LeComte Stakes (1/16/15)

The Grade III LeComte Stakes is run at a mile and 70 yards (indicated by an 8” in the Pace Figures) for newly turned three year-olds at Fair Grounds Race Course in New Orleans, LA. In its 16th year, the race is a Kentucky Derby qualifying race worth 10 points to the winner with a purse of $200,000 (60% to the winner, 20% to second, 10% to third, the remainder to 4th through 9th).

Get your FREE Pace Figures and Past Performances for the LeComte Stakes.

An eleven horse field with the favorite breaking from the outside post, we have provided commentary for our top two choices.

International Star (8-1)

The only runner in the field to race in the Breeders' Cup (Juvenile Turf), International Star comes out of the same race as the winner of the Jerome Handicap which Predicteform tabbed (read analysis here), El Kabier. What's interesting about that is El Kabier's solid performance of 74.8/73.6, SOFT Pattern, which indicates he did it rather easy.

The race favorite, Eagle, also comes out of the Jerome. Jockey Brian Hernandez stays aboard Eagle which is actually good, as International Star gets an upgrade to a 15% win percentage rider (from Hernandez's 8%).

His most recent 73.2/70.5 is his best effort on dirt, pre-dated by two positive Form Cycle Patterns – PLOW on 10/31 and REV on 10/5. Let's also not forget that his race on 10/31 was in the Breeders' Cup Turf, where you often see race regression for inexperienced runners.

The Play: Contender – The Jerome is a key race but of the two choices, we'll take the rail and jockey upgrade at 8-1 morning line instead of the race favorite who will be 5-2.

This is a very competitive field and something to like about the following horses:

War Story (9-2): Off an Nnew Pace Top (NPT) Form Cycle Pattern.

Savoy Stomp (8-1): Todd Pletcher at 8-1, jockey Mike Smith comes in from LA to ride and first time Lasix. His purchase price of $875k is just $100k less than the combined 10 other runner's yearling auction price!

Another Lemon Drop (6-1): An open length winner with three positive patterns in a row.

Eagle (3-1): The fastest final figure of the field at 75.7 and discussed earlier.

However we turn our eye to the most lightly raced runner in the field, Runhappy (8-1) and here's why:

His first out effort was a 74/84.5 figure, second highest final figure and fastest 4f figure in the field. And, while he did run a Negative Pattern (NEG), we discount the way that he did it.

Visually speaking, his last race was wild. He broke last, rushed to the lead for a good quarter mile and won easily while veering sideways against himself the length of the stretch. Given it was against a maiden field and the weakest lasr race field of all his competitors (which under normal circumstances would make him tough to back), but his pace figures say otherwise.

Runhappy is by 2014 second leading Freshman sire, Super Saver, who also was tied for the most graded stakes wins of the 130 Freshman sires (as tracked by Bloodhorse.com sire list).

It's an odd owner/trainer dynamic as furniture mogul Jim McIngvale has his daughter-in-law, Laura Wohlers train (note that she was 2 for 2 in 2014 with first time starters) and that she also trains Killingit owned by McIngvale.

The Play: Contender – in a field full of options, his last race figure of 74 first out means he could be anything. And, at 8-1 morning-line with a very good jockey in Shawn Bridgmohan, he has value.

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