Pants On Fire upsets Mucho Macho Man in the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby. He grabs a $600,000 share of the $1,000,000 purse which pretty much guarantees him a spot in the Kentucky Derby.
Pants On Fire's win in the $1,000,000 Grade 2 Louisiana Derby was a pleasant surprise for his owners, George and Lori Hall, and trainer, Kelly Breen. He was entered to set the quick pace and give his stablemate, Nacho Business, someone to catch. However, longshot Liondrive set the early pace with Pants On Fire sitting just off of him. At the top of the stretch, Pants On Fire had plenty of run and jockey Rosie Napravnik made her move as Mucho Macho Man and jockey Rajiv Maragh joined them. Zayat Stables' 36-1 longshot, Nehro, was closing strong behind them. Pants On Fire was able to hold on by a neck over Nehro, with the favorite, Mucho Macho Man, another half length behind them. Further back was a fast closing Elite Alex and Machen. Finishing out the field were Wilkinson, Left, Nacho Business, Majestic Harbor, Le Mans, Mavericking, and Liondrive. Populist Politics was scratched.
Key points to take away from this race:
1) Pants On Fire's win moves him way up the list of graded stakes earners and punches his ticket for the Kentucky Derby. He ran a fantastic race Saturday and showed the world outside of New Orleans what a phenomenal jockey Rosie Napravnik has become. Will he win the Kentucky Derby? Only time will tell, but know this: the Louisiana Derby has only produced two Kentucky Derby winners in its history--Black Gold in 1924 and Grindstone in 1996;
2) Mucho Macho Man had to overcome the loss of a shoe to finish in third place only a half length behind the winner. Running without a shoe would be like running on his fingernails--ouch! He likely will be no worse for wear because of it, but I would imagine it would have thrown him off his game. I still think he's a great horse with a good chance in the Kentucky Derby;
3) Elite Alex was still last in the field of twelve when they reached the 3/4 pole. He closed strongly, but was only able to get up for fourth. He's still rather far down on the graded earnings list, so he probably won't get into the Derby, but he could be a fresh horse to watch out for in the Preakness Stakes; and
4) Nehro finishing a close second was a surprise. He's won only one race in his life and it was a $38,000 maiden special weight. For him to jump up to just miss the win in a $1,000,000 graded stakes race is a huge accomplishment. He's owned by Zayat Stables, who's had several Kentucky Derby runners, including 2009 second-place finisher Pioneerof the Nile, so they obviously knew this horse had potential.
Up next is the Grade 1 Florida Derby with an anticipated field that includes Uncle Mo, Stay Thirsty, and Soldat. We'll preview the race on Friday.
Photo: Courtesy Kentucky Derby