It may be mid-January but the trail to horse racing’s Triple Crown series later this spring is staring to heat up. This Saturday afternoon’s race card at Fair Grounds Race Course features the running of the $200,000 Lecomte Stakes as one of the first big events this season on the Kentucky Derby prep race schedule.
The field for Saturday's main event at Fair Grounds should be a good one with 12 three-year olds expected to compete for top honors and 10 qualifying points towards a guaranteed spot in the field for the 2017 Kentucky Derby. I have my eye set on three entries as my top trifecta play for this year's Lecomte.
2017 Lecomte Stakes: Fair Grounds Race Course
The Lecomte is a Grade 3 stakes race for three-year old thoroughbreds and the total prize purse for this year's event is set at $200,000. The race will be contested on the dirt track at Fair Grounds over a distance of 1 mile and 70 yards.
There is a deep field in place for Saturday's race with seven of the entries rated by Horse Racing Nation. While trainer Mark Casse's Takeoff is one of the five entries without a HRN rating, he is actually at the top of my list to win this race. This three-year old Kentucky-bred colt will be racing in his first graded stakes event after placing in the money in three Maiden Special Weight races as a juvenile. The main reason he caught my eye for this race was a recent victory at Fair Grounds on Dec. 26 over this exact same distance.
A pedigree of Arch, Takeoff has the untapped potential to be something special this season and I am counting on him to hold a big coming out party this Saturday on a familiar track.
My second choice for this year's Lecomte is Saint's Fan, who should go off as the morning line favorite as the highest-ranked contender in the field at 6.95. Trained by Dallas Stewart, this three-year old home grown Louisiana-bred colt also comes into this race with high expectations. He did not disappoint his growing fan base with a victory in a MSW race at Churchill Downs on Nov. 4 at a distance of six furlongs.
This was his only race as a juvenile and he will be making his racing debut as a three-year old on Saturday. While this lack of racing experience is somewhat of a concern, this horse has the right pedigree to be a champion with a progeny that goes back to Storm Cat.
Moving down the list in search of a solid contender to round out my trifecta pick, I decided to go with Untrapped, who is expected to be one of three entries in this race under the guidance of trainer Steve Asmussen. This three-year old Kentucky-bred colt will also be making his graded stakes debut with just one run under his belt as a juvenile. He place second in a MSW race on Oct. 19 at Keeneland over a distance of 6 ½ furlongs in a race that was actually won by Kentucky Derby hopeful Uncontested.
Untrapped comes into this race with a respectable HRN rating of 6.12, which is second-best in the field of 12. He is a pedigree of Trappe Shot with a progeny that can be traced back to Pulpit.