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Wed 23/03/2016 - 20:12 EDT

Kentucky Derby Hopefuls Set to Battle in Grade 2 Louisiana Derby

The Road to the Kentucky Derby runs through New Orleans March 25 as the 103rd running of the Grade 2, $1 million Louisiana Derby is the featured event at the Fair Grounds with a field of eleven set to contest the mile and an eighth event. 

Mo Tom is the 5/2 morning line favorite, but there is no guarantee the Tom Amoss trainee will be the post time choice in what should be a contentious betting affair. With 3 wins in 6 career starts, Mo Tom has been a consistent closer, winning the Grade 3 LeComte January 16 from off the pace before settling for third in the Grade 2 Risen Star February 20 where a troubled trip compromised the son of Uncle Mo who was forced to check sharply at the three sixteenth pole. Mo Tom will be making the third start of his current form cycle and may be sitting a peak effort. The colt should also appreciate the extra ground, making his first start beyond a mile and a sixteenth. 

Gun Runner goes for Risen Star/Derby double

Gun Runner (3/1) was an impressive-looking winner of the Grade 2 Risen Star February 20 and has every right to keep improving. The Steve Asmussen trainee sat patiently behind the pace last out before seizing the rail and making the winning move under jockey Florent Geroux. Gun Runner and Geroux will have to negotiate breaking from the rail in the Louisiana Derby, but the versatile runner has already handled that challenge, winning a two-turn allowance race last fall at Keeneland from the same spot.  

Lone grade 1 winner fits nicely

Greenpointcrusader (7/2) won the Grade 1 Champagne last summer at Saratoga and chased Mohayman before finishing second in the Grade 2 Holy Bull in his lone 2016 start. There are no other grade 1 winners in the field and likely no one as good as Mohayman making the Dominic Schettino runner a logical win candidate.