Ky Derby update: Taking a look at the Louisiana, Sunland Derbys

Churchill Downs’ weekly Kentucky Derby and Oaks update:

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Thursday, March 21, 2019) – No rival has yet made a dent in War of Will‘s leadership of the 3-year-old division in New Orleans this winter, but 10 will make a belated attempt to do so Saturday in the $1 million Louisiana Derby (Grade I) at Fair Grounds.

The 1 1/8-mile Louisiana Derby is the finale on a 13-race program and is the first Road to the Kentucky Derby series race that will award qualifying points of 100-50-20-10 to the top four finishers.

War of Will is already safely in the Churchill Downs classic having accumulated 60 points by winning the Lecomte (GIII) and Risen Star (GII) in comfortable fashion, but a third decisive win Saturday could put him in the discussion as a potential favorite on the first Saturday in May, which has not been a bad position to be in of late with every public choice having won the past six years.

Despite being far back early in the field of 14 in the Risen Star, Country House advanced to second by mid-stretch and held that position at the wire, a positive stakes debut all around. Trainer Bill Mott has been an infrequent Kentucky Derby participant during his long career, but Country House could be one of potentially three runners for him come May 4.

Todd Pletcher has won this race more times (four) than any other trainer, and will rely on Spinoff to provide a fifth victory. The lightly-raced colt has won two of three, most recently an allowance at Tampa Bay Downs by nearly a dozen lengths. In his lone prior stakes try, he finished third to Call Paul in the Saratoga Special (GII) last August.

Sueno earned his lone stakes win on Tapeta at Golden Gate Fields, but has run well in two dirt tries since, finishing second in both the Sham (GIII) and Southwest (GIII). In the latter, he out-finished Long Range Toddy, who came back to defeat Improbable in the first division of last Saturday’s Rebel (GII).

The deep-closing Roiland and Hog Creek Hustle finished third and fourth, respectively, in the Risen Star, and will be dependent on a strong pace from the likes of Spinoff and possibly LemniscateLimonite, third in the Kentucky Jockey Club (GII) in his stakes debut, had a less-than-ideal trip when fifth in the Risen Star and could take a step forward in his second start of the season. – Vance Hanson/


MUCHO GUSTO SQUARES OFF AGAINST ANOTHERTWISTAFATE IN SUNLAND DERBY – Robert B. Lewis (Grade III) winnerMucho Gusto will faceoff against runaway El Camino Real Derby hero Anothertwistafate in Sunday’s $800,000 Sunland Derby (Grade III) – the premiere race at the Hobbs, N.M. track’s Thoroughbred meeting.

Mucho Gusto, trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert defeated four rivals by 4 ¾ lengths in the Robert B. Lewis at Santa Anita. The son of Mucho Macho Man only has one blemish on his four-race resume – a runner-up effort behind top Kentucky Derby contender Improbable in the Los Alamitos Futurity (GI).

The chief competitor to Mucho Gusto is synthetic-track specialist Anothertwistafate who will make only his second-career try on the dirt following three runaway scores at Golden Gate Fields in northern California.

Trained by Blaine Wright, the speedy Anothertwistafate only try on the dirt was his career debut at Santa Anita where he finished ninth.

The Sunland Derby, which is carded as Race 11 on Sunland Park’s 12-race program, has a scheduled post time of 7:30 p.m. EDT. The Road to the Kentucky Derby Championship Series race will award the Top 4 finishers points on a 50-20-10-5 scale. – Kevin Kerstein/Churchill Downs




#      Horse                              Trainer                                    Points

1.      War of Will                      Mark Casse                                 60

2.      Code of Honor                 Shug McGaughey III                   54

3.      Long Range Toddy           Steve Asmussen                           53.5

4.      Haikal                              Kiaran McLaughlin                     50

5.      Tacitus                             Bill Mott                                     50

6.      Game Winner                  Bob Baffert                                45

7.      Omaha Beach                  Richard Mandella                       37.5

8.      Mind Control                   Gregg Sacco                               30

9.      Improbable                      Bob Baffert                                25

10.   Gunmetal Gray                Jerry Hollendorfer                      21.75

11.   Bourbon War                   Mark Hennig                              21

12.   Somelikeithotbrown          Mike Maker                                20

13.   Country House                  Bill Mott                                     20

14.   Outshine                          Todd Pletcher                            20

15.   Knicks Go                        Ben Colebrook                           18

16.   Signalman                        Kenny McPeek                           18

17.   Mucho Gusto                    Bob Baffert                                14

18.   Tax                                  Danny Gargan                           12

19.   Harvey Wallbanger           Kenny McPeek                           10

20.   Well Defined                   Kathy O’Connell                        10

21.   Instagrand                        Jerry Hollendorfer                      10

22.   Veokoma                          George Weaver                          10

23.   Gray Attempt                   Jinks Fires                                  10

24.   Win Win Win                   Mike Trombetta                          10

25.   Anothertwistafate              Blaine Wright                             10




NBCSN TO BROADCAST LOUISIANA DERBY – With the Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve (GI) less than 50 days away, NBCSN will present exclusive live coverage of the $1 million Louisiana Derby this Saturday at 5:30 p.m. EDT from Fair Grounds Race Course in New Orleans.

Exactly six weeks ahead of the May 4 running of the 145th Kentucky Derby, the Grade II Louisiana Derby marks the first prep race awarding Kentucky Derby qualifying points on a 100-40-20-10 scale for the top four finishers. War of Will is expected to be the favorite in the 11-horse field.

Ahmed Fareed hosts Saturday’s coverage, alongside analysts Jerry Bailey, a Hall of Fame jockey who has twice won the Louisiana Derby, and Randy Moss.


NEW ‘ROAD TO THE KENTUCKY DERBY SERIES DEBUTS – NBC Sports, in partnership with Churchill Downs, will debut a new “Road to the Kentucky Derby” series Saturday after the Louisiana Derby coverage concludes, beginning at 6:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

The first of four 30-minute episodes features country music star Toby Keith, a lifelong racing fan who is now a Thoroughbred breeder and owner, and an interview with Sol Kumin, co-owner of Triple Crown winner Justify.

Produced by Churchill Downs, the episodes will provide viewers with an inside look at the extensive preparations for the first leg of the Triple Crown. Keith Wetzler, Executive Producer of Broadcast at Churchill Downs, produces the series.

Coverage will be streamed live on and the NBC Sports app – NBC Sports Group’s live streaming product for mobile devices, tablets, and connected TVs.


WAR OF WILL HOPES TO BECOME FOURTH HORSE IN FIVE YEARS TO SWEEP RISEN STAR, LOUISIANA DERBY DOUBLE – With a victory in Saturday’s Louisiana Derby (Grade II), Gary Barber’s War of Will could become the fourth horse in the last five years to sweep the Risen Star-Louisiana Derby double.

War of Will, who is the heavy 6-5 morning line favorite for Saturday’s 1 1/8-mile race, won both the Risen Star (GII) and Lecomte Stakes (GIII) at Fair Grounds. The last horse to sweep the three Road to the Kentucky Derby prep races at Fair Grounds was International Star in 2015.

International Star (2015), Gun Runner (2016) and Girvin (2017) won the Risen Star prior to their Louisiana Derby victory.


BETTER WITH AGE – Long Range Toddy won the first division of the Rebel Stakes (GII) on Saturday with 58-year-old jockey Jon Courtaboard. Should Court ride Long Range Toddy in the Kentucky Derby, he’d be the oldest jockey to ever ride in the race.

Court, who is represented by 67-year-old agent Steve Krajcir, has ridden in the Kentucky Derby three times and his best finish was eighth aboard Will Take Charge in 2013.

Jockey Bobby Baird rode in the 1978 Derby at age 57. The oldest jockey to win the Kentucky Derby was Bill Shoemaker at age 54 when he rode Ferdinand to victory in 1986.


ADDITIONAL TRIPLE CROWN NEWS – Training is set to begin Friday at Churchill Downs. The backstretch opened Tuesday and trainersGreg Foley and Dallas Stewart were the first to arrive.





Saturday, March 23, $1 million, 3yo, 1 1/8 M, Fair Grounds (R13), Post time: 6:13 p.m. EDT. New Orleans, La., Top 4 Points: 100-40-20-10. TV: NBCSN, TVG


  # Horse (Points)         Jockey                      Trainer                    ML

1. Roiland (10)              James Graham         Tom Amoss              12-1

2. Lemniscate (0)           Brian Hernandez Jr.  Kenny McPeek         15-1

3. Limonite (2)              Jose Ortiz                 Steve Asmussen         20-1

4. Sueno (8)                   Corey Lanerie           Keith Desormeaux      8-1

5. By My Standards (0)   Gabriel Saez             Bret Calhoun            12-1

6. War of Will (60)        Tyler Gaffalione      Mark Casse                 6-5

7. Mr. Money (2)            Adam Beschizza       Bret Calhoun            20-1

8. Country House (20)    Luis Saez                  Bill Mott                     9-2

9. Bankit (4)                  Irad Ortiz Jr.            Steve Asmussen         20-1

10. Spinoff (0)                 John Velazquez         Todd Pletcher            8-1

11. Hog Creek Hustle (9)  Miguel Mena             Vickie Foley             12-1


Sunday, March 24, $800,000, 3yo, 1 1/8 M, Sunland Park (R11), Post time: 7:30 p.m. EDT, Hobbs, N.M., Top 4 Points: 50-20-10-5. TV: TVG


  # Horse (Points)         Jockey                      Trainer                    ML

1. Mucho Gusto (14)      Joe Talamo              Bob Baffert                8-5

2. Anothertwistafate (10)  Juan Hernandez        Blaine Wright       3-1

3. +Hustle Up (0)           Shane Laviolette       Todd Fincher             5-1

4. Wicked Indeed (1)     Luis Contreras          Steve Asmussen           6-1

5. Cutting Humor (0)      John Velazquez         Todd Pletcher            8-1

6. Walker Stalker (0)      Alejandro Medellin   Jose Gonzalez Jr.      15-1

7. +Pasamonte Man (0)  Ken Tohill               Joel Marr                  20-1

8. +Collusionist (0)        Alfredo Juarez Jr.      O.A. Martinez Jr.       25-1

9. Diamond Blitz (0)     Kent Desormeaux     Keith Desormeaux    15-1

10. Eye Cloud (0)            Isaias Enriquez         Tracy Norris            30-1

+Not Triple Crown Nominated


Saturday, March 23, $400,000, 3yo fillies, 1 1/16 M, Fair Grounds (R12), Post time: 5:44 p.m. EDT. New Orleans, La., Top 4 Points: 100-40-20-10. TV: NBCSN, TVG


#  Horse (Points)          Jockey                      Trainer                    ML

1.  Speedette (0)               Corey Lanerie           Keith Desormeaux    10-1

2.  Serengeti Empress (60)                                James Graham         Tom Amoss          6-5

3.  Street Band (5)            Sophie Doyle           Larry Jones                 8-1

4.  Sweet Diane (2)           Joe Bravo                 Mike Stidham             8-1

5.  ++Crescentcitypretty (0)    Miguel Mena             Tyron Benoit            15-1

6.  Eres Tu (14)                Jose Ortiz                 Steve Asmussen           6-1

7.  Slewgoodtobetrue (0)   Florent Geroux         Peter Eurton               8-1

8.  Liora (31)                    Channing Hill           Wayne Catalano         5-1



Sunday, March 24, $200,000, 3yo fillies, 1 1/16 M, Sunland Park (R9), Post time: 6:27 p.m. EDT. Hobbs, N.M.., Top 4 Points: 50-20-10-5. TV: TVG


  # Horse (Points)         Jockey                      Trainer                    ML

1. ++Victim of Love (0) Ry Eikleberry           Henry Dominguez      4-1

2. Parade of Roses (0)    Joe Talamo              Nate Williams          10-1

3. ++Figure (0)              Ken Tohill               Joel Marr                  12-1

4. ++Peaceoutyourhonor (0) Alfredo Juarez Jr.      Tony Sedillo             30-1

5. ++Backflash (0)         Luis Contreras          Steve Asmussen           6-1

6. ++K P Slickem (0)     Tyler Baze                Weston Martin            8-1

7. Chasing Yesterday (10)                               Drayden Van Dyke   Bob Baffert          9-5

8. Enlisting (0)               Kent Desormeaux     Bob Hess Jr.               5-1

  9. Bellafina (32)             Flavien Prat              Simon Callahan          7-5


++Not Kentucky Oaks Nominated




Date         Race                                        Track           Top 4 Points

March 23  Louisiana Derby                       FG               100-40-20-10

March 24  Sunland Derby                         Sun               50-20-10-5

March 30  UAE Derby                              Meydan        100-40-20-10

March 30  Florida Derby                          GP               100-40-20-10

March 31  Fukuryu#                                  Nakyama      40-16-8-4

April 6      Wood Memorial                       Aqu              100-40-20-10

April 6      Blue Grass                                Kee              100-40-20-10

April 6      Santa Anita Derby                    SA                100-40-20-10

April 11    Cardinal Condition*                 Chelmsford  30-12-6-3

April 13    Arkansas Derby                        OP               100-40-20-10

April 13    Lexington                                 Kee              20-8-4-2


# Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby

* European Road to the Kentucky Derby




·        Episode 7: A Big Race for an Intimate Track

·        Episode 6: A Potential Super Star

·        Episode 5: Follow Trainer Kelly Breen as he Trains Son of Orb

·        Episode 4 :Kenny McPeek – The Underdog Trainer

·        Episode 3: Breeders’ Cup Battle Produces Early Derby Favorite R

·        Episode 2: A Twist in the Road at Keeneland

·        Episode 1: Neuroscience to the Iroquois Stakes


PAST PERFORMANCES & HISTORY Triple Crown Past Performances


Louisiana Derby Stakes History


Sunland Derby Stakes History


Louisiana Derby Past Performances




·     One word to describe Rebel Stakes (Grade II) winner Long Range Toddy’s career is “consistent.” Owned by Arkansas-native Willis Horton, Long Range Toddy sports four victories through seven races with his only off-the-board finish coming in his career debut where he finished fourth. Trained by Hall of Fame conditioner Steve Asmussen, Long Range Toddy has amassed 53.5 points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby and likely stamped himself a spot in the starting gate for the first Saturday in May.

·     Owner information: Willis Horton, a 78-year-old native of Marshall, Ark., developed D.R. Horton Custom Homes, which became the nation’s largest builder of single-family homes. Horton retired in the early 1990s and began focusing on owning horses with his brother Leon, son Cam and his nephew Terry. Most notably, Horton campaigned Longines Kentucky Oaks winner Lemons Forever and champion 3-year-old Will Take Charge. Horton had two horses run in the Kentucky Derby – Will Take Charge (2013, 9th) and Combatant (2018, 18th).


·     Trainer information: Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen is a perennial leading conditioner in the U.S. with more than 8,300 career victories including 44 Grade I scores. Asmussen, 53, was born in South Dakota but moved to Laredo, Texas at a young age. Asmussen’s family is heavily involved in the horse racing industry. His father, Keith, is a retired jockey and mother, Marilyn, is a retired trainer. The family operates the El Primero Training Center – a breeding and sales operation in south Texas. Asmussen’s older brother, Cash, is a trainer and retired Eclipse Award-winning jockey. Some of Asmussen’s top horses include CurlinGun RunnerRachel Alexandra and Untapable– Kevin Kerstein






Game Winner and Improbable returned to the races in separate divisions of Saturday’s Rebel (GII) at Oaklawn Park and while both came up a little short for Bob Baffert, supporters still had reason to be encouraged by their runner-up finishes.

Those seeking clarity regarding favoritism for the 2019 Kentucky Derby came away disappointed.

Long Range Toddy and Omaha Beach denied the odds-on favorites, each picking up 37.5 points, and now appear well-situated to make a projected 20-horse Kentucky Derby field. Since the advent of the Road to the Kentucky Derby series in 2013, 32 points has been the highest cut-off point (Mo Tom in 2016).

Seventeen qualifiers have been offered this year and the only two-time winner, War of Will, will seek a third this Saturday in the $1 million Louisiana Derby (GII) at Fair Grounds. The Mark Casse-trained colt heads a field of 11 and the 1 1/8-mile race serves as the first of seven major final preps awarding points on a 100-40-20-10 scale to the top four finishers.

The Kentucky Derby is six weeks from Saturday.


Rebel First Division


Long Range Toddy broke on top from his inside post and showed the way into the first turn of the 1 1/16-mile Rebel before relinquishing the advantage to Classy John. The Steve Asmussen-trained sophomore settled nicely for new rider Jon Court, easing back to race a couple of lengths off the pace along the backstretch, and patiently saved ground behind a quartet of horses on the far turn.

Willis Horton homebred son of Take Charge Indy, Long Range Toddy angled out for clear sailing while straightening for home but remained fourth with a sixteenth of a mile remaining. The dark bay colt found his best stride in deep stretch, rallying determinedly to overhaul Improbable by a neck, and netted a 104 BRIS Late Pace number for the commendable finish. He went off as the 8-1 third choice among eight runners.

The winner took a big step forward from a BRIS Speed perspective, earning a 97 figure, and is improving at the right time. Out of anUnbridled’s Song mare, Long Range Toddy possesses the pedigree and appears built for longer distances.

Long Range Toddy received only an 89 Speed rating posting an upset win in the Remington Springboard Mile in mid-December. He did a little better when opening the year in the Smarty Jones, garnering a 92 for a neck second, and recorded a 91 for a troubled third in the Feb. 18 Southwest (GIII) at Oaklawn. It was easy to appreciate the push-button acceleration he displayed in the Rebel stretch and Long Range Toddy’s tractability is an asset.

Improbable broke from the far outside and had ample opportunity to drop behind rivals a few jumps out of the starting gate. Drayden Van Dyke held his outside positioning and that became an issue when Galilean, who missed the break, rushed forward and pushed Improbable even wider into the first turn.

The 2-5 favorite continued to take the overland path along the backstretch and launched his move while entering the far turn. The crowd roared as Improbable advanced to take a short lead into upper stretch and it momentarily appeared as if a romping win was materializing. But instead of storming into a commanding advantage, Improbable lacked an extra gear and led

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Jennie Rees