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Revolutionary 3-1 favorite in full Louisiana Derby field
Revolutionary, who overcame severe traffic problems to win Aqueduct's Grade 3 Withers in his last start on February 2, has been installed as the lukewarm 3-1 morning-line favorite in the 100th anniversary edition of the Grade 2, $1 million Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds on Saturday.
The nine-furlong contest is the feature event on the penultimate day of the New Orleans oval's 2012-2013 Thoroughbred racing season. A total of seven stakes are scheduled, including the Grade 2, $500,000 Fair Grounds Oaks, and the Louisiana Derby will be televised nationally on NBC Sports Network as part of a "Road to the Kentucky Derby" broadcast that starts at 6 p.m. (EDT).
This year's milestone 100th Louisiana Derby festivities include the first-ever Infield Festival, a celebration in the green expanse within the racing oval with concerts by Cowboy Mouth and Flow Tribe, as well as a gathering of 17 food trucks and pop-up vendors.
The Louisiana Derby is worth 170 points -- 100 for first, 40 for second, 20 for third and 10 for fourth -- in the new "Road to the Kentucky Derby" points series that determines starters for the Kentucky Derby on May 4 at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky.
Revolutionary, conditioned by five-time Eclipse Award-winning and two-time Louisiana Derby-scoring trainer Todd Pletcher, will be ridden by Javier Castellano, who was aboard for his Withers win. That was the War Pass colt's sophomore bow after closing out his juvenile season with an 8 1/2-length romp in a maiden special weight at Aqueduct.
Prior to that first win, Revolutionary ran third behind last month's Grade 2 Fountain of Youth victor Orb in a maiden special weight contest at the Big A. Orb is scheduled to return on Saturday as part of a 10-horse field in the Grade 1, $1 million Florida Derby.
Pegged as the 9-2 second choice in the Louisiana Derby is Code West, who invaded from California last month to finish second by a nose in Fair Grounds' Grade 2 Risen Star as the final local designed prep for Saturday's showcase.
The Lemon Drop Kid ridgling, who is trained by Bob Baffert and will be ridden by West Coast-based jockey Martin Garcia, was making his stakes bow in the Risen Star. He entered that race off another runner-up effort in an optional claimer at Santa Anita, where he finished second behind next out Grade 3 Southwest scorer Super Ninety Nine.
Also exiting the Risen Star is Palace Malice, the third choice at 5-1 on the Louisiana Derby morning-line off his third-place run. A stablemate to Revolutionary, the bay son of Curlin was making his stakes debut, and first start around two turns, in the Risen Star. Palace Malice had Rosie Napravnik aboard for that race, but will get a jockey switch to Edgar Prado on Saturday.
Undefeated Departing and Titletown Five are the co-fourth choices on the early line at 8-1. Conditioned by three-time Fair Grounds champion trainer Al Stall Jr., Departing won Sam Houston's Texas Heritage on March 2 and remains unbeaten after three career starts. Regular jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. is named to ride once again.
D. Wayne Lukas will send out Titletown Five with Jon Court handling the reins. The Tiznow colt broke his maiden at Churchill Downs by nine lengths last October, and opened his three-year-old campaign with a second-place effort in his stakes bow, the Gazebo at Oaklawn Park on March 2.
Ground Transport suffered his only career loss to Departing in his career debut in December, and will be looking to hand that rival a first defeat of his own on Saturday. The Big Brown colt has since captured a pair of mile-and-70-yard contests at Fair Grounds, including a three-length optional claiming win over a good track on February 23. Regular rider Mark Guidry will be in the irons once again.
Louisiana-bred Sunbean will try to keep the Derby trophy in his homestate following three stakes wins over the local oval. The bay son of Brahms bypassed the Risen Star to run in the Gentilly on the undercard that day, and brings a confidence-building, 4 3/4-length score, as well as jockey Colby Hernandez, from that race into the Derby.
Golden Soul, a well-beaten second in the Grade 3 LeComte in his seasonal bow, was just three lengths back in sixth in the Risen Star, and will have jockey Calvin Borel taking over the mount in his third consecutive stakes try on Saturday.
Hip Four Sixtynine will make his stakes bow in the Louisiana Derby off a 3 1/4-length maiden win going six furlongs over the track on February 23. He, Texas Heritage fourth-placer Whiskey Bravo, OBS Championship runner-up Brazilian Court and Grade 3 El Camino Real Derby second Nina's Dragon are the co-longest shots on the morning-line at 30-1.
Mylute and Proud Strike, the respective seventh- and eighth-place runners in the Risen Star, complete the Louisiana Derby field.