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Blog - GAMBLING

Revolutionary (inside) won the Withers Stakes on Feb. 2 at Aqueduct. (Photo by Adam Coglianese/NYRA)

Races like the $1 million Louisiana Derby are commonly known as Kentucky Derby preps, yet at this point in the Triple Crown season they involve much more than “preparation.”

Under the new criteria for securing spots in the 20-horse field for the “Run for the Roses”, the Louisiana Derby is basically an automatic qualifier for the Derby for the top two finishers.

For everyone else, depending on their point totals, a good “prep” for the Derby – like a fast-closing fourth-place finish - is not enough.

TV: NBC Sports Network 6 – 7 p.m., ET (Click for complete TV/Radio schedule)

It’s all about the points, baby, and that’s rather helpful for handicappers who can take comfort in knowing the points and the purse money will have trainers focused on a big effort Saturday as opposed to just prepping their horse for the first Saturday in May.

As an example, Revolutionary, a consensus Top 10 choice in most Derby polls, needs a strong effort in Saturday’s Fair Grounds stakes or he can turn his attention to the Preakness Stakes. For him, it's not just another step along the way; it's the moment of truth.

Of the 13 Triple Crown nominees among the 14 entrants in the Louisiana Derby, six have points in the Road to the Kentucky Derby standings and the leader among them is Code West. He is, however, only 17th with 20 points and probably will need a top-three finish to keep his Derby hopes alive.

Revolutionary, meanwhile, is 24th in the standings and probably will need a top-two finish to feel secure about spending the first Saturday in May in Louisville.

Against that backdrop, the horses to beat in the Louisiana Derby promise to be Code West and Revolutionary, with Revolutionary getting the nod to win the race and collect 100 points in the Derby chase – not to mention about $600,000 in purse money.

When last seen, Revolutionary appeared hopelessly trapped inside horses in the Withers Stakes at Aqueduct on Feb. 2, but then surged through a hole in deep stretch and wound up winning by a neck thanks to an amazing turn of foot.

The tenacity Revolutionary displayed in the Withers and the invaluable education he received in that race should help him again Saturday, when he’ll be asked to rally from the back of the pack in a bulky field.

Hopefully, for the sake of those who backed him in the Kentucky Derby Future Wager, he’ll have a smoother trip at Fair Grounds and the Todd Pletcher-trained colt will punch his ticket to Louisville without any frightening moments.

Code West looms the main competition off a nose loss in the Risen Star Stakes, the steppingstone prep for the Louisiana Derby. Returned to California by trainer Bob Baffert after that Feb. 23 race, Code West has trained smartly since then and could easily land in the winner’s circle.

Departingalso deserves attention off a perfect 3-for-3 record with two wins at Fair Grounds and a lightning-quick overnight stakes win at Sam Houston Race Park, and Palace Malice cannot be ignored off a third-place finish in the Risen Star, a half-length behind the winner.

For them, and just about everyone else in the field, while they may be running in a prep race, their intentions are crystal clear: it’s win or place or you may be a no show at the Kentucky Derby.

Ehalt’s picks

1. Revolutionary

2. Code West

3. Departing

4. Palace Malice

$1 million Louisiana Derby

Saturday, Fair Grounds, Race 9, 6:44 p.m ET

3-year-olds, 1 1/8 miles (dirt)

PP

Horse

Jockey

Trainer

Odds

1

Hip Four Sixtynine

Jamie Theriot

Bobby Barnett

30-1

2

Palace Malice

Edgar Prado

Todd Pletcher

5-1

3

Revolutionary

Javier Castellano

Todd Pletcher

3-1

4

Golden Soul

Calvin Borel

Dallas Stewart

20-1

5

Whisky Bravo

James Graham

Keith Desormeaux

30-1

6

Sunbean

Colby Hernandez

Al Stall Jr.

12-1

7

Departing

Brian Hernandez Jr.

Al Stall Jr.

8-1

8

Code West

Martin Garcia

Bob Baffert

9-2

9

Proud Strike

Corey Nakatani

Steve Asmussen

10-1

10

Titletown Five

Jon Court

D. Wayne Lukas

8-1

11

Mylute

Shaun Bridgmohan

Tom Amoss

12-1

12

Brazilian Court

Miguel Mena

Mike Maker

30-1

13

Ground Transport

Mark Guidry

Michael Stidham

20-1

14

Nina's Dragon

Julien Couton

Lloyd Mason

30-1

All carry 122 pounds

Image Description

Bob Ehalt

Bob Ehalt has been an avid fan of Thoroughbred racing since that day in June of 1971 when he and his father walked from their Queens Village, N.Y., home to Belmont Park to see Canonero II fall short in his bid for the Triple Crown. A veteran sports writer and correspondent for Thoroughbred Times magazine, Bob has covered horse racing for more than 20 years and has won three awards in the Associated Press Sports Editors national writing contest for his coverage of the sport.

Now working at the New Haven Register in Connecticut, Bob has also owned Thoroughbreds since 1995 and was a member of the syndicate that raced Tale of the Cat. He also writes a racing blog for ESPNNewYork.com and is the co-founder of the New York Hot List handicapping service, which is offered at InterBets.com.

His NTRA.com blog received first-place honors in the 2008-09 Breeders' Cup Media Awards, winning in the initial year of competition in the Social Media category.  You can follow him on Twitter at @BobEhalt

 

Image Description

Bob Ehalt

Bob Ehalt has been an avid fan of Thoroughbred racing since that day in June of 1971 when he and his father walked from their Queens Village, N.Y., home to Belmont Park to see Canonero II fall short in his bid for the Triple Crown. A veteran sports writer and correspondent for Thoroughbred Times magazine, Bob has covered horse racing for more than 20 years and has won three awards in the Associated Press Sports Editors national writing contest for his coverage of the sport.

Now working at the New Haven Register in Connecticut, Bob has also owned Thoroughbreds since 1995 and was a member of the syndicate that raced Tale of the Cat. He also writes a racing blog for ESPNNewYork.com and is the co-founder of the New York Hot List handicapping service, which is offered at InterBets.com.

His NTRA.com blog received first-place honors in the 2008-09 Breeders' Cup Media Awards, winning in the initial year of competition in the Social Media category.  You can follow him on Twitter at @BobEhalt

 

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