The richest race of the Fair Grounds winter meeting and a major stop on the Triple Crown Trail is the $600,000 Louisiana Derby (G2), contested at 1 1/16 miles on the main track. Risen Star winner Pyro was the 4-5 favorite over 9-2 second choice J Be K, making his stakes debut, and 5-1 Tale of Ekati, making his first start since the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.
My Pal Charlie went to the rail to save ground and set the pace most of the way around, setting fractions of 24.10 and 48.07 while J Be K sat just a length behind in second. Blackberry Road and Pyro sat third and fourth respectively. At the 1/4 pole, J Be K moved up to challenge the pacesetter but My Pal Charlie stubbornly held onto the lead, getting 6 furlongs in 1:13.86. However, Pyro, who had to wait for an opening between horses at the top of the stretch, split the leaders at the 3/16 pole with a burst of speed, powering through to win going away by 3 lengths over My Pal Charlie in 1:44.44 over the fast main track. It was just 1/2 a length back to Yankee Bravo third.
Part 2 with the New Orleans Handicap, Mervyn Muniz Handicap, and Duncan F. Kenner Stakes