Handicapping the TwinSpires.com Louisiana Derby

Profile Picture: James Scully

March 19th, 2020

The Kentucky Derby (G1) has been rescheduled for Sept. 5, but Saturday’s $1 million TwinSpires.com Louisiana Derby (G2) at Fair Grounds remains a major qualifier.

It awards points on a 100-40-20-10 scale to the top four finishers, and a full field of 14 3-year-olds are entered for the 1 3/16-mile event.

Here is my analysis of the Louisiana Derby and some wagering suggestions.

Inside speed could be an advantage

Two of the three confirmed speed horses are marooned in outside starting positions, with Ny Traffic in post 11 and Modernist in post 14, and Wells Bayou has an advantage in post 3. A son of Lookin at Lucky, the sire of 2019 Kentucky Derby winner Country House, Wells Bayou opened this year with a sharp, frontrunning score at Oaklawn Park, where he registered a commendable 96 Brisnet Speed rating for the four-length decision over a muddy track.

Jockey Florent Geroux, who has excelled with frontrunners this year in wire-to-wire wins aboard Ete Indien in the Fountain of Youth (G2) at Gulfstream Park and Mr. Monomoy in the first division of the Risen Star (G2), picked up the mount last time and sent Wells Bayou straight to the lead from an inside post in the Southwest (G3) at Oaklawn Park. The Brad Cox-trained colt showed the way through fast fractions, dug in gamely when challenged in the stretch by the seasoned Silver Prospector, and finished 5 1/4 lengths clear of third in a commendable runner-up effort.

Wells Bayou is certainly eligible to keep moving forward in his second stakes attempt and third start off the layoff, and he is bred for the added ground. From the same female family of 2008 Kentucky Derby winner Big Brown, Wells Bayou should be prominent from the start on a projected moderate pace, and I like his chances.

Contenders with experience at Fair Grounds

If Wells Bayou falters on the front end, Enforceable should receive a favorable setup. The gray son of Tapit progressed nicely over the winter. He opened his 3-year-old season with a convincing win in the Lecomte (G3) at Fair Grounds, but the colt dropped too far back in the early stages of the Risen Star and was still able to rally for second in the second division of the Risen Star.

Silver State will be afforded another chance, after a disappointing third in the first division of the Risen Star. The Hard Spun colt came up empty after he received a perfect stalking trip, but Silver State appears to be training forwardly for Steve Asmussen, with a recent 6-furlong bullet workout, and it’s easy to appreciate his last three Brisnet Late Pace numbers (99, 100, and 98). He’s dangerous.


I will play Wells Bayou (#3) to win, and key him with Enforceable (#10) and Silver State (#13) in vertical exotic wagers.

$30 win: #3 Wells Bayou
$10 exacta part-wheel: 3 over 10 and 13 ($20)
50-cent trifecta part-wheel: 3 over "All" over 10,13 ($12)