May 26, 2024

War of Will goes for Fair Grounds preps sweep in Louisiana Derby

War of Will wins the 75th running of the Lecomte Stakes (G2) at Fair Grounds on January 19, 2019 (c) Hodges Photography/Lou Hodges Jr.

No rival has yet made a dent in War of Will‘s leadership of the three-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 (G1) 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 100-40-20-10 to the top four finishers.

War of Will is already safely in the Churchill Downs classic having accumulated 60 points by winning the Lecomte (G3) and Risen Star (G2) 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 (4) 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 (G2) 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 (G3) and Southwest (G3). In the latter, he out-finished Long Range Toddy, who came back to defeat Improbable in the first division of last Saturday’s Rebel (G2).

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 Lemniscate. Limonite, third in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) 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.