(Mandaloun, a 3YO colt by Into Mischief and a top contender for this year’s Triple Crown for trainer Brad Cox, made the 2021 and Stakes debut on Saturday. It was not a bad effort, running third to Midnight Bourbon in the G3 Lecomte Stakes at the Fair Grounds. But big things are expected of and for this colt. So, stay tuned. More is surely to come. / Photos by Holly M. Smith)

Editor’s Note:

On Saturday, the signature drink of the day was supposed to be the highly-touted and mega-pedigreed Mandaloun.

After all, the colt was a perfect and undefeated 2-for-2.

After all, the colt is by the majestic stallion Into Mischief, the world’s greatest producing sire of the day.

After all, the colt is trained by Brad Cox and runs for the intercontinental juggernaut Juddmonte Farms, which just lost its’ patriarch and owner in the past few days.

After all, it was supposed to be Mandaloun’s kick-off party.

So much for kick off and kick start.

So much for getting kicked, instead.

Instead, Saturday it was Midnight Bourbon who became the hot toddy, alright.

The 3YO son of Tiznow opened up the 2021 Kentucky Derby Trail down at the Fair Grounds with a powerful and impressive gate-to-wire win in the G3 Lecomte Stakes in New Orleans. More impressively, though, he convincingly defeated the highly-touted and previously-undefeated Mandaloun, who managed to run third but never seriously threaten the leader.

So, on Saturday, Midnight Bourbon warmed the cockles on a cold, blustery January night.

And, he jumped all the way from a name worth mentioning to a horse worth considering for the 2021 running of the Kentucky Derby, to be held once again on the First Saturday in May.

He went from a horse on the rocks, to a horse that may look like he’s headed — well — straight. Straight to the top.

Stay tuned. The next round may be on you.

More action is slated to heat up down South soon, too. Keepmeinmind, winner of the G2 Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill Downs last November, is slated to return at Oaklawn Park on Feb. 15 in the G3 Southwest Stakes. A week later, the impressive Caddo River is scheduled to run in the Smarty Jones. And, today, Whiskey Double is scheduled in an allowance at the Fair Grounds.

Time is of the essence. And, times are getting closer for the top 3YOs in the country to start gearing up their legs and their games for a run at the Run for the Roses.

Our top numbers and contenders have not changed. But there is a shift in some of the rankings.

Take a look. More is surely to come.

RankingsHorseSireTrainerJockeyLast RaceNext RaceCareerComments
1Essential QualityTapitBrad CoxLuis Saez1st G1 BC Juvenile @ KEEFeb. 13 — G2 Risen Star at FG3/3-0-0Breezed 5F on 1/17/21; Looks About Ready for 2021 Debut
2Life Is GoodInto MischiefBob BaffertMike Smith1st in G3 Sham StakesTBD2/2-0-0Brilliant Work on 1/11/21; How Good Can He Be or Become?
3Prime FactorQuality RoadTodd PletcherIrad Ortiz, Jr.1st in MSW @ GPTBD1/1-0-0Solid Work on 1/17/21; What’s Next?
4KeepmeinmindLoabanRoberto DiodoroDavid Cohen1st in G2 KY Jockey Club @ CDFeb. 15 — G3 Southwest Stakes4/1-2-1Work on 1/12/21 Looks Spot On; Ready?
5Caddo RiverHard SpunBrad CoxFlorent Geroux1st in MSW @ CDJan. 22 —  Smarty Jones Stakes3/1-2-0Work on 1/16/21 Was Superby; Look for Major Improvement
6Hot Rod CharlieOxbowDoug O’NeillTyler Gaffalione2nd in G1 BC Juvenile @ KEEJan. 30 — G3 Robert B. Lewis Stakes5/1-1-1Stretched Out to 6F Work on 1/16/21; Was BC Juv a Fluke? Questions
7Midnight BourbonTiznowSteve AsmussenJoe Talamo1st in the G3 Lecomte @ FGTBD5/2-1-2Flashed Speed & Carried It To Win in G3 Lecomte; Consistency?
8MandalounInto MischiefBrad CoxFlorent Geroux2nd in the G3 Lecomte @ FGTBD3/2-0-1Not a Terrible Start to 2021; Just Not Over-Impressive, Either
9PrateInto MischiefBrad CoxFlorent Geroux1st in FG MSWTBD1/1-0-0Came Back to Work at FG on 1/16/21; Horse He Beat Came Back to Win
10ProxyTapitMichael StidhamMitchell Murrill2nd in the G3 Lecomte @ FGTBD4/2-2-0Very Salty 2nd in Lecomte; Breeding Is There
11Freedom FighterViolenceBob BaffertDrayden Van Dyke1st in MSW @ Del MarTBD1/1-0-0Look At This One…Super Work on 1/17/21…Can’t Dismiss Connections
12Greatest HonourTapitShug McGaugheyTrevor McCarthy1st in MSW @ GPTBD4/1-1-2Impressive in MSW Win; Look for Major Improvement Next Out
13Dr. SchivelViolenceMark GlattFlavien Pratt1st in G1 Del Mar Futurity @ DMTBD4/2-1-1No Recent Works — Still; Hmmm…
14PetruchioInto MischiefRichard MandellaMike Smith3rd in G2 Los Alamitos FuturityTBD5/1-1-3Has Not Returned to Work Since LA Futurity; Concerned?
15Whiskey DoubleInto MischiefSteve AsmussenRicardo Santana, Jr.1st in MSW @ CDJan. 1 7 — Allowance at FG1/1-0-0Let’s See What He Has today at the FG; Go Time
16Get Her NumberDialed InPeter MillerFlavien Pratt1st in G1 American PharoahTBD3/2-0-0No Recent Works, Either…Hmmmm II
17Highly MotivatedInto MischiefChad BrownJavier Castellano1st in Nyquist StakesTBD3/2-1-0Got 1st Work of 2021 on 1/16/21; Easy 1/2-Mile; More To Come?
18PrisonerViolenceTodd PletcherIrad Ortiz, Jr.1st in MSW @ Belmont ParkTBD1/1-0-0Has Not Raced or Worked Since Last June…Concerns
19Jackie’s WarriorMaclean’s MusicSteve AsmussenJoel Rosario4th in G1 BC Juvenile @ KEEFeb. 15: G3 Southwest Stakes5/4-0-0Worked at FG on 1/12/21; Hasn’t Shown Much Speed in the AM?
20Brooklyn StrongWicked StrongDanny VelazquezJoel Rosario1st in G2 Remsen Staeks @ AQUTBD4/3-0-1Remind Me, Again…How Many NY-breds Have Won KY Derby?
20aVittorioGhostzapperSimon CallaghanMike Smith1st in MSW @ Del MarTBD2/1-0-0No Works…Interest Wanning
20bOlympiadSpeightstownBill MottJunior Alvarado1st in MSW @ SaratogaTBD2/1-0-1Worked Easy 1/2-Mile on 1/13/21; More to Come
20cTeam MerchantsNyquistDoug O’NeillKendrick Carmouche1st in MSW @ SaratogaTBD2/1-0-0No Works…Schedule?
20dSmiley SobotkaBrody’s CauseDale RomansJulien Leparoux2nd in G2 KY Jockey Club @ CDTBD3/1-2-0Worked 5F on 1/16/21; Nice, Too; Don’t Dismiss Here
AE ListHorseSireTrainerJockeyLast RaceNext RaceComments
1Reinvestment RiskUpstartChad BrownIrad Ortiz, Jr.10th in G1 BC Juvenile @ KEETBD4/1-2-0No Recent Works
2Restored OrderTapizarTodd PletcherIrad Ortiz, Jr.1st in MSW @ SaratogaTBD3/1-0-1No Recent Works
3Ten for TenFrostedShug McGaugheyJunior Ortiz2nd in G2 Remsen Stakes @ AQUTBD4/1-3-0Last Work was on Dec. 31 at Payson; Next?
4GirtherBrody’s CausePeter MillerRicardo Gonzalez2nd in G2 Best Pal @ Del MarTBD3/1-1-0No Recent Works
5Sittin on GoBrody’s CauseDale RomansCorey Lanerie6th in G2 KY Jockey Club @ CDTBD4/2-0-0Work on 1/16/21 at GP was Super Impressive; Look Out
6Known AgendaCurlinTodd PletcherJohn Velazquez3rd in G2 Remsen Stakes @ AQUTBD3/1-1-1Work at Palm Beach Downs on 1/16/21; Solid
7Red FlagTamarkuzJohn ShirreffsVictor Espinoza4th in G2 Los Alamitos FuturityTBD4/2-0-0Worked 5F @ SA on 1/11/21; Worried Here
8Arabian PrinceMshawishDallas StewartTyler Gaffalione5th in the G3 Lecomte @ FGTBD4/1-0-1Disappointing in Lecomte; Beaten Over 15; Next?