It gets real starting Saturday when it comes to Kentucky Derby prep races, as the Louisiana Derby takes place at the Fair Grounds.
The race is the 14th on the Fair Grounds card with the post time set for 3:44 p.m. PDT.
It is all about picking up qualifying points throughout the prep season allowing the horse and their connections to earn a spot in the starting gate on the first Saturday in May.
There are 170 points up for grabs here, with the breakdown going 100-40-20-10.
Here is a look at the top contenders.
Mandaloun (Brad Cox/Florent Geroux/8-5) is the morning line favorite coming off his win February 13 in the Risen Star over the Fair Grounds track.
He has won three of four, with the one loss coming as the heavy favorite in the Lecomte, the first prep at the Fair Grounds. That day he got caught wide and finished third.
Hot Rod Charlie (Leandro Mora/Joel Rosario/3-1) is the second choice as he ships in from California. He was third in the Lewis at Santa Anita on January 30.
With only one win in six starts, he nearly turned the horse racing world on its ear when he was second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at 94-1 in November. Might be little lower than he deserves, but he can prove me wrong in this race.
Proxy (Michael Stidham/John Velazquez/7-2) was second in the Lecomte and second in the Risen Star. He’s shown he can handle the track, and that he can deal with adversity as he has bumped at the break in the last two.
Figures to sit just off the pace and tries to pick them off in the lane.
Midnight Bourbon (Steve Asmussen/Joe Talamo/5-1) won the Lecomte at 3-1, then came back and was third in the Risen Star. In the last two starts he has shown a fondness to be on or near the lead.
In the Risen Star he was in a good spot when they hit the lane, but then turned in a lackluster stretch and fell to third.
Starrininmydreams (Dallas Stewart/Luis Saez/20-1) might be one I throw on my ticket to add some value. He came off an almost three month break and laid an egg in the Risen Star, finishing ninth, beaten 27 lengths.
Obviously, he needed the start and has turned in a strong series of works for this. No where to go but up!
By Dennis Miller