War of Will should overwhelm Louisiana Derby field

The Grade I, $1 million Louisiana Derby takes place this Saturday at the historic Fair Grounds racecourse in New Orleans. The 1 1/8-mile race awards 100 Kentucky Derby points to the winner, assuring them a starting spot in the “Run for the Roses.” Second place receives 40 points, third gets 20, and fourth gets 10. Post time for the 11-horse Louisiana Derby, the finale on a 13-race program, is 6:13 p.m. EST.

#6 WAR OF WILL (6-5, morning-line favorite) will have the attention of the majority of analysts and bettors in the Louisiana Derby, and deservedly so. He’s been simply dominant since stepping onto the dirt three starts back, graduating from the maiden ranks at Churchill before crushing the competition in the LeComte and Risen Star Stakes over this course. Five horses in the Louisiana Derby field have lost to WAR OF WILL at least once on the road to the Kentucky Derby, including second-choice #8 COUNTRY HOUSE (9-2) in last month’s Risen Star. He’ll have a target to run at in #2 LEMNISCATE (and possibly #10 SPINOFF), so WAR OF WILL should get another ideal stalking trip. Tyler Gaffalione rides the obvious horse to beat.

#4 SUENO (8-1) is an off-the-pace threat under Corey Lanerie. He was last seen closing for second in the Southwest Stakes, which wasn’t rated all that fast but looks stronger now after third-place finisher Long Range Toddy won the Rebel last week. Prior to that effort, SUENO was second in Santa Anita’s Sham Stakes. He should benefit from the stretchout to 1 1/8-miles, and if the pace falls apart, he’s the most likely runner to take advantage.

SPINOFF (8-1) annihilated four others in a maiden race at Tampa last month, winning by 11 lengths. It was especially impressive considering it was his first route start and first outing since last August. John Velazquez made the trip to ride SPINOFF that day, and he travels for the call on the Todd Pletcher trainee once more. The workouts suggest SPINOFF may take another step forward in his fourth career start.

COUNTRY HOUSE recovered from a slow start in the Risen Star to gain second under Luis Saez last time out. However, he lugged badly in the lane, suggesting he has distance limitations. Saez, who maintains the assignment, can’t afford to make mistakes if he wants to get COUNTRY HOUSE into the winner’s circle.

The play: $4 exacta 6/4,8,10, $3 win 4 ($15)

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