If the Todd Pletcher-trained DISCREETLY MINE (Mineshaft) makes it to Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May, he will enter the Kentucky Derby (G1) well versed in the ways of negotiating large fields. The bay defeated 11 rivals when notching his first stakes win in the February 20 Risen Star S. (G2), and will be asked to outrun 12 in Saturday's $750,000 Louisiana Derby (G2) over the same Fair Grounds track. He's been installed as the lukewarm 7-2 morning-line favorite and will again be guided by Javier Castellano.
The Louisiana Derby, which will have its latest renewal in many years, anchors a 13-race program on the penultimate day of the 2009-10 Fair Grounds meet. Due to its closer proximity to the Kentucky Derby, the Louisiana version has returned to its original 1 1/8-mile distance, which was last used in 1987.
Discreetly Mine, who placed in the Champagne S. (G1) and Futurity S. (G2) last fall, entered the Risen Star off a fourth in the six-furlong Spectacular Bid S. at Gulfstream. The stretchout to 1 1/16 miles and the lack of other speed aided the bay, who took an uncontested lead and crossed the wire 1 1/2 lengths in front after setting a modest pace. The fractions might be more lively this time with the likes of WOW WOW WOW (Broken Vow) and THE PROGRAM (Harlan's Holiday) in the mix. The latter is trained by Bob Baffert, who already has prominent classic candidates Lookin at Lucky (Smart Strike) and Conveyance (Indian Charlie), and enters off respectable minor placings in the Sham S. (G3) and CashCall Futurity (G1).
Among those invading from Florida are A LITTLE WARM (Stormin Fever), who took the Spectacular Bid by 1 1/2 lengths prior to a second to D' Funnybone (D'wildcat) in the Hutcheson S. (G2). The Tony Dutrow charge, listed at 4-1 in the morning line, is taking a big step up in distance stretching out from seven furlongs, and thus might be closer to the pace than what he's shown in recent sprints. MISSION IMPAZIBLE (Unbridled's Song), an even fourth in the Southwest S. (G3) in his two-turn debut, might be more likely to play a pace-setting role for stablemate Discreetly Mine, while nine-furlong allowance winner FLY DOWN (Mineshaft) seeks to give trainer Nick Zito his second biggest classic prep win in the span of a week.
Risen Star also-rans hampered by the soft pace of that race will seek to make amends on Saturday. RON THE GREEK (Full Madate), who turned in an explosive run to capture the Lecomte S. (G3) in January, perhaps took the worst of it as the deepest closer erased a near nine-length deficit to finish sixth, 4 1/4 lengths in back of Discreetly Mine. Making up almost as much ground was fifth-placer STAY PUT (Broken Vow), who also lagged far behind early and was only a short margin ahead of Ron the Greek during the early part of the race. DROSSELMEYER (Distorted Humor), who went favored in the Risen Star at 2-1, was no worse than sixth throughout the Risen Star but only creeped up to fourth by the finish. HOTEP (A.P. Indy), meanwhile, showed little when settling for 10th and would need vast improvement to contend here.
The remainder of the Louisiana Derby field, consisting of locally-based runners, will be tested for class. BACKTRACK (Grand Slam) enters undefeated after two starts, both at six furlongs. Claimed for $25,000 off his winning debut, trainer Gary Scherer upped the gelding in class next time and knocked out his entry-level allowance condition by a length at 27-1. The other two, on the other hand, do have two-turn experience. MISTER MARTI GRAS (Belong to Me), proficient on dirt, displayed some turf prowess when graduating last time over the infield course by a half-length. ISLAND SOUL (Perfect Soul [Ire]), who took an off-the-turf maiden in late January, returned to finish second against entry-level allowance foes in the slop for Steve Asmussen.