Action on the Road to the Kentucky Derby will heat up over the coming months, as contenders look to pick up points that will earn them a spot in the field at Churchill Downs.

There will be interesting prep action being staged at Fair Grounds this weekend, as the G3 Lecomte Stakes will be run over 1 1/16 miles by horses aged three.


Race History & Records

The G3 Lecomte Stakes has been a key prep race on the road to the Triple Crown series since 1962 when it became a race for horses aged three. Prior to the changes in entry, the race was run as the LeCompte Handicap between 1943 and 1961.

There have been some standout runners in the Lecomte throughout history, including Risen Star, who was beaten in the Grade 3 before landing the Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes in 1988.

Oxbow became the most dominant winner of the race in 2013 when winning by over eleven lengths. He later landed the Preakness Stakes. War of Will was the most recent winner to land Triple Crown success after landing the Preakness in 2019.

Leading Contenders

Track Phantom

One of the most eye-catching runners in the field this weekend is Track Phantom. The three-year-old appears to be the leading Triple Crown contender in the Steven Asmussen yard this season, and his lofty reputation was increased in late December when storming to a dominant victory over course and distance in the Gun Runner Stakes.

That success scored a speed rating of 97, with re-appearing rival Nash finishing back in third. Asmussen has a good record in the Lecomte, most recently winning the race with the impressive Midnight Bourbon in 2021.

Ethan Energy

Brad Cox brings a strong team to Fair Grounds on Saturday, with Nash among the preferred selections in the betting. However, given that the runner has already been soundly beaten by Track Phantom, it could be worth assessing Ethan Energy.

The three-year-old has looked progressive so far, and took a massive step forward when running over 1 1/16 for the first time at Fair Grounds in December. He dominated the field to score a 92 speed rating, and further improvement certainly makes him a clear win contender in Louisiana on Saturday.

Can Group

One of the most interesting runners in the Kentucky Derby prep this weekend is Can Group for Mark Casse. The trainer won this race in back-to-back years in 2019 and 2020, and he sends a reverting runner from the turf to compete on the dirt this weekend. The three-year-old made his first two starts on the dirt, most recently finishing behind the talented Timberlake over five furlongs in July.

He made a home for himself on the turf when winning the G2 Bourbon over 1 1/16 miles, before traveling well in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf to take fourth at Santa Anita. If he could transfer that form back onto the dirt, then he could be a major player in this company on Saturday.

Lecomte Stakes Prediction

Track Phantom appears to be an incredibly progressive runner for the Asmussen team, and he will likely take all the beating this weekend. He has already got the better of a number of rivals, and there is more improvement to come. We could see Cox’s Ethan Energy chasing him home to take second.

Pick: Track Phantom (bet at BetDSI)