Hustling from post 3, Wells Bayou seized command early and never looked back in Saturday’s $1 million Louisiana Derby (G2) at Fair Grounds. His first stakes victory netted 100 points toward the Kentucky Derby (G1), now postponed to the first Saturday in September, and propelled him to the top of the leaderboard with 104 points in all.

Wells Bayou was capping a banner day for trainer Brad Cox, whose filly Bonny South captured the Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) and older turf performer Factor This scored in the Muniz Memorial Classic (G2). Jockey Florent Geroux rode both of the 3-year-olds with contrasting running styles.

As Geroux calibrated his speed, Wells Bayou traveled comfortably without any early pressure. That projected scenario was a key reason why he was bet down from an 8-1 morning line to 3-1 favoritism at post time. Wells Bayou had been caught late last time in the Southwest (G3), but no one could lay a glove on him here.

Maintaining his relentless gallop down the long Fair Grounds stretch, Wells Bayou stayed the 1 3/16-mile trip well. The son of champion Lookin at Lucky held sway by 1 1/2 lengths while finishing in 1:56.47.

His nearest pursuers were all coming out of the second Risen Star (G2) division.

Ny Traffic, who added blinkers here off his last-out third, chased in second throughout but couldn’t lift enough to challenge. The 26-1 runner-up took home 40 points, upping his total to 50.

Modernist, winner of that Risen Star division, didn’t show the same early zip from the far outside post 14. Plugging on in a one-paced third, he added 20 points to sport 70 overall.

Major Fed, a rallying second to Modernist that day, put himself in a much worse position here with a tardy start. Yet he fared best of the deep closers in fourth, good for 10 points and a tally of 30.

Next came Enforceable, the 7-2 second choice who wound up a non-threatening fifth from off the pace. Shake Some Action, Silver State, Chestertown, Royal Act, Social Afleet, Mailman Money, Sharecropper Lynn’s Map, and Portos concluded the order under the wire. Also-eligibles Mr. Big News and Farmington Road did not draw in.

Owned by Clint Gasaway, Lance Gasaway, Madaket Stables, and Wonder Stables, Wells Bayou advanced his record to 5-3-1-0, $845,293. The bay won at first asking at Keeneland Oct. 26 but disappointed when seventh in a Nov. 30 Churchill Downs allowance. Rebounding in his sophomore bow Jan. 26 at Oaklawn Park, he went down grudgingly to Silver Prospector in his Southwest stakes debut.

Wells Bayou was bred in Kentucky by Knowles Bloodstock and sold three times at auction. The $50,000 Keeneland January yearling fetched just $18,000 at the same venue in September, but commanded $105,000 from Lance Gasaway as a 2-year-old in training at OBS March.

The first foal from the Hard Spun mare Whispering Angel, Wells Bayou descends from the family of 2008 Kentucky Derby and Preakness (G1) champion Big Brown.  

Photo credit: Hodges Photography/Lou Hodges Jr.