One of the big Kentucky Derby prep races of the year takes place at Fair Grounds this weekend, as the Louisiana Derby is staged. A total of 100 qualifying points are up for grabs, with nine declared. 

Meanwhile, the further graded action is on the card, with the G2 Fair Grounds Oaks also taking place. Excitement levels will be high at the track this weekend, as we will see the return of superstar filly Echo Zulu, as she looks to confirm her place in the Kentucky Oaks. Find the latest picks to make on leading horse racing betting sites here.

Louisiana Derby- Grade 2

The big race of the weekend is worth 100 qualifying points for the Kentucky Derby. A field of nine have declared for the Louisiana Derby this year, where two previous winners have won on their way to claiming the spoils in the opening Triple Crown race of the season. 

It is hard to look past the favourite in the race this year, as the form of Epicenter is incredibly strong. He has won four from six starts, with one of his defeats coming in his maiden at Churchill Downs. His year started with a second in the G3 Lecomte behind Call Me Midnight, but he kicked on from that with an excellent showing when beating Smile Happy in the G2 Risen Star.

In my opinion, his biggest danger could come from the stall just the other side, as Pioneer of Medina is a horse I’ve been keeping a keen eye on throughout the season. He has already won around this distance, and won at Fair Grounds in late January. He travelled well in the G2 Risen Star, before finishing fourth, and he would be the selection I’d be using underneath.

Pick: Epicenter

Fair Grounds Oaks- Grade 2

The big race for the fillies this weekend is the Fair Grounds Oaks. This offers a purse of $400,000 and is run over a distance of 1 1/16. Once again, the favourite looks incredibly strong, and excitement levels are high ahead of her seasonal reappearance.

Echo Zulu for Steven Asmussen is the class of the field, and comes into this race having won her previous four. The unbeaten filly could be a potential superstar, and has got race fans excited for the season ahead. She was last seen winning the G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies when reaching a speed figure of 99, which was her third straight Grade 1 success following victories in the Frizette and Spinaway.

The biggest danger looks to be Hidden Connection. However, she was fairly unimpressive last time we saw her when she was finishing fourth in the G2 Rachel Alexandra Stakes at Fair Grounds. It’s unlikely that she will come close to winning, but she could be a distant second to complete the exacta.

Pick: Echo Zulu

Other Fair Grounds Picks

G2 Muniz Memorial Classic StakesCavalry Charge
G2 New Orleans Classic StakesOlympiad