Lecomte Stakes Is First Louisiana Derby Prep On Tap In 2021

By Margaret Ransom

Horse Racing - USR Photo

Horse Racing – USR Photo

Triple Crown hopefuls in Louisiana take their first steps in 2021 toward the Kentucky Derby (G1) in Saturday’s the $200,000 Lecomte Stakes (G3) at the Fair Grounds.

The 1-mile, 70-yard race offers Derby qualifying points of 10-4-2-1 to the top four finishers seeking a spot in the gate for the Run for the Roses at Churchill Downs in 3 ½ months.

A year ago, John Oxley’s well-bred Enforceable was the handy winner for trainer Mark Casse, who also saddled Gary Barber’s 2019 winner War of Will — who went on to win the Preakness (G1).

A field of 11 has been entered, including likely top choices Mandaloun, trained by rising star Brad Cox, and Midnight Bourbon, trained by Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen.

Race named for a horse

The Lecomte was named after a racehorse from the 1850s, who was known as the main rival to the great Lexington. Lecomte was out of the legendary broodmare Reel, by Glencoe, whose blood has been or currently can be found in a number of notable racehorses and their relatives, such as Winning Colors, Chief’s Crown, Chris Evert, Prioress and Tim Tam.

The racehorse Lecomte was named for breeder General Wells’ friend Ambrose Lecomte, of Natchitoches, Louisiana, who founded Magnolia Plantation, which is located in the Cane River Creole district and currently is listed as one of the state’s national park landmarks.

Though pre-Civil War slaves were a part of the operation of Magnolia Plantation, after the war the owners made significant changes and lent significant support to the Civil Rights movement.

From the plantation’s website:

“After the Civil War and through the Civil Rights Movement Magnolia continued to function, though in a distinctly different way. Among the many challenges was establishing a new relationship with the formerly enslaved workers who remained on the plantation as sharecroppers, tenants, and day laborers. All of Magnolia’s residents worked to find a new level of social and economic understanding and accommodation.”

Lecomte has produced several top horses

Some of the more recognizable names to have won the Lecomte include 2013 Preakness winner Oxbow, Risen Star (G2) and Louisiana Derby (G2) winner Friesen Fire, Kentucky Derby and Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) runner-up (and now standout sire) Hard Spun, and 1982 Preakness runner-up Linkage. It has traditionally served as the first prep for Derby runners from the Pelican State and is followed by the Risen Star in February and Louisiana Derby in March.

The weather in the New Orleans area on Saturday is expected to be pleasant with highs near 60 under sunny skies.

The 2021 field

The Lecomte has been carded as the afternoon’s 13th race with a post time of 5:49 p.m. CT. The field, in post-position order, with riders and trainers, is:

Midnight Bourbon
Ricardo Santana, Jr.
Steve Asmussen
Tiznow—Catch the Moon, by Malibu Moon
Arabian Prince
Brian Hernandez, Jr.
Dallas Stewart
Mshawish—Jolene, by Malibu Moon
Joe Talamo
Norman Casse
Tapizar—Speedy Bird, by Birdstone
Mitchell Murrill
Michael Stidham
Tapit—Panty Raid, by Include
Regular Guy
Miguel Mena
Wayne Catalano
Bernardini—Rebridled Dreams, by Unbridled’s Song
Game Day Play
Gabriel Saez
Bret Calhoun
Violence—Haley’s Lolipop, by Cuvee
Santa Cruiser
James Graham
Keith Desormeaux
Dialed In—Sweet Sermon, by Tapit
Red N Wild
Declan Carroll
Terry Eoff
Bayern—Contrasting, by Distorted Humor
Manor House
Adam Beschizza
Mike Stidham
Upstart—Cascina, by Dixie Union
Florent Geroux
Brad Cox
Into Mischief—Brooch, by Empire Maker
Dyn O Mite
Colby Hernandez
Keith Desormeaux
Goldencents—Boom Boom Dynamite, by Langfuhr
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