Patch joins familiar faces in Louisiana Derby

Fair Grounds Racecourse in New Orleans, LA hosts the Grade I, $1 million Louisiana Derby this Saturday. The marquee 1 1/8th-mile event drew a field of nine in pursuit of valuable Kentucky Derby points. 100 points go to the winner (essentially an automatic berth into “The Run for the Roses”), 40 to the runner-up, 20 to third and 10 to fourth. Risen Star winner GIRVIN returns along with LeComte winner GUEST SUITE (fourth in the Risen Star) and new shooter PATCH. The Louisiana Derby in the 11th race on a stacked 15-race card; post time is slated for 6:21 p.m. EST. As always, feel free to take part in FanXT’s Daily Fantasy Jockey game!

#1 PATCH (9-2) represents the Todd Pletcher barn off a big maiden victory going a mile at Gulfstream. Tyler Gaffalione rides PATCH for the first time, as John Velazquez is committed to Gulfstream on Florida Derby day. PATCH is classically-bred with major distance influence on both sides of his pedigree (Union Rags and A.P. Indy), so the furlong stretchout should be exactly what he wants. He’s also training extremely well for this. Look for him to save ground from the inside post before making a late move.

#8 GIRVIN (8-5, morning-line favorite) burst onto the scene last time out by winning the Risen Star in romping fashion. He’ll pick up six pounds off that score but maintains Brian Hernandez Jr. and is working well in the mornings. His speed figures put him squarely in the hunt, though he won’t offer much value.

#6 GUEST SUITE (4-1) missed the board for the first time in the Risen Star, his sixth start to date. Robby Albarado called for his run much later than he did when winning the LeComte and ran into some trouble on the far turn. He may not have much more to offer this time around though, and he’ll need to improve his speed figures some to have a shot at the victory.

#3 LOCAL HERO (7-2) was loose up front under meet leader Florent Geroux in the Risen Star before tiring to third. He may not appreciate the added ground Steve Asmussen offers today but is a candidate for minor spoils.

The play: $4 exacta 1/8, $2 exacta box 1/8, $2 exacta 1/3,6 ($12)

DFJ analysis: Florent Geroux is a must-have this Saturday with 12 mounts, 11 of which carry single-digit morning-lines. His graded stakes mounts are strong; Noble Bird in the New Orleans, Oscar Nominated in the Muniz, Corporate Queen in the Fair Grounds Oaks and LOCAL HERO in the Louisiana Derby.

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