It’s always an interesting time of year as trainers begin to play their own version of musical chairs with their 3-year-old runners in Kentucky Derby preps.
Last week after winning the Sham with McKinzie, trainer Bob Baffert made a statement the horse may run in California or he may run in Arkansas.
This week it is Jerry Hollendorfer that ships and sends his $1 million Derby hopefuls to Louisiana from California.
The Grade III LeComte is set for Saturday at the Fair Grounds. The race is the ninth on the card and is set for a 3:03 p.m. post.
Instilled Regard has four career starts, winning once, running second twice and third once. All four starts have come in California, as well has all the horses works. But Hollendorfer ships the horse east.
Set to be ridden by Javier Castellano for the first time, Instilled Regard’s last start was a second place (well, he was third but got moved up via disqualification) in the Los Alamitos Futurity.
That performance was made to look even better by the solid effort from McKinzie (winner of the Los Al race) in the Sham. The horse looks solid here (4-1), but there are some other serious looking runners.
The favorite should be Principe Guilherme (5-2), a Steve Asmussen runner. Florent Geroux gets the call for a horse that has won both starts and won them easily. In his debut at Churchill Downs, he won by six lengths, then came back in mid-December at the Fair Grounds and crushed the field by 11-lengths in an optional claimer. This will be step up for the horse, but there is plenty to like about the speedster.
There are other horses of interest, including Kowboy Karma (6-1) out of the Larry Jones barn. Kowboy Karma, scheduled to be ridden by Brian Hernandez Jr., has a pair of wins in five starts, but has run at four different tracks and seen tougher races than the probable favorite.
There have been a series of good works over the track and his closing style may work well if a duel develops out front.
Prince Lucky (8-1) is another Jones runner that has three wins in four starts and is another that is taking a step up. Julien Leparoux takes the call for the horse that also appears to run from off the pace.
Finally, Zeke (15-1) is another I will give a look at. There is nothing in the past form for the Michael Stidham runner that screams out, but the price is tasty for a horse that has won both career starts and won with different styles.
In his debut at Laurel, Zeke wired the field, but then came back in an optional claimer at the Fair Grounds and charged five wide from the middle of the pack to get up and get the win. Joe Bravo, the rider for the last start, is back for this trip.
A reach? Perhaps, but if you are looking for a value play, look here.
By Dennis Miller