Mo Tom winning the 2016 LeComte Stakes (gr. III) – Photo by Amanda Weir Hodges/Hodges Photography
With less than two weeks remaining until the $200,000 Lecomte Stakes (gr. III) at Fair Grounds, the field for the 8.5-furlong Kentucky Derby prep race is starting to take shape.
A quarantine at Fair Grounds due to an outbreak of Equine Herpesvirus could limit the Lecomte to horses already based at Fair Grounds, but judging from the list of probable starters, this might have a minimal impact on the quality of the race. Remington Springboard Mile winner Cool Arrow is one of the leading contenders, along with the unbeaten Saint’s Fan, who brought his record to a perfect 2-for-2 with a win in the Louisiana Champions Day Juvenile Stakes at Fair Grounds last month.
Dallas Stewart owns and trains Saint’s Fan, a horse that he bred himself. The son of Tale of Ekati breezed four furlongs in :49 seconds on December 29th, but hasn’t worked since.
“He’s great right now,” Stewart was quoted as saying in the Fair Grounds Barn Notes for January 6th. “With the weather being how it is, we may wait a few days to work him again. There’s no rush with a 3-year-old like him right now. We’ll let this system go through and then work him and get him ready.
“If for any reason he can’t make the (Grade III $200,000) Lecomte (Stakes on Jan. 21), he will go to Delta (Downs) and run against statebreds. There’s a lot of money up there, too.”
Another prominent runner expected for the Lecomte is Guest Suite, who scored an impressive 6 1/2-length win in a one-mile allowance race at Churchill Downs on November 26th. Trained by Neil Howard and owned by William S. Farish and Mrs. William S. Kilroy, Guest Suite has been training steadily at Fair Grounds since early December.
“He’s coming along very well,” Howard was quoted as saying in the Fair Grounds Barn Notes for January 8th. “Mr. Farish, Mrs. Kilroy, (jockey) Robby (Albarado) and I have all been really pleased with him so far. I know Robby, especially, was very happy with his last race. But, just like anything, it’s always good to take the wait and see approach and I’m happy that he’s doing well.”
Albarado, who has ridden Guest Suite in his last three races, will be aboard once again in the Lecomte.
“I really like him,” said Albarado. “I’m excited to ride him in the Lecomte. Howard has been very good to me throughout my career and I think this horse has a lot of talent.”
Other horses expected to join the Lecomte field are Running Mate, who won an allowance race at Fair Grounds before placing third in the Sugar Bowl Stakes; Shareholder Value, who rebounded from a sixth-place finish in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (gr. II) to win an allowance race at Fair Grounds; and the maiden winners Girvin, Marco Mischief, Phat Man, and Takeoff.
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