Expert Pick of the Week: Louisiana Derby on March 20

Mar 16, 2021 John Mucciolo/

Who should I bet in the Louisiana Derby?

A total of eight talented sophomores aiming for the Run for the Roses on May 1 will go postward in Saturday’s $1 million Louisiana Derby (G2) at Fair Grounds. The 1 3/16-mile test is a key qualifying event on the 2021 Road to the Kentucky Derby challenge series with a total of 170 points on the line for the top-four finishers (100-40-20-10).

Five of the top six finishers of the recent Risen Star S. (G2) have returned for the lucrative race, including winner Mandaloun. Trained by Brad Cox, the ultra-talented son of Into Mischief rebounded from his first setback with a fine tally on the surface last time out, and I think that he will move forward in his third outing off the layoff. He is the Expert Pick of the Week.

Mandaloun flashed considerable potential with a pair of wins from as many starts as a juvenile while racing in the Bluegrass State, and he finished a commendable third in his seasonal debut in the Lecomte S. (G3) on this surface. The Juddmonte homebred was equipped with blinkers for the initial time in the Risen Star and the change appeared to make a positive influence on the colt. Tracking the pace while in close attendance from the onset, the sophomore took the lead in early stretch and kept a safe margin through the wire while giving the impression that he could have won by more.

The Kentucky-bred earned a career-best 100 Brisnet Speed figure in his latest endeavor and the added ground will pose no problem to him on Saturday. I envision Mandaloun receiving a similar voyage in the Louisiana Derby under regular pilot Florent Geroux and posting a similar type of victory to bolster his credentials in advance of the Kentucky Derby (G1).

Risen Star runner-up Proxy, Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) second Hot Rod Charlie, and Lecomte victor Midnight Bourbon, will all challenge for place honors on Saturday, but they will not be able to overcome the continually improving Mandaloun.

Expert Pick

Mandaloun taking the $1 million Louisiana Derby is the Best Bet of the Week.

Bet Fair Grounds live racing with TwinSpires.

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