With both a $1 million purse and big points available toward getting a spot in the starting gate for the Kentucky Derby only one month later, the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby always attracts a strong field of horses. The Louisiana Derby is run at the distance of 1 1/8 miles on the dirt track at Fair Grounds Race Course, and is open to both male and female horses aged three. In 1996, Grindstone won the Louisiana Derby and followed that up with a photo-finish win by a nose in the Kentucky Derby. Last year's Louisiana Derby winner, Gun Runner, ran third in the Kentucky Derby and also won the Grade 1 Clark Handicap in late 2016. The Louisiana Derby was first run in 1894 as the Crescent City Derby and the name was later changed.
Louisiana Derby Picks
As one of the final key prep races for the Kentucky Derby, it's important for race fans to pay close attention to the Louisiana Derby, and you can make your Louisiana Derby picks on your PC or mobile device when you open an account with one of these online racebooks.
Louisiana Derby Entries
It's extremely rare for a horse with odds higher than 100-1 to win a race, let alone a graded-stakes race against some of the top runners in the country, but that's exactly what happened in the 2012 Louisiana Derby, when Hero of Order pulled off a shocker at odds of 109-1 to pay more than $220 for a $2 Win bet. It was only the second win of Hero of Order's 13-race career to that point, and he would not win again in 10 more starts before being retired from racing in 2013.
Since then, things have been more predictable in the Louisiana Derby, with the first, second or third choice in the betting pool winning the last four years, including favorites Revolutionary (2012) and International Star (2015). International Star was a particularly popular choice at Fair Grounds as he is also a Louisiana-bred horse. After sweeping all three of the Kentucky Derby preps at Fair Grounds, he was considered a favorite for the Kentucky Derby but was scratched the morning of the race due to a hairline fracture in his leg.
Louisiana Derby Racing Tips
As mentioned above, favorites have recently done well in the Louisiana Derby (even when Hero of Order won, the favorite, Mark Veleski, was second, just a half-length behind) and have to be considered on betting tickets. Those horses have won in different ways, however, as Revolutionary and International Star both came from far off the pace to rally in the stretch drive, while Gun Runner was never more than two lengths off the lead, and Vicar's In Trouble led from wire to wire.
Even if you throw out the big payoff caused by Hero of Order's win, the other previous four Louisiana Derbys have produced $2 exacta payouts that average more than $120, so when you've settled on the top choice(s), be sure to put a couple longshots on the bottom of exotic bets like exactas and trifectas.
Of the other prominent winners of the Louisiana Derby, Grindstone won in 1998 and then went on to win the Kentucky Derby, while Risen Star (for whom the Fair Grounds' Risen Star Stakes is named) won both the Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes in 1988 after finishing third in the Kentuckly Derby to Winning Colors, the last filly to win the first leg of the Triple Crown. In that year, both Risen Star were voted US Champion three-year-old colt and filly, respectively.