The $600,000 Louisiana Derby (G2) at the Fair Grounds saw eight Triple Crown hopefuls go 1 1/16 miles on the main track before an on-track crowd of 6,321. Circular Quay was the 8-5 favorite coming off a troubled trip in the Risen Star last time out, with California invader Liquidity the 3-1 second choice and Ketchikan the 7-2 third choice.
Circular Quay raced in sixth off the very fast pace of Ketchikan early on, through fractions of 23.61, 46.53, and 1:10.88. Through the stretch, the favorite came out wide and rallied well to collar the tiring pacesetter at the 1/16 pole. Circular Quay drew away late to win by 2 1/4 lengths over Ketchikan in a time of 1:43.01 over a fast track. 8-1 Zanjero raced at the rear of the field early and got up to finish third.
Winning jockey John Velazquez said, "He really ran well. The last time, when he got going, everything happened in front of him. You can't get stopped at the 1/4 pole and start running again. But today, he did it without any trouble. Finally, we got a good trip and we got it done. That's all I can say. We got a good trip and we got it done."
Winning trainer Todd Pletcher added, "He didn't redeem himself as much as the fact that he got a good trip today. He was probably the best horse last time (in the Risen Star); thank goodness he came out of it in one piece. Today, this was his natural running style, to run in the back of the pack and come with a late run. Early speed helps. We'll see what's next, possibly the Wood Memorial. I think he's shown from Day 1 that he's among the best of his generation. He's never disappointed us."
Jockey Larry Melancon aboard runner-up Ketchikan said, "We had no plan to the first turn. I just wanted to get him to relax, but he was pulling me to the lead, so I let him go. It took one of the best 3-year-olds in the country to run us down." Trainer Al Stall Jr. added "He ran off down the backstretch (half in 46.53). He must have gotten a little cranked up. I'm a little disappointed. He's been beautiful. The talent's there, we've just got to re-direct it."
Jockey Garrett Gomez aboard Zanjero said, "He did some positive things today. He just wasn't good enough to beat the winner. But I think he'll bring his game in some future races."