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Talented Field In Louisiana Headlines Four Derby Preps

Instant Coffee Aims To Remain Hot Derby Prospect

Instant Coffee will be the likely favorite when as many as a dozen horses go to the post for the $1 million Grade 2 Louisiana Derby on Saturday at Fair Grounds in New Orleans.

The son of Bolt d’Oro already has plenty of points to get a spot in the Kentucky Derby on May 6 after winning the Lecomte at Fair Grounds on Jan. 21 last time out and the Kentucky Jockey Club in November at Churchill. But Instant Coffee hopes to reaffirm his spot as one of the favorites for the great race in his final tune-up.

Jockey Sonny Leon reacts after Rich Strike wins
Jockey Sonny Leon reacts after Rich Strike wins - Carmen Mandato/Getty Images/afp

Instant Coffee should have strong opposition from an abundance of talented closers while trainer Todd Pletcher’s promising Kingsbarns should be near or on the lead in his first stakes race.

The Louisiana Derby, along with the $2.5 million Group 2 UAE Derby overseas and the $700,000 Grade 3 Jeff Ruby Steaks at Turfway Park in Kentucky, offer 100 points to the winner and 40 to second place. Sunday’s $800,000 Grade 3 Sunland Derby in New Mexico rewards 50 points to the victor.

Kingsbarns Steps Up

Instant Coffee has won three of his four races, but must get the right trip to unleash his big rally for another victory.

Trainer Brad Cox may be able to set up the pace Instant Coffee needs with his other runner in the Louisiana Derby, which goes off at about 6:42 p.m. ET as Race 12. Jace’s Road, who breaks from the outside 12 post, will have to send to get position and could vie with Kingsbarns (6) for the lead.

While there are other closers in the race to battle Instant Coffee (2), such as Shopper’s Revenge (1), Curly Jack (3), Sun Thunder (4), Single Ruler (8), Denington (10), and Baseline Beater (12), there are also a few wild cards.

Trainer Steve Asmussen’s Disarm (5) was second in an allowance at Oaklawn Park last month, but was impressive in breaking his maiden at Saratoga last summer. Tapit’s Conquest (9), fourth in the Risen Star last month at Fair Grounds, could stay closer to the pace and get the jump on Instant Coffee – fourth in the Las Vegas Kentucky Derby odds.

You can go a number of ways, but we think Kingsbarns might be the real deal. Bet 6 over 2,4,5 and 9 in exactas and trifectas.

Japan Vs Cairo In UAE

Trainer Aidan O’Brien sends out the likely favorite in the horse racing odds Cairo for the 1 3/16-mile UAE Derby at Meydan Racecourse in the UAE.

The son of Quality Road has won three times and finished second twice in five career races as he prepares to move up in class for the Group 2 event. Cairo breaks from the 3-hole and could get a good trip while a host of strong Japanese runners will be ready for battle.

Derma Sotogake, Dura Erede and Perriere could be the top contenders among the Japanese runners, but Continuar and Goraiko cannot be counted out.

Trainer Doug O’Neill has Tall Boy and Ah Jeez in the field as well while Bob Baffert sends out Worcester. Due to Baffert’s suspension by Churchill Downs, Worcester cannot earn Derby points.

We like the Japanese horses in this one. Bet Derma Sotogake and Perriere on top with Cairo, Dura Erede and Worcester underneath.

A Major Dude?

Rich Strike finished a non-threatening third in the Jeff Ruby Steaks on the all-weather track before shocking the world to win the Kentucky Derby last year.

At least two from this year’s race will have the opportunity to make the field for the Kentucky Derby, but it is not an easy race to predict.

The likely favorite at the racebook will be Pletcher’s Major Dude, who is 3 for 7 overall and won the Grade 3 Kitten’s Joy on turf last time out Feb. 4. Major Dude breaks from the rail and will face Battaglia Memorial champ Congruent (8), along with Two Phil’s (10), who was third in the Risen Star and 2 ½ lengths behind Instant Coffee in the Lecomte.

Scoobie Quando (2) was second in the Battaglia and speedy Funtastic Again (4) is 2 for 2 at Turfway Park to add another pair of contenders in the wide-open battle that goes off as Race 12 at 6:25 p.m. ET.

No one can be counted out, but a 1-2-10 exacta box is the bet.

Seven Vie at Sunland

One horse that has stayed in Baffert’s barnr could be the top horse in the Sunland Derby, which runs at about 6:45 p.m. ET on Sunday as Race 10.

Jockey Flavian Prat will be aboard Hard to Figure (6), who is still with Baffert after finishing second in the Robert Lewis Stakes in February.

Henry Q (4) won the Mine That Bird Derby by 14 lengths last time out and One in Vermillion (5) took the Riley Allison Derby at Sunland in January. Both will show speed, but may not have the class of the others.

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