2023 Lecomte Stakes Betting Odds and Contenders Preview
The 2023 Lecomte Stakes will be run Saturday, January 21, at Fair Grounds in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Grade 3, 1 1/16-mile race offers a purse of $200,000, and it is the second of four points races on the Louisiana spur of the Kentucky Derby trail. That series began with the Gun Runner Stakes, and continues with the Risen Star (G2) and Louisiana Derby (G2).
The Lecomte Stakes is open to both male and female horses aged three, though this year’s field of eight consists entirely of colts. The field includes Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) winner Instant Coffee, Street Sense (G3) winner Two Phil’s, and several exciting prospects who are trying to notch their first stakes victories in the Lecomte. At stake are not only the purse, but also 20-8-6-4-2 Road to the Kentucky Derby points for its top finishers.
Two recent winners of the Lecomte Stakes have gone on to win the Preakness: War of Will (2019) and Oxbow (2013). Other important recent winners of the race include Midnight Bourbon (2021), Ron the Greek (2010), Friesan Fire (2009), and Hard Spun (2007)
Lecomte Stakes 2023 Information
Race Date: Saturday, January 21, 2023
Track: Fair Grounds Race Course
Post Time: 6:30 p.m. Central Standard Time
Distance: 1 1/16 miles
Where to Watch: FanDuel TV
Where to Bet: TVG.com and FanDuel Racing
Lecomte Stakes Odds
This is the official field for the 2023 Lecomte Stakes. It drew a field of eight, including two graded stakes winners and six others who will try to prove themselves at this level. Like many early Kentucky Derby preps, it should be an interesting and value-laden betting race. This is the field for the race, including post positions, trainers, and jockeys.
|Brian Hernandez, Jr.
Lecomte Stakes Prep Results
The horses in the Lecomte ran their final preps at four different tracks, none of which were Fair Grounds. Four of the eight came from last-out races at Churchill Downs. Both graded winners in the field achieved that feat last out at Churchill: Instant Coffee won the Kentucky Jockey Club on November 22, and Two Phil’s won the Street Sense on October 30. Confidence Game wired a first-level allowance in Louisville on November 26, while Tapit’s Conquest won a maiden special weight there October 1.
Two others, both trained by Paulo Lobo, last raced at Turfway. Itzos broke his maiden second-out on the Turfway Tapeta on December 29, while Bromley won a first-level allowance on December 28, just over a month after a main-track maiden win at Churchill. Denington was most recently third in the Smarty Jones at Oaklawn on January 1, while Echo Again last ran third in the Springboard Mile at Remington Park.
Note that none of the runners in the Lecomte come out of the Gun Runner, which was run on December 26 and is the first of the points races hosted at Fair Grounds.
Lecomte Stakes Contenders
These are the contenders in the 2023 Lecomte Stakes, organized by post position.
Echo Again: Echo Again looked like a possible world-beater after a debut win at Saratoga, but has been well beaten in both of his tries over two-turn trips. His pedigree suggests he could move forward with some distance and time, and his trainer Steve Asmussen is having a red-hot beginning to the meet. He is also shaping up to be a need-the-lead type: and if Itzos isn’t fast enough early, Echo Again could try to steal the race.
Denington: With six starts, he is the most experienced horse in the field. It took him four starts to break his maiden, which he finally did over a sloppy two-turn trip at Churchill Downs. In two stakes-level starts since, he hasn’t run poorly, but his late runs have not been enough for top honors: he was 1 ½ lengths adrift of Instant Coffee in the Kentucky Jockey Club, then a well-beaten third in the Smarty Jones. His best hope is that there will be a fight up front, or the newly-added blinkers will give him the speed he has not shown since his second career start.
Bromley: With just two starts, neither of which came at two turns nor in stakes company, Bromley cedes experience. But, he has not laid a hoof wrong. He showed versatility, winning a maiden race from a stalking spot and his allowance from midfield. He has some pedigree appeal for the stretch-out, and even though he last ran at Turfway his debut win came on conventional dirt. Demand a price, but he has tools and talent.
Confidence Game: He is trained by Keith Desormeaux, who set the tote on fire when his Call Me Midnight won the Lecomte last year. His five starts make him one of the more experienced horses here, and he comes into the Lecomte off of a frontrunning allowance win at Churchill Downs. However, he will need to find significantly more early speed than he has mustered up so far to go with the likes of Itzos or Echo Again early. The good news is that if he finds it, he can fight at a contested pace. But, it will not be easy.
Tapit’s Conquest: This son of Tapit has yet to face winners: he debuted with a narrow miss in a live maiden sprint at Saratoga, then stepped up to score in a 1 and 1/16-mile race at Churchill Downs. However, the Brad Cox trainee has not run since. And, the worktab suggests some issues: he worked twice after the maiden win, then was off the worktab for almost two months. He does have five works since returning, including a bullet five furlongs at Fair Grounds, so perhaps he is ready. But, he may be overbet, given the connections.
Itzos: The second runner in the field for Paulo Lobo, this $1.4 million Bolt d’Oro half to the great Rachel Alexandra has something to prove. Though he has no shortage of dirt breeding, he has yet to prove his own liking for the dirt: he was a well-beaten ninth in his dirt debut sprinting at Churchill before shedding his maiden label in a Tapeta sprint at Turfway. His tactical speed may serve him well, but he needs to do a lot better on the stretch out to two turns, and may be overbet given his breeding and his auction cost.
Instant Coffee: Another from the Brad Cox barn, he comes in as the class of the field after a strong win over the proven Curly Jack in the Kentucky Jockey Club. A winner at two different tracks at sprint and stretched-out trips, this son of Bolt d’Oro out of an Uncle Mo mare has also shown he can fire fresh, meaning the freshening since his win in November should be no problem. His biggest difficulty may be pace, as he is a come-from-behind type, and the pace here may be sluggish. However, it wasn’t fast in the Kentucky Jockey Club either, and he got up.
Two Phil’s: The only three-time winner in the field, Two Phil’s is the atypical Larry Rivelli horse who is not a confirmed frontrunner. He most recently won the Street Sense from midfield over a sloppy track. However, he won a pair of sprint races in the summer over fast tracks, doing so from closer up to the pace. That could help him get a good, clean stalking trip from the outside—and the possibility of rain makes his chances even better.
Lecomte Stakes Past Winners Past Performances
Horses coming out of the Kentucky Jockey Club are strong in the recent history of the Lecomte Stakes. Four of the last ten winners last raced in the Kentucky Jockey Club: International Star (2015) was fourth, Mo Tom (2016) third, Enforceable (2020) fourth, and Call Me Midnight (2022) finished seventh. Note that none of them won, and three of them did not hit the board, so there is a precedent for also-rans from that classy Churchill race to move forward.
Though no one from this year’s Lecomte is shipping out from the west coast, one has often been able to find Lecomte winners coming in from California. Oxbow (2013) won the Lecomte off of a fourth-place finish in the Cashcall Futurity (G1) at Hollywood, and Instilled Regard won off of a second in its successor race, the Los Alamitos Futurity. The only other stakes race to produce a next-out Lecomte winner in the last ten years was the Champagne, in which Midnight Bourbon (2021) had finished third in his previous start.
The other three Lecomte winners over the last ten years came from non-stakes races. Both Vicar’s In Trouble (2014) and War of Will (2019) came out of maiden special weight wins. Note that Vicar’s In Trouble is the only winner in the last ten years to have last raced at Fair Grounds, and War of Will was already Grade 1-placed on grass before his score in the Lecomte. Guest Suite is the only last-out allowance winner in the last ten years to win the Lecomte; he had won a first-level allowance at Churchill Downs in November.
Lecomte Stakes Undercard
The Lecomte Stakes is the 14th race on Saturday’s mammoth card at Fair Grounds, which also offers five other stakes races. The $150,000 Silverbulletday may be the most eagerly awaited, as it is a 20-8-7-4-2 points race on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks, part of the perennially live Fair Grounds spur.
The card also features the $150,000 Louisiana (G3) for older horses routing on the dirt, the $100,000 Duncan F. Kenner for older turf sprinters, the $100,000 Colonel E. R. Bradley for older turf route horses, and the $100,000 Marie G. Krantz Memorial for older turf fillies and mares. With classy horses in all these divisions all day long, the card is one of the most exciting betting opportunities of the winter racing season. Tune into FanDuel TV and TVG to get the latest information about the horses leading into the races, and the latest betting odds all day long!
Fair Grounds History
The first races at what was then the Louisiana Race Course were organized by Bernard de Marigny and others in 1839 and 1839. It was reopened as Union Race Course in 1852 but closed after five years because the nearby Metairie Course proved more popular at the time. It was renamed yet again in 1859 as the Creole Race Course, then was first given the name Fair Grounds in 1963. It continued to host racing during the Civil War.
That was not the end of the closing and opening of the course, though. It closed again after the Civil War when Metairie reopened. Still, some members of the Metairie Jockey Club broke away, re-formed the Louisiana Jockey Club, and restarted racing at Fair Grounds in 1872.
Racing was banned in New Orleans in 1908, though it returned in 1915. Though the track was in jeopardy after being sold to developers in 1940, racing-minded investors saved the track from certain destruction in 1941 and ensured horse racing would continue after World War II.
A stable period followed, and in 1981, the turf course was laid, and then the facility sold on in 1990. Following a devastating fire, a new grandstand had to be built in 1994 at a cost of $27 million, a grand reopening taking place on Thanksgiving Day 1997.
Although further damaged by Hurricane Katrina, another Thanksgiving Day reopening occurred in 2006, and since then, the track has run on an even keel and remains popular with traditional racegoers.
Lecomte Stakes FAQ
Q: When is the Lecomte Stakes?
A: The 2023 Lecomte Stakes will be run Saturday, January 21, at 6:30 p.m. Central Standard Time. The race is the 14th and final on the Saturday card at Fair Grounds.
Q: Where is the Lecomte Stakes?
A: It takes place at Fair Grounds in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Q: Which trainer has the most wins in the Lecomte Stakes?
A: John B. Theall has the most Lecomte wins of any trainer, with five. All of those wins came in the early days before the Lecomte was restricted to three-year-olds, and three of those five wins came with the Louisiana superstar Tenacious. Among trainers in this year’s edition, Steve Asmussen leads with three: Easyfromthegitgo (2002), Z Fortune (2008), and Midnight Bourbon (2021).
Q: Who is the favorite for the 2023 Lecomte Stakes?
A: The likely favorite for the 2023 Lecomte Stakes is Instant Coffee, who comes into the race off of a smart victory in the Kentucky Jockey Club. Though his trainer Brad Cox has yet to win the Lecomte, Cox has gotten a hot start at Fair Grounds and won many other major races.
Q: Who is the best Lecomte Stakes jockey?
A: Jockey Robby Albarado leads all jockeys with five victories in the race, most recently with Guest Suite in 2017. Among jockeys in this year’s edition, James Graham leads with two: Ron the Greek (2010) and Call Me Midnight (2022).
Q: Who won the 2022 Lecomte Stakes?
A: Call Me Midnight won the 2022 Lecomte Stakes for trainer Keith Desormeaux and jockey James Graham. Desormeaux and Graham join forces again in the 2023 edition with Confidence Game.