The popular question this time of year will be…”Is it too early to think about Kentucky Derby/Oaks 150?”…the answer is “I think not”
With that in mind, let’s examine two races at The Fair Grounds in New Orleans on January 20. Because ladies are always first, we will take a look at the ultra-impressive Silverbulletday Stakes winner.
Brad Cox is a guy that knows how to win the Kentucky Oaks. Having trained Monomoy Girl (2018) and Shedaresthedevil (2020) to Oaks glory in recent times, it looks as if the Louisville native may have another prime time contender. West Omaha put on a show in the one mile and seventy yard Silverbulletday Stakes. Breaking alertly and settling just off a moderate early pace (24.63 opening quarter mile, 48.84 half mile), this daughter of West Coast made things look awfully easy down the lane. Swinging three wide as they turned for home this granddaughter of Medaglia d”Oro assumed command at the quarter pole. Under a slight urging from jockey Luis Saez, West Omaha won by a widening five lengths. Covering the distance in 1:43.48, this Brad Cox trainee now has two wins and two seconds in four lifetime starts.
The Lecomte Stakes has long been a race that helps separate pretenders from contenders on the Kentucky Derby trail. Since 1962, talented three-year olds have targeted this race with hopes of launching towards the first Saturday in May. The 2024 edition certainly established one particular colt as a prime-time contender.
Steve Asmussen has won more races than any trainer in North American history. There is one race, however, he has yet to capture. The Kentucky Derby is not on his resume, but the Lecomte told us he has a major player in 2024. Track Phantom broke extremely well and immediately assumed the lead as the runners rolled into the first turn. Allowed to cruise on an easy lead through a 24.01 opening quarter and 48.36 half mile, this son of Quality Road glided into the stretch completely in command. Under the guiding hand of jockey Joel Rosario, Track Phantom, seemed to get stronger as he loped down the lane. With the favored Nash attempting to close, this grandson of Into Mischief extended his lead and scored the “W” by a widening 2 ¾ lengths. The victory was Track Phantom’s third consecutive win and means he has finished in the money (1 second, 1 third) in all five lifetime starts.