5 Fast Facts about the Lecomte Stakes, a Road to the Kentucky Derby prep-race
- Founded in 1970, the race is named after one of the most notable horses in early Fair Grounds history. Lecomte set a world record for four miles at the Louisiana track in the 1850s, and had a noted rivalry with the outstanding runner Lexington, who later became a breed-shaping stallion. Lecomte wasn’t as lucky as his rival: shipped to England to take on the best there, he died after suffering from colic.
- The Lecomte Stakes is the first of three races at Fair Grounds for which points are available on the Road to the Kentucky Derby table, along with the Risen Star Stakes (G2) and the Louisiana Derby (G2). Only two horses have won all three races: Friesan Fire in 2009 and International Star in 2013.
- Just one winner of the Lecomte Stakes has gone on to win one of the legs of the Triple Crown: Oxbow, who went on to win the Preakness Stakes and finish second in the Belmont Stakes following his Lecomte Stakes victory in 2013. Another winner, 2007 champ Hard Spun, later finished second in the Kentucky Derby and third in the Preakness Stakes.
- Only one horse that contested the Lecomte Stakes went on to win the Kentucky Derby, though he didn’t provide much of a clue to his ability in the Lecomte. War Emblem entered the race having won twice from three starts, but he faded after setting the pace to finish fifth. He didn’t do much better in the Risen Star Stakes, finishing sixth. Perhaps he didn’t like Fair Grounds: he then won an allowance race and the Indiana Derby before taking out the Derby and Preakness.
- The most successful trainer in Lecomte Stakes history is Tom Amoss, who has won the race four times, with Fly Cry (1994), Some Actor (1999), Ron the Greek (2010), and Mo Tom (2016). He lines up Lone Sailor in the race in 2017. Larry Jones, who has won the Lecomte three times (with Hard Spun, Friesan Fire, and Mr. Bowling), will have three runners in 2017: Kowboy Karma, Believe in Royalty, and Prince Lucky.
(2017 Lecomte Photo by Lou Hodges, Jr./Hodges Photography)