The winner of last year’s Lecomte Stakes may have slipped into obscurity as Call Me Midnight lost his next eight races in 2022. Yet the Fair Grounds’ Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve prep enjoyed quite a bit of quality with the field including future Runhappy Travers Stakes winner Epicenter, the favorite to be named the 2022 champion 3-year-old male, and Cyberknife, who went on to take the TVG.com Haskell Stakes and Arkansas Derby.
This year’s field of 3-year-olds also has a few promising runners among the field of eight that will slug it out over 1 1/16 miles on Saturday.
1. Echo Again (6-1 morning-line odds): Set the pace and finished third while turning in a solid effort in the Remington Springboard Mile. Should be on the lead once again and drawing the rail helps his cause. Figures to be a major player.
3. Bromley (5-1): Has won his two starts, but one was on a synthetic surface at Turfway Park. He has yet to race beyond 6 1/2 furlongs, so there are questions about his ability to handle two turns while facing stakes company for the first time.
4. Confidence Game (8-1): Seems to be on the upswing with an improved, winning effort at Churchill Downs last time out. He’s already traveled this distance three times and can be a factor if he duplicates his last try.
5. Tapit’s Conquest (9-2): Comes off a sharp maiden win and has put in some promising workouts since that Oct. 1 victory at a 1 1/16-mile distance. Comes from a top barn and cannot be ignored, although the time was on the slow side and he is also entered in an allowance race earlier on the card.
6. Itzos (10-1): Like his stablemate Bromley, he steps into stakes company after a sprint win on a synthetic surface at Turfway Park. He should be part of a lively pace and will need an improved effort to figure in the outcome.
7. Instant Coffee (5-2): Looked the part of a Kentucky Derby candidate in winning the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes as a heavy favorite. Has the kind of running style to benefit from a fast pace and looks like the one to beat here from a barn with a good track record in the Derby preps and Triple Crown.
8. Two Phil’s (4-1): Comes off a big win in the Grade 3 Street Sense Stakes at Churchill Downs, though that was in the slop. He was no factor in the Grade 1 Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland but seems to be getting better and should be a factor provided the outside post does not pose a problem.
THE PICK: Instant Coffee
LIVE LONGSHOT: Denington