Photo: Carolyn Simancik/Eclipse Sportswire
papacap, the Breeders’ Cup juvenile finalist for Hall of Fame coach Mark Casse, headlines a group of nine sophomores who are set to go further in next Saturday’s $200,000 Lecomte Stakes (G3) at Fair Grounds, a paid preparation for the Kentucky Derby.
Pappacap drew post 3 and will have regular rider Joe Bravo in irons. The Gun Runner colt currently sits atop the Kentucky Derby standings with 12 qualifying points. In addition to earning four points in the Breeders’ Cup, he was already second to juvenile winner Corniche in the American Pharoah (G1) and fourth in the Del Mar Futurity (G1).
The 1 1/16 mile Lecomte offers points on a scale of 10-4-2-1 to the top four finishers.
Pappacap’s main rival will be the epicenter of coach Steve Asmussen. After graduating at Churchill Downs at the No. 2 start last November, the Colt Not This Time returned in the Dec. 26 Gun Runner at Fair Grounds and claimed victory by 6 1/2 lengths.
Epicenter, which was piloted by Brian Hernandez Jr. in the Gun Runner, will reunite with Eclipse Award finalist Joel Rosario, who was in irons for his first victory. They will detach from position 5.
Asmussen also entered Presidential, who will make his first start since graduating by 7 3/4 lengths at Indiana Grand in August. Hernandez moves on to this Pioneer of the Nile colt, which was a $625,000 auction buy.
Coach Dallas Stewart is also present with a pair. He has Surfer Dude, who was well beaten by Epicenter when he was third in the Gun Runner, and Unified Report. Louisiana’s unified ratio is a perfect 3-for-3 with a pair of state wins. Corey Lanerie will be in the saddle.
Trainer Brad Cox entered Cyberknife, another Gun Runner colt that fetched $400,000 at auction as a yearling. He was disqualified with a win on his debut, then narrowly missed the next time against maidens, before breaking through to graduate at Fair Grounds when he stretched to two rounds.
Blue Kentucky for coach Wayne Catalano is the most experienced in the field with six starts under his belt. The son of Include won a sprint race at Churchill Downs in November and came back third in the Sugar Bowl by six furlongs at Fair Grounds on December 27.
Rounding out the pack are first-time winner Call Me Midnight for trainer Keith Desormeaux, who will make his first since finishing the board last November Kentucky Jockey Club (G2); and Trafalgar, coming off an optional indemnity/win at Fair Grounds on Dec. 2 for coach Al Stall Jr.
The Lecomte is scheduled as the 14th and final race on the program. The scheduled post time is 7:20 p.m. EST.