Road To The Kentucky Derby: Instant Coffee Pours It On In Fair Grounds Stretch For Lecomte Victory - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

Road To The Kentucky Derby: Instant Coffee Pours It On In Fair Grounds Stretch For Lecomte Victory

Bolt d’Oro colt Instant Coffee, outside, en route to victory in the G3 Lecomte

Gold Square LLC's Instant Coffee uncoiled a last-to-first rally to capture the $200,000 Lecomte (G3) from five rival 3-year-olds Saturday at Fair Grounds.

The Bolt d'Oro colt was ridden by Luis Saez for trainer Brad Cox, who earlier on the card took the Silverbulletday with The Alys Look for 3-year-old fillies.

The 6-5 favorite, Instant Coffee struck from off a fast early pace, reeling in front-runner Two Phil's in the final furlong, and shaking clear to a 2 ½-length triumph.

“I really liked the way (Instant Coffee) picked them up at the three-eighths (pole),” Cox said. “Oftentimes in these two-turn 3-year-old races there's some speed and there was (today). Luis did a good job guiding him to the outside and he stayed on down the middle of the track. He likes Churchill (Downs). He likes a long stretch. He's a nice colt. He's a really sound horse with a good mind. Hopefully we can keep him happy and healthy. You have to be able to put them on a van, ship them around. That's what good horses are going to have to do. You can't have any excuses. This horse has been able to do that, but right now I'm pretty content with keeping him right here.”

A horse with proven stamina, Instant Coffee let the field go early, settling in last, six lengths behind the front runner Echo Again, who blitzed through the early factions in :24.20 and :47.19. Confidence Game tracked Echo Again three wide and in the second turn made his move for the front as Echo Again began to tire. Emerging from a relaxed stalking trip in the second turn, Two Phil's moved to the lead at the top of the stretch and dug in for the battle against Instant Coffee, who charged down the five path and proved to be too much.

“We knew there was going to be a little speed in the race and that the long stretch is good for him,” Saez said. “We were in good shape (going in). I felt like when he came into the stretch, he wanted to pass everybody and get there first. He's a pretty honest horse. Brad (trainer Cox) always does a great job.”

Instant Coffee earned his second Kentucky Derby prep points win, collecting 20 qualifying points Saturday for the Louisville classic. He sits in second on the Kentucky Derby Leaderboard with 32 points..

Two Phil's hung on for second, earning 8 qualifying points toward the Kentucky Derby. Trained by Larry Rivelli, the son of Hard Spun was piloted by Jareth Loveberry.

“I thought he moved a half a touch early, but he ran really good,” Loveberry said. “He dug back in, he wanted to come back. He got outrun today but he'll be back.”

Confidence Game finished another 5 1/4 lengths back in third, earning 6 points to go with the 1 point he earned finishing fifth in the Iroquois (G3). Three lengths behind Confidence Game, Denington earned 4, and now has 8. Further up the track, Bromley earned 2 finishing 5th. Pulled up in the homestretch, Echo Again finished last.

Instant Coffee notched his second consecutive stakes win following his Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) victory, in which he collected 10 Kentucky Derby qualifying points, Nov. 26 at Churchill Downs. That effort followed his fourth in the Claiborne Breeders' Futurity (G1), the lone blemish on his record, after his debut win Sept. 3 at Saratoga. His record stands at 3-0-0 from four starts and $442,815 in purse earnings.

Gold Square has hopes that Instant Coffee can be their second Kentucky Derby runner after  Cox-trained Cyberknife competed in last year's edition.

The next Derby points race (50-20-15-10-5) in the Fair Grounds series is the $400,000 Risen Star (G2) on February 18 run at 1 1/8 miles. The series concludes with the $100,000 Louisiana Derby (G2) at 1 3/16 miles on March 25 (100-40-30-20-10).

Bred in Kentucky by Sagamore Farm, Instant Coffee is out of the Uncle Mo mare Follow No One.

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