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:

PP
Horse
Jockey
Trainer
Pedigree
1
Midnight Bourbon
Ricardo Santana, Jr.
Steve Asmussen
Tiznow—Catch the Moon, by Malibu Moon
2
Arabian Prince
Brian Hernandez, Jr.
Dallas Stewart
Mshawish—Jolene, by Malibu Moon
3
Beep
Joe Talamo
Norman Casse
Tapizar—Speedy Bird, by Birdstone
4
Proxy
Mitchell Murrill
Michael Stidham
Tapit—Panty Raid, by Include
5
Regular Guy
Miguel Mena
Wayne Catalano
Bernardini—Rebridled Dreams, by Unbridled’s Song
6
Game Day Play
Gabriel Saez
Bret Calhoun
Violence—Haley’s Lolipop, by Cuvee
7
Santa Cruiser
James Graham
Keith Desormeaux
Dialed In—Sweet Sermon, by Tapit
8
Red N Wild
Declan Carroll
Terry Eoff
Bayern—Contrasting, by Distorted Humor
9
Manor House
Adam Beschizza
Mike Stidham
Upstart—Cascina, by Dixie Union
10
Mandaloun
Florent Geroux
Brad Cox
Into Mischief—Brooch, by Empire Maker
11
Dyn O Mite
Colby Hernandez
Keith Desormeaux
Goldencents—Boom Boom Dynamite, by Langfuhr
Margaret Ransom
California native and lifelong horsewoman Margaret Ransom is a graduate of the University of Arizona’s Race Track Industry Program. She got her start in racing working in the publicity departments at Calder Race Course and Hialeah Park, as well as in the racing office at Gulfstream Park in South Florida. She then spent six years in Lexington, KY, at BRISnet.com where she helped create and develop the company’s popular newsletters, Handicapper’s Edge and Bloodstock Journal.

After returning to California, she served six years as the Southern California news correspondent for BloodHorse, assisted in the publicity department at Santa Anita Park and and was a contributor to many other racing publications, including HorsePlayer Magazine and Trainer Magazine. She then spent seven years at HRTV and HRTV.com in various roles as researcher, programming assistant, producer and social media and marketing manager. She has also walked hots and groomed runners, worked the elite sales in Kentucky for top-class consignors and volunteers for several race horse retirement organizations, including CARMA.

Margaret’s very first Breeders’ Cup was at Hollywood Park in 1984 and she has attended more than half of the Breeders’ Cups since. She counts Holy Bull as her favorite horse of all time. She lives in Pasadena with her longtime beau, Tony, three Australian Shepherds and one Golden Retriever.