Eagle, a colt with much promise, headlines a field of 11 newly-turned three-year-olds preparing to race Saturday afternoon in the 71st running of the Grade III $200,000 Lecomte Stakes at the Fair Grounds — the beginning of what could mark a magical ride to Churchill Downs.
At 5:24 p.m. Saturday, the stakes will be contested over one mile, 70 yards.
The Lecomte is the first of three major three-year-old graded stakes at the Fair Grounds, culminated by the Grade II $750,000 Louisiana Derby on March 28.
Eagle has two wins in four starts for owner William S. Farish and trainer Neil Howard, a two-time winner of the Lecomte. Eagle has showed promise in work completed at the Fair Grounds.
Competition is expected from Another Lemon Drop, which was broken with Eagle at a training center in Ocala, Fla. He’s the son of Lemon Drop Kid, which played spoiler to Charismatic’s 1999 Triple Crown run by winning the Belmont Stakes. Another Lemon Drop’s best showing so far was a five-length win on a sealed, sloppy surface on Dec. 19.
Kentucky Derby-winning jockey Calvin Borel, one of South Louisiana’s natives in the sport, will ride Another Lemon Drop.
Another challenger, Savoy Stomp, will make his fourth career start. The three-year-old won his debut race at Belmont Park in September before finishing fifth in the mud at Aqueduct’s Nashua Stakes in November.
International Star, the son of 2001 Kentucky Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus, has won or placed in stakes on multiple surfaces. He’s owned and trained by Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey, which last year, along with trainer Mike Maker, watched Vicar’s in Trouble win by 63/4 lengths at the Lecomte.
The rest of the Lecomte field includes Tiznow R J, Savoy Stomp, War Story, Four Leaf Chief, Hero of Humor, Runhappy, Killingit and Dekabrist.
Past Lecomte winners have included Kentucky Derby and Breeders’ Cup Classic runner-up Hard Spun (2007) and Preakness Stakes winner Oxbow (2013).
The Fair Grounds expect a memorable $125,000 Silverbulletday Stakes, led by Top Decile, which is two half-length losses from three wins in three starts. Mike Smith takes over after the retirement of regular jockey Rosie Napravnik.
West Coast Belle won the Grade II $200,000 Golden Rod Stakes, while trainer, Larry Jones, who has won the race twice in the last six years, enters I’m a Chatterbox (Fletcher and Carolyn Gray) and Divine Dawn (Tommy Ligon and Michael Pressley).
Clubhouse dining room reservations are available for the Louisiana Derby Day, scheduled for March 28. The event highlights the 143rd thoroughbred racing season, the 102nd running of the Grade II Louisiana Derby and seven other stakes races.
Reservations start at $70. For more information, call (504) 943-2200.
General admission on Louisiana Derby Day is $10; clubhouse admission is $15.
First post on Louisiana Derby Day will be 12:30 p.m.