Using history to hurt the 2022 Louisiana Derby

Get prepared! The road to the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve heats up in a big way with Saturday’s celebration of the $1 million Louisiana Derby at the Fair Grounds. The 1 3/16-mile Grade 2 race awards 170 Kentucky Derby qualifying points to the top four finishers on a 100-40-20-10 basis, essentially guaranteeing both the winner and runner-up a spot in Kentucky 2022. Exit door of the derby.

The Louisiana Derby can be a difficult race to analyze, but luckily history can help us with our handicap. Studying historical graded betting results can reveal trends and common trends among past winners, which in turn gives us clues to identify future winners.

With this in mind, we looked into the last decade of the Louisiana Derby and uncovered five historical trends to help our handicap:

Tactical speed is an asset

Speed ​​is worth showing in the Louisiana Derby. Eight of the last 10 winners were in the top four after the first half-mile, including three winners (Hot Rod Charlie, Wells Bayou and Vicar’s in Trouble) who were in the lead at that point in the race.

By contrast, in the last decade only two Louisiana Derby winners (International Star and Revolutionary) recovered from the back half of the field after the initial half-mile. Unsurprisingly, one of those wins came in 2013, which featured the fastest half-mile pace split of the past decade.



Position after the first 1/2 mile

1/2 mile and

3/4 mile times


charlie race car

1St. per 0.5 lengths (8 starters)

47.04, 1:11.25 (fast)


swamp of wells

1St. per 1.5 lengths (14 starters)

48.00, 1:12.42 (fast)


by my standards

4the for 3.5 lengths (11 starters)

47.68, 1:11.54 (fast)


noble indy

twoNorth Dakota for 1 long (10 starters)

46.61, 1:11.47 (fast)



4the for 6.5 lengths (9 starters)

47.00, 1:11.15 (fast)



3dr for 2 lengths (10 starters)

48.24, 1:12.94 (fast)


international star

7the for 7 lengths (9 starters)

48.59, 1:13.27 (fast)


vicar in trouble

1St. per 0.5 lengths (10 starters)

47.86, 1:12.14 (fast)



12the for 12.25 lengths (14 starters)

46.34, 1:11.84 (fast)


order hero

twoNorth Dakota per 1.5 lengths (13 starters)

47.27, 1:11.55 (fast)

Mix favorites and unlikely shots

Generally speaking, the Louisiana Derby tends to be a predictable race. Five of the last ten winners started as betting favourites, while three other winners started less than 4-1. You’ll definitely want to include the favorite in the superperfect, because the best betting option has finished on the board in eight of the last 10 years.

But from time to time strange things happen in the Louisiana Derby. Hero of Order famously pulled off an upset of 109.40-1 in 2012. By my standards he landed in the 2019 winner’s circle at 22.50-1. Tom’s Ready finished second at 30.50-1 in 2016, Mylute took second at 19-1 in 2013 and Ny Traffic battled for second at 26.70-1 in 2020.

Our advice? Mix up the favorites with the unlikely shots you like at great prices. You may just spot an overlooked winner or runner-up, triggering lucrative payouts.

Bet proven graded betting horses

The Louisiana Derby does not play well with newcomers with no betting experience. Five of the last 10 Louisiana Derby winners (Girvin, Gun Runner, International Star, Vicar’s in Trouble and Revolutionary) had previously won graded bets, while four others (Hot Rod Charlie, Wells Bayou, Noble Indy and Hero of Order) had placed in the top four in a graded stakes game.

During the same time period, only one horse with no grading experience, the first winner by my standards, managed to claim top honors in the Louisiana Derby. It’s always tempting to think outside the box and root for the untested types of maidens and assignments with the potential to become stars, but recent history suggests doing so in the Louisiana Derby isn’t a winning strategy.

Watch out for Todd Pletcher

Trainer Todd Pletcher doesn’t usually start horses at Fair Grounds, but he’s certainly had success in the Louisiana Derby. Pletcher has won the race four times since 2007, and has also saddled a quartet of second-place finishers along the way. They haven’t all been short prices either; Mission Impazible won 7.10-1 in 2010, and Stanford finished second by a neck at 7-1 in 2015.

Local brokers tend to prevail

Generally speaking, horses with Fair Grounds experience have an advantage in the Louisiana Derby. Six of the last 10 winners previously contested the Grade 2 Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds, including three horses (Girvin, Gun Runner and International Star) who won both races. Another Louisiana Derby winner, By My Standards, scored his first win at Fair Grounds.

On the other hand, the last two Louisiana Derby winners (Hot Rod Charlie and Wells Bayou) have won the Louisiana Derby while competing at Fair Grounds for the first time, a feat also accomplished by Revolutionary (2013). All three had previously won or qualified in graded betting competitions, so they came into the Louisiana Derby with lofty credentials.


Nine horses have been entered in the 2022 Louisiana Derby, and while none are a perfect match for the historical profile we’ve outlined, a couple come close.

The expected favorite is #6 Epicenter, and his credentials are impressive. The Steve Asmussen trainee led from start to finish in the Grade 2 Risen Star Stakes Presented by Lamarque Ford at Fair Grounds last month, beating a tough field by 2 3/4 lengths. A low-priced Risen Star winner with tactical speed is bound to be tough in the Louisiana Derby, marking Epicenter as the horse to beat.

#3 Call me midnight and #9 Rattle N Roll are other logical threats. Call Me Midnight took advantage of a favorable pace setup to rally and beat Epicenter by a head in the Grade 3 Lecomte Stakes at Fair Grounds in January. Meanwhile, Rattle N Roll won the Grade 1 Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland last fall and is eligible to improve in his second race of the season. But both Call Me Midnight and Rattle N Roll are deep closers, and that hasn’t been the most successful strategy in the Louisiana Derby.

An unlikely shot worth considering is #7 Medina Pioneer. It’s true that he couldn’t keep up with Epicenter when he finished fourth in Risen Star. But Pioneer of Medina has tactical speed and is trained by Pletcher, so history suggests it’s not wise to write Pioneer of Medina off. If he steps up in his second start against graded-stakes competition, Pioneer of Medina can break into the top four at a solid price.

Good luck with your handicap and enjoy the Louisiana Derby!