One hundred is the magic number when it comes to horse racing speed figures no matter who's doing the counting. But at the Louisiana Derby, it's the battle of the 99's; at least according to Brisnet accounting.
Intense Holiday posted the 99 when he nosed out Albano in the Risen Star Stakes. Albano got the same number because he was less than a heart beat behind. And In Trouble comes in from Florida after he posted his 99 at Aqueduct in the Gotham Stakes.
Now if you believe in speed figures, (and who doesn't, depending on which speed figures you're talking about) the Louisiana Derby ought to come down to those three plus Vicar in Trouble, who won the Lecomte Stakes. But the Vicar posted an 88 in that race, and the son of Into Mischief might be challenged by the Derby distance.
And speaking of numbers, Rise Up ran some good ones last year. Tom Amoss is giving him another chance on the Derby trail and this time adds blinkers. If Rise Up can match his showing in the Delta Jackpot last November he'll be right in the middle of the numbers thing.
Winchell Thoroughbred's Gold Hawk came into the Fairgrounds meet with two straight wins but he was a fading 5th in the Risen Star. The Hawk does get a new jockey in Shaun Bridgmohan.
It is supposed rain overnight in New Orleans but the race day forecast is partly cloudy. If the wet track were to linger that might improve the chances of Louies Flower who is a Flower Alley. Bret Calhoun had trained Louies Flower to three straight wins before a 12th in the Southwest Stakes. That means Louie is a 20-1 shot on Saturday.
Flat Gone is 50-1 because he was flat missing in the Risen Star and showed up 8th. Dallas Stewart has Commanding Curve who was also disappointing in the Risen Star and Todd Pletcher ships in a maiden winner, King Cyrus, for WinStar.
And you get the feeling that a Pletcher shipper at 15-1, might actually have a shot in this field.
The long Fairgrounds stretch always seems to favor a closer as the 3-year-olds stagger to the finish line. And maybe somebody gets a better trip and re-arranges the finish from the Risen Star.
I'm going with Albano from the barn of Larry Jones in the Louisiana Derby. Albano has worked a couple of bullets recently in :59 and change. This might be a horse that is getting better at the right time.
Over at Gulfstream Park, I have two thoughts. If the speed holds, General A Rod is the one that can carry it for the distance. If the race falls apart, I think Spot might carry Nick Zito to another Derby.