2020 Louisiana Derby Exotics, Picks & Betting Power Rankings: The Longshots That Have the Most Value

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Keith Birmingham/MediaNews Group/Pasadena Star-News via Getty Images

  • Looking for some longshot bets and exotics for the 2020 Louisiana Derby? You've come to the right place.
  • Sean Zerillo ranks the entire field and picks out the three horses worth a bet to win, along with a few exotics that he's playing on Saturday before the Louisiana Derby gets underway at 5:49 p.m. ET.

The 2020 Louisiana Derby will go to post at 5:49 p.m. ET on Saturday at Fair Grounds with 170 Kentucky Derby qualifying points on the line – distributed 100-40-20-10 from first through fourth place; through the most exciting two minutes in sports has been postponed until September.

For the first time in its 107-year history, this prep race will be contested at 1 3/16 miles — the same distance as the Preakness Stakes. 

Only two Louisana Derby winners have gone on to win the Kentucky Derby — the last being Grindstone in 1996 – but the 2019 edition of the race came back very strong, featuring three Grade I winners (including Kentucky Derby champion Country House and Preakness winner War of Will) and another multiple graded stakes winner after the fact.

The 2020 edition is an exciting race for handicappers, featuring a full field of 14 horses, including eight local contenders from the two divisions of the Risen Star (G-2) at Fair Grounds on February 15 – which has produced eight of the past 10 Louisana Derby winners, and some exciting shippers from around the country – including the No. 8 Royal Act – a California son of Triple Crown winner American Pharoah.

The No. 10 Enforceable (7-2), who won the Lecomte (G-3) at Fair Grounds on January 18 and finished second behind Mr. Monomoy (currently recovering from an injury) in the faster division of the Risen Star is the morning line favorite, but this looks to be the most wide-open Kentucky Derby prep race in recent memory.


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2020 Louisiana Derby Odds

No. 1: Major Fed (8-1)
No. 2: Mailman Money (15-1)
No. 3: Wells Bayou (8-1)
No. 4: Chestertown (15-1)
No. 5: Social Afleet (50-1)
No. 6: Shake Some Action (15-1)
No. 7: Sharecropper (20-1)
No. 8: Royal Act (10-1)
No. 9: Portos (8-1)
No. 10: Enforceable (7-2)
No. 11: Ny Traffic (15-1)
No. 12: Lynn’s Map (30-1)
No. 13: Silver State (6-1)
No. 14: Modernist (6-1)

2020 Louisiana Derby Power Rankings

Based upon the morning line, implied odds suggest that the No. 10 Enforceable wins this race 22.2% of the time.

However, he’s a one-run closer who needs speed in front of him to mow down his competition in the stretch, and in a larger field of 14, there’s always a worry that he’ll get caught in traffic and get a bad trip – though he has faced 11 and 13 horses in his past two starts.

As a son of Tapit, he’s bred for the distance, and he’s the most likely contender to hit the board. Trainer Mark Casse followed the same path to the Derby (Lecomte to Risen Star to Louisana Derby) with War of Will – and my only worry is Enforceable’s running style. 

Though there is a bunch of pace in this race, Enforceable is not my top choice – but I am using him in exotics.

He should get a reliable pace setup in this race to come running at the end.

The Pace Scenario and Speed Comparison

In any race, it’s essential to see where horses will stack up in terms of the early running – particularly in larger fields.

TimeFormUS does a great job of that, and they expect a fast pace in this race.

They see the No. 3 Wells Bayou challenged on the lead by the No. 11 NY Traffic, if he can get over from the outside.

The question is whether the No. 14 Modernist, the upset winner in the slower division of the Risen Star, can also get to the front with all of that speed to his inside.

The outside draw is potentially a bad spot for a horse that likes to press the pace, but if he can join those two horses on the lead, it should create a late pace meltdown for the No. 10 Enforceable to run everyone down in the stretch – if he isn’t forced too wide at the far turn in this big field.

Based upon the pace setup, I’ll be looking to use the late-running favorite, in addition to the horse that I think will overcome the pace battle up front, and look to mix in some remaining “midflight” horses on my exotic tickets.

On prior form, the must-use horses are the No. 3 Wells Bayou and No. 8 Royal Act:

Horses I’m Tossing Out

No. 5 Social Afleet (50-1) – There’s another longshot I prefer in this race. Social Afleet has a solid record at Fair Grounds, winning two of three starts, but all were against locally bred competition. He won his last race gate to wire after switching tactics which could feed into this hot pace – but he’s probably not fast enough to even get to the front unless he improves.

No. 7 Sharecropper (20-1) – Finished fourth, behind Shake Some Action and Chestertown in an allowance race, and I would prefer to back the speed, talent, and connections of those other colts.

Horses I’m Mostly Against

No. 14: Modernist (6-1) – With two exceptions, I’m going to be against the slower division of the Risen Star in this race, and that includes the surprise winner Modernist who beat five contenders he will see again in here. But he had a perfect trip from an inside post that day and was able to control a moderate pace. Coming from an outside position, he likely won’t be on the lead this time and will need to change his running style, and looks like an underlay in the betting market.

No. 11: Ny Traffic (15-1) – Frontrunner set the pace but finished third behind Modernist and Major Fed in the Risen Star, and will have to battle early from the outside with Modernist here to get to the front. He made two runs in that Risen Star and still came up short, and I don’t think the added ground or pace scenario will be to his benefit.

No. 2: Mailman Money (15-1) – Flattened out in the stretch of the Risen Star and finished fourth behind NY Traffic after gaining a perfect stalking position. He could hit the board if he moves forward, but I don’t think he wants the extra distance.

Horses to Use Underneath in Exotics

No. 12: Lynn’s Map (30-1) – Finished Sixth in that same Risen Star race despite a poor trip, and has a win at Churchill Downs last fall over Mr. Monomoy – who won the faster division of the Risen Star. He should be closer to the pace this time, and I don’t think he’s far off from the other horses he lost to in the Risen Star. I’ll gladly include him on my tickets at double their odds.

No. 1: Major Fed (8-1)  – Joel Rosario takes the mount while Julian Leparoux hops off to ride the favorite Enforceable. Major Fed should be able to work out a solid stalking trip from the inside post and turn the tables on Modernist – whom he couldn’t close down in the stretch of that Risen Star after going four-wide at the turn. He looked to be running best in that race and should get a better trip this time.

No. 9: Portos (8-1)  – The New York-bred ships in from Aqueduct for Todd Pletcher, who has won this race four times. Portos is bred for distance from his sire Tapit and has continually improved his speed scores, but he’s a bit of a grinding / plodding horse and seems like one to save for trifectas and superfectas.

No. 6: Shake Some Action (15-1) – Lightly raced but defeated Chestertown last time out on February 15, comes from a strong pedigree (Into Mischief) has two wins at nine furlongs and is reportedly doing well in training for Brad Cox. More importantly, I think his odds will be closer to 20-1 and that Chestertown’s odds will be closer to 10-1 by post time. Look for him to come charging late after a hot pace.

No. 13: Silver State (6-1)  – Steve Asmussen’s leading contender was the beaten favorite in the faster division of the Risen Star, but I’m concerned about the extra distance and his post position. He’s a game horse, however, and hasn’t run a bad race – so I think you need to include him on all exotic tickets – but I prefer Chestertown’s potential as a win contender from Asmussen’s barn.

No. 4: Chestertown (15-1) – Another son of Tapit, Chestertown, was a $2 million purchase as a two-year-old in training. Again, distance shouldn’t be an issue for any Tapit – and Chestertown has gone off as the top choice in all four-lifetime starts – but he’s taking a big step up from allowance races to graded stakes competition. However, he has massive potential for Steve Asmussen, who has won the Louisana Derby three times.

Horses to Play to Win

No. 10: Enforceable (7-2) – To reiterate, the morning-line favorite should get the right pace setup in here, and he has the breeding for the distance – but he always needs a clean trip to run his best race. There’s nothing more aesthetically pleasing in horse racing than watching a dominant closer destroy an entire field in the final two furlongs. But if Enforceable has to slam on the breaks into traffic at any point, his race is over – and he’s the most likely horse to have to deal with horses in front of him. But he could be the best dirt closer since 2016 Preakness winner Exaggerator – I just think his odds will be a bit short. He’s a “B” horse for me.

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No. 8: Royal Act (10-1)  – American Pharoah’s foals have performed better on the turf than the dirt, but this colt has the second-highest speed figure in the field from a second-place finish in the Robert B. Lewis (G-3) after he broke poorly and lost ground. If he can avoid those gate problems and get himself into a stalking trip in the second flight, this talented runner can take a big step forward in his third career start. I don’t think you’ll be getting 10-1, but I do think he cracks the trifecta. Technically he’s my second choice, but Royal Act is an “A” horse in multi-race wagers with two triple-digit speed scores.

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No. 3: Wells Bayou (8-1)  – Ships over from Oaklawn Park for Brad Cox. The perfect post draw to get this pacesetter to the front – with other speed horses NY Traffic and Modernist to his far outside. He has to stretch out and face speed upfront, but should be able to work out his trip – and his Lookin at Lucky pedigree, with Preakness winner Big Brown highlighting his female family suggests distance won’t be an issue. The only question is whether he survives sustained pressure up top, but his 96 Beyer and 114 Timeform speed scores tower over most of this field. He’s my top selection, but it’s almost a dead heat with Royal Act thanks to the pace scenario. Wells Bayou set blazing fractions in the Southwest Stakes (G-3) and did all of the work, and was still game to finish second. If he can get any kind of breather after the opening half-mile, he could wire this field.

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Picks: 3 over 8, 10, 4

Example Wagers

The product of sorting through those horses? We can now group horses together, and make up some exotic tickets.

$1.00 Exacta Box  = $6 Ticket 

1st: 3, 8, 10

2nd: 3, 8, 10

$0.50 Trifecta  = $7 Ticket 

1st: 3, 8

2nd: 3, 8

3rd: 1, 4, 6, 9, 10, 12, 13

$0.50 Trifecta  = $7 Ticket 

1st: 3, 8

2nd: 1, 4, 6, 9, 10, 12, 13

3rd: 3, 8

$0.10 Superfecta  = $8.40 Ticket 

1st: 3, 8

2nd: 3, 8

3rd: 1, 4, 6, 9, 10, 12, 13

4th: 1, 4, 6, 9, 10, 12, 13

$0.10 Superfecta  = $8.40 Ticket

1st: 3, 8

2nd: 1, 4, 6, 9, 10, 12, 13

3rd: 3, 8

4th: 1, 4, 6, 9, 10, 12, 13

$0.10 Superfecta  = $8.40 Ticket

1st: 3, 8

2nd: 1, 4, 6, 9, 10, 12, 13

3rd: 1, 4, 6, 9, 10, 12, 13

4th: 3, 8

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