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Posted by Brian Mulligan on 1/24/2011 12:36:08 PM

There were a several stakes races at Fair Grounds Saturday and they deserve a retrospective look considering that some 3-year-olds started their trek on the early Triple Crown Trail.

Sophomores got a chance to strut their stuff in the Grade 3 Lecomte at a mile and 40 yards and the first clue that Wilkinson was live was the fact that Garrett Gomez flew in for the mount.

Trained by Neil Howard, who is on a flat-out roll of late, Wilkinson got a perfect tracking trip and the colt had a legit excuse of the slop in his previous race.

The final time of 1:40.97 was decent and if you think that this race is unimportant know that Hard Spun won this event in 2007 and all that runner did was go on to run second in the Kentucky Derby, 3rd in the Preakness, 4th in the Belmont Stakes before taking the Grade 1 Kings Bishop and again running 2nd in Curlin’s Breeders’ Cup Classic.

The future is bright for this son of Lemon Drop Kid, who could run all day long. His dam banked over $160,000 in 13 races but more importantly is kin to Grade 2 winner and near $400,000 earner Miss Pickums.

The favorite Justin Phillip was rank and never looked himself but the way the winner came away late bodes well for the weeks and months ahead.

I was lucky enough to tab the winner of the Grade 3 Colonel E. R. Bradley in print but could not correctly nail the exotic.

The winner Gran Estreno was inching away at the end of the mile and a sixteenth turf race and paid $8.20 as the second choice.

Ridden by talented rider Anna Napravnik, the senior citizen sat about 2 lengths off the pace and closed in time.

His trainer, Mike Stidham, continues to be impressed. In the Fair Grounds notes, this is what he said: Stidham: “He’s really adaptable. I told Rosie to let him sit where he’s comfortable. She’s got a tremendous amount of ability and she can judge those things. He continues to amaze me like he’s almost changed his style as an 8-year-old.

A word should go out to Louisiana Handicap winner Recapturetheglory, who did just that for trainer and part oarner Louis Roussel III.

Roussel knows what to do with a good horse as he proved way back in 1988. That year he also trained and owned Risen Star and he watched that steed win the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes.

As a handicapping lesson, one came to fore in Recapturetheglory’s score. He was making his third start off a layoff and that was the same situation he had when he beat allowance runners last summer.

It’s never too early to start to get a leg up on the hot sophomores that could have something to say about this year’s Kentucky Derby so put the Lecomte winner in the back of your mind if you are thinking of any future book wagers.

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