LOUISIANA DERBY | PURSE: $1,00,000 | 3-YEAR-OLD | GRADE 2 | 1 1/8-MILES
Vicar's In Trouble broke his maiden by 13 lengths at Fair Grounds in December and recorded a 6 3/4-length decision in the Lecomte one month later, but couldn't make it three in a row in the Risen Star last out on February 22 when finishing behind Intense Holiday and Albano as the near 5-2 favorite.
On Saturday, Intense Holiday headed to the gate the public's choice in the Grade 2, $1 million Louisiana Derby only to find himself trailing in second as Vicar's In Trouble led every step of the way to a 3 1/2-length win under regular rider Rosie Napravnik. The Into Mischief colt provided owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey with a guaranteed second starter in the Kentucky Derby starting gate thanks to the 100 points he earned for the victory as part of the Road to the Kentucky Derby series.
Vicar's In Trouble will join We Miss Artie, who captured last Saturday's Spiral at Turfway Park, on the first Saturday in May. The Ramseys could end up having a trio compete in their familiar red and white colors if Bobby's Kitten earns enough points from his expected run in the Grade 1, $750,000 Blue Grass at Keeneland on April 12.
Vicar's In Trouble ran 1 1/8 miles over Fair Grounds fast track in 1:50 3/5 Saturday, one day after a deluge of rain forced cancellation of the entire Friday card. The Mike Maker pupil established fractions of :23 2/5, :47 4/5 and 1:12 while closely tracked by first Louies Flower to his inside and then Rise Up on the outside. Intense Holiday put in his move entering the stretch, but Napravnik kept Vicar's In Trouble focused on the wire, and the winning duo returned $8.60 as the 3-1 third choice.
"You know he is a tiny horse but he's got a great big heart," Napravnik stated.
Intense Holiday, the 9-5 favorite off his nose victory in the Risen Star over Albano, finished 1 1/2 lengths clear of Commanding Curve while Gotham third In Trouble and Albano came next.
"The inside horse jumped out, right on me," asserted Mike Smith, who rode Intense Holiday. "But the race was over at that point. (Rosie Napravnik) rode a great race. A brilliant race actually. It turned it into a two-furlong sprint not a three-eighths' type race where we can run out."
"He's progressing every time. I got eliminated at the start, but he ran on so easily. There's more there," stated Commanding Curve's rider, Robby Albarado.
A steward's inquiry into the stretch run saw the finish order changed when In Trouble was disqualified from fourth and placed fifth for interfering with Albano. That elevated the Risen Star runner-up to fourth.
"He broke OK, in a bit, and I straightened him up. We were in a great spot," explained Kerwin Clark, who had piloting duties aboard Albano. "I had Rosie's horse clocked, and I had the 9 clocked (In Trouble), but when Gerard (Melancon)'s horse (Rise Up) came up on the outside and then dropped over, In Trouble wheeled out and he hit my horse so hard, it knocked the air out of him. He just couldn't recover from that."
"After Rise Up moved up to the outside, I thought I had the room to get outside of him. It happened quickly, but he relaxed well and tried very hard," stated In Trouble's jockey, Joe Rocco Jr.
Completing the order under the wire were Flat Gone, King Cyrus, Gold Hawk, Louies Flower and Delta Downs Jackpot hero Rise Up.
"I don't know what happened to him today and why he has turned into such a terrible horse at the gate," a confused Melancon said in reference to Rise Up's issues. "He was standing perfect, and then he broke straight to the inside and got really aggressive. I don't know what's causing that."
Vicar's In Trouble is now 5-3-0-2, $788,900, in his career. Bred in Louisiana by Spendthrift Farm, the dark bay sophomore initially sold for $8,000 at a yearling at the 2012 Equine Sales Louisiana September sale. He was purchased by his current connections for $80,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Maryland May two-year-old sale.
Vicar's in Trouble is out of the winning Vicar mare Vibrant, a half-sister to Grade 3 winner True Direction. This is the female family of multiple Grade 1 hero Big Spruce; Grade 3 heroine Jabot; and multiple stakes winner and multiple Grade 1 runner-up Encolure. Farther back in this line is another Louisiana Derby winner in 1989 victor Prince Valiant as well as 1973 champion two-year-old filly Talking Picture.