Todd Pletcher loves it when a plan comes together.
The Racing Hall of Fame trainer decided to ship the lightly raced Kingsbarns to the Fair Grounds for the Grade 2, $1 million Louisiana Derby, and Spendthrift Farm’s Uncle Mo colt caught a mostly paceless race and took advantage of those dymanics to win by 3 1/2 lengths and earn a trip to the Kentucky Derby.
“It appeared on paper that there was not a lot of pace,” Pletcher said. “So we drew up a plan with (jockey) Flavien Prat that if we came away in good order to be placed forwardly and hopefully dictate the race on our terms.”
And that’s exactly how it played out from the jump, as only Kingsbarns from post 6 and Jace’s Road from post 11 contested the lead through fractions of 24.71 and 49.60 seconds and 1:14.69. Kingsbarns was up a length after six furlongs, and that’s when Prat opened up on the field.
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“Once we got a good spot out of the gate I felt in complete control,” Prat said. “Down the backside I felt we slowed things down, so I opened up a bit before the turn and he was moving so comfortably I knew we’d be tough to catch.”
Kingsbarns completed the 9 1/2 furlongs in 1:57.33. Jace’s Road faded to third, 2 3/4 lengths behind Disarm, who was the only horse from midpack to do any running late.
The winner, the second choice in the wagering behind Instant Coffee, who finished sixth, returned $11 for a $2 win bet.
“I’m ecstatic with how my two ran,” trainer Steve Asmussen said of Disarm and Shopper’s Revenge, who stayed on for fourth after racing behind the leaders. “Disarm has every reason to move on from this race, and he can stay. With the 30 points he’s in the Kentucky Derby, and that’s absolutely our plan.”
That is the plan for Kingsbarns as well.
“It was a lot to ask to go to a graded stakes going 1 3/16 miles for the first time in his third career start,” Pletcher said. “We gave up a lot of seasoning, and he responded in a big way.
“We’ll get him back to Palm Beach Downs and assess, but we’re planning on him being one of our ones for the Kentucky Derby.”
Kingsbarns is now undefeated in three career starts by a combined 12 1/2 lengths. He has won his previous two races in gate-to-wire fashion, but Pletcher said his debut from off the pace was a needed education for a horse with not a lot of seasoning.
“One of the good things about that debut run is he got an education,” Pletcher said. “He sat in the pocket and had to deal with kickback on debut.”
Parks Investment Group bred Kingsbarns in Kentucky out of the Tapit mare Lady Tapit. Spendthrift went to $800,000 to acquire the colt at last year’s Fasig-Tipton Florida two-year-olds in training sale. He has now won all three starts and has earned $657,300.