Sunday, January 25, 2015

Barn Notes: Sunday, January 25


                        Contact: Michael Adolphson

Mobile: (202) 716-7046

Press Box: (504) 948-1255


Barn Notes:  Sunday, January 25, 2015                                                                                          

·        Texas Red Probable for Risen Star

·        Irish You Well to Point for Mineshaft



            Grade I $2,000,000 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Texas Red has the Grade II $400,000 Risen Star Stakes on his radar, according to trainer Keith Desormeaux.  Recently second in the voting for Eclipse Award champion juvenile, the son of Afleet Alex has been working steadily at Santa Anita Park for his conditioner, who co-owns the colt with a partnership that includes Erich Brehm, Wayne Detmar and Lee Michaels et al.  On Saturday morning, the bay charge worked five furlongs in 1:01.40. “Silky smooth. Great enthusiasm. Happy horse!” exclaimed regular rider and three-time Kentucky Derby-winning jockey Kent Desormeaux via Twitter afterward. 


“What we’re leaning toward now is the (Grade II $200,000) San Vicente on the first (of February),” (Keith) Desormeaux said in an interview with TVG Network.  “I’m thinking about wheeling him back pretty quickly in the Risen Star on (Feb. 21) and then we’ll have a little gap between the Risen Star and the (Grade I) $1,000,000 Santa Anita Derby (on Apr. 4).”


Having a seven-furlong starting point and wheeling back quickly for a three-race Kentucky Derby prep schedule is a format that has been used by Triple Crown runners effectively in the past.  In 1997, Robert and Beverly Lewis’ Silver Charm won the San Vicente and was second in both the 1 1/16-miles San Felipe and 1 1/8-miles Santa Anita Derby within an eight-week span before winning the Derby and Preakness Stakes and finishing second in the Belmont.  In 1989, Easy Goer won the seven-furlong Swale Stakes, the one-mile Gotham and 1 1/8-mile Wood Memorial in a seven-week span before finishing second in both the Derby and Preakness and then winning the Belmont Stakes.   More recently, Curlin won his seven-furlong debut in early February 2007 before winning both the 1 1/16-miles Rebel Stakes and 1 1/8-miles Arkansas Derby within a 10-week span before finishing third in the Derby and Belmont and winning the Preakness betwixt.


“It’s still on schedule,” Desormeaux said via telephone on Sunday afternoon.  “It’s always been kind of a tentative schedule, like with all things concerning racehorses.  It seems like the best plan for me at this point.  It’s kind of quick, but I like the way it feels.  If I can get him (to Fair Grounds) a week early, that would be perfect.  I’ll be at the mercy of whoever is going to fly us and their schedule.”


In five career starts, the $17,000 Keeneland September Yearling Sale bargain has earned $1,192,300 and never finished worse than fourth.  After a debut loss by a neck in a five-furlong Arlington International Racecourse maiden in July, the robust Kentucky-bred was fourth in a six-furlong Del Mar maiden before graduating in his first start around two turns in a one-mile maiden at said California course.  He returned to finish a flying third to eventual Eclipse champion American Pharoah in the Grade I $300,000 FrontRunner Stakes one race prior to pummeling his Breeders’ Cup rivals by 6½ lengths – both at Santa Anita.  Earning a 104 Beyer Speed Figure in the latter, he left Upstart – who returned in a 105 Beyer-earning romp in Saturday’s Grade II $400,000 Holy Bull Stakes – and Grade I winner Carpe Diem in the rubble. 


            “For him to overcome the fact that he’s not really built to be an early horse – that’s what makes him great and that’s also what makes us so excited about this year,” Desormeaux continued.  “If he can do what he did as a juvenile, what can he accomplish as a 3-year-old?”




            Donegal Racing’s multiple graded stakes-placed Irish You Well continued working impressively on Sunday morning with a five-furlong move in 1:00.40 – good for second best of 47 moves at the distance.  Trained by Wayne Catalano, his smart work follows an easy one at the same distance in 1:02.20 one week ago and a bullet half-mile move in :48.40 on Jan. 6. 


            “He worked very good today,” Catalano said.  “We’ll probably shoot for the (Grade III $125,000 Mineshaft) Handicap here (on Feb. 21).  He fits there and is a good horse.” 


            Last seen running fourth behind subsequent Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Bayern and graded stakes winners Albano and Wildcat Red in the Grade I $1,000,000 Haskell Invitational on July 27, the son of Broken Vow took an unorthodox journey to compete at the top level. 


After six failed attempts and multiple excuses at the maiden special weight level – including a third to subsequent Kentucky Derby runner-up Commanding Curve at Churchill Downs in Nov. 2013 – Catalano put his belief in the chestnut colt on the line when running him as a maiden in the Grade III $500,000 Illinois Derby at Hawthorne Race Course and Grade II $200,000 Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont Park, consecutively.  The quality colt responded by finishing third in both of those rich events.  The Peter Pan, in particular, was notable considering the first- and second-place finishers – Tonalist and Commissioner – went repeat that order in the Belmont Stakes four weeks later.


Bred in Kentucky by Dell Hancock and Bernie Sams, Irish You Well displayed the quality of his deep Claiborne Farm pedigree with a 7½-length victory next out in maiden company at Monmouth Park and then again with a victory in the Listed $105,000 Long Branch Stakes at the same Jersey Shore establishment three weeks prior to the Haskell.  Despite only two victories in 11 starts, the consistent $170,000 Keeneland September Yearling Sale purchase has earned $242,150 and never failed to acquire a check – finishing fifth or better in all.




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READ MORE - Barn Notes: Sunday, January 25

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Barn Notes: January 24, 2015


                        Contact: Michael Adolphson

Mobile: (202) 716-7046

Press Box: (504) 948-1255


Barn Notes:  Saturday, January 24, 2015                                                                                       

·        Another Lemon Drop Deserves Another Try

·        Departing Returns to Training

·        Broberg High on A M Milky Way

·        Shook Up and Eden Grey’s Kitten Look for Repeat Romps Monday




            Highly impressive Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots allowance winner Another Lemon Drop has exited his game fourth-place finish in the Grade III $200,000 Lecomte Stakes on Jan. 17 in good shape, according to trainer Phil Bauer.  Owned by Rigney Racing, the son of Lemon Drop Kid finished out of the money for the first time in five career starts in the Lecomte, but did not disgrace himself while making a sharp inside move around the turn and finishing five lengths behind Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey’s graded stakes-winning Breeders’ Cup also-ran International Star.


            “He came from the 10-hole and was maybe too close, but that’s not really an excuse,” Bauer said.  “(Jockey) Calvin (Borel) was happy on the backside and when he made a run we thought we could win it – but he flattened out.  He’s never done that.  He did show us he could compete with those horses and deserves another shot.  I still feel like he didn’t disappoint us, even though we really wanted to be top-three.”


            Previous to the Lecomte, the leggy dark bay broke his maiden over the Keeneland grass, was third in a Churchill Downs allowance to subsequent Grade I winner Dortmund and romped by a widening five lengths in a Fair Grounds allowance over a sealed sloppy surface.


“He came out in good shape and we’ll point for the Risen Star,” Bauer continued.  “There’s also the ($60,000 Black Gold Stakes) at seven and a half furongs on the grass as a backup option.  It’s horseracing – you never know what will happen.”




            Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider’s homebred multiple graded stakes winner Departing has returned to the Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots barn of trainer Al Stall, Jr. and commenced preparations for a 5-year-old campaign.  Last seen finishing a dull seventh – in the Grade I $500,000 Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs – an outlier in an otherwise very consistent career of 12 top-four finishes in 15 races, the gelded son of War Front has four stakes wins (three graded) to his name.


            According to assistant trainer Pam Fitzgerald, the bay charge has been going to the track daily, but has yet to begin serious work.  Though he only won once in 2014, Departing did not disgrace himself throughout the year, placing in three stakes – including the Grade I $500,000 Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill in June.  As a sophomore in 2013, he won the Illinois, West Virginia and Super Derbies after finishing third in the Louisiana version.



            Trainer Karl Broberg’s belief in David Davis’ A M Milky Way got its due last Saturday when the Texas-bred, Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots-based son of Elusive Bluff won his first career stakes in his fourth start.  Always contentious, the 3-year-old bay gelding impressively out-gamed his $50,000 Groovy Stakes rivals en route to a 1 ¼-length score in a good 1:11.05. 


“He went faster than the older horses in a stakes that day,” Broberg said.  “That says a lot about the kind of horse he is.  Right now he’s doing fine and is back at the Fair Grounds.  (The Groovy) was actually our ultimate goal, so at this point we’re uncommitted.”


Previous to his first blacktype acquisition, the homebred debuted with a sharp second at 22-1 odds in a muddy Fair Grounds maiden – defeating Fox Hill Farm’s impressive next-out winner Exodus by 1¾ lengths.  He followed that up with a victory at the same trip to break his maiden three weeks later and then was a badly beaten fifth 19 days later in an allowance after a poor break, steadying early and going five-wide on the turn.




            Monday’s card at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots features the returns of two of the most dominant winners of the meet in two allowance races.  Regis Racing’s Steve Asmussen-trained Shook Up returns after a 13½-length smashing of five other sophomore fillies in a one-mile and 70-yard maiden on Jan. 3, while Whispering Oaks Farm’s Steve Flint-trained Eden Grey’s Kitten comes back off a 10¼-length drubbing of eight other Louisiana-bred 5½-furlong turf sprinters on New Year’s Day.


Shook Up is entered in a first level allowance at the same distance as her maiden win and has drawn the rail in a field that also includes stakes fillies Lovely Maria and I’m a Looker.  The former, owned by Brereton C. Jones and trained by Larry Jones, was pulled from consideration for the Listed $125,000 Silverbulletday Stakes – which was ultimately won by stablemate I’m a Chatterbox – in favor of this spot.  Fourth last out after a rough trip in the $100,000 Trapeze Stakes at Remington Park over a two-turn mile and breaking from the outside 11-post, she has every right to give expected favorite Shook Up a tussle. 


            Glenmare Farm’s Pat Dupuy-trained I’m a Looker, on the other hand, was off very slowly in the $50,000 Letellier Memorial Stakes on Dec. 20 and will be making her two-turn debut.  A tall Henny Hughes filly with a lot of stamina on her female side, she should enjoy the increase in real estate.  Still, she will have to have her running shoes on to defeat Shook Up – a regally bred daughter of Tapit and Grade I winner Sugar Shake who earned a 94 Beyer Speed Figure in her maiden win (the highest two-turn number of any sophomore filly in America thus far in 2015).  The race goes as the eighth on a nine-race card with a 4:54 p.m. post time.


            Race seven (4:24 p.m.) will be the second appearance of Eden Grey’s Kitten, a Pelican State-bred son of Kitten’s Joy from the female family of Travers winner Corporate Report.  After breaking alertly under James Graham last out, he manhandled his fellow statebreds en route to a 77 Beyer Speed Figure and now stretches out to two turns. 


The one-mile distance should be of little issue for the 8-5 morning line favorite in the first-level statebred event, but the chestnut gelding may get a fight from Ballybrit Stable’s Mike Dini-trained Gallery.  Third in an October open maiden over a good Keeneland turf course, the son of Munnings returned to easily win a state-bred maiden on Jan. 9 by four lengths under Florent Geroux.  Said Frenchman has the return call when the 5-2 morning line second choice breaks from the outside post nine.  




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READ MORE - Barn Notes: January 24, 2015

Live racing cancelled at Aqueduct Saturday, simulcasting available

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Contact: NYRA Press Office
(718) 659-2244

Live racing cancelled at Aqueduct  Saturday, simulcasting available

OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Due to today's winter weather conditions, and out of a continued abundance of caution for the safety of our jockeys and our equine athletes, the New York Racing Association has cancelled live racing at Aqueduct Racetrack for Saturday, January 24.
Aqueduct and the Belmont Cafe at Belmont Park will remain open today for simulcasting. 
Live racing is scheduled to resume at Aqueduct Racetrack on Sunday, January  25.




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READ MORE - Live racing cancelled at Aqueduct Saturday, simulcasting available

Friday, January 23, 2015

Barn Notes: Friday, January 23



                        Contact: Michael Adolphson

Mobile: (202) 716-7046

Press Box: (504) 948-1255


Barn Notes:  Friday, January 23, 2015                                                                                           

·        Amoss Excited to Move Forward with War Story

·        Eramia Set to Return January 29th

·        Kiss to Remember Gets a Texas Stretch-out Shot

·        Eagle to Stay the Course




            Tom Amoss – already a 10-time champion at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots – is having a huge meet by any trainer’s standards in this 143rd season of racing.  Striking at 36% and with a 12-win lead (through Thursday’s card) over his closest rival approaching the half-way point of the meet, the New Orleans native now looks to take home a prize he holds in high esteem – the Grade II $750,000 Louisiana Derby on Mar. 28. 


The conditioner’s best chance in 2015 may come in the form of Loooch Racing Stable and Chris Dunn’s War Story – a winner of two of three starts who was second in the Grade III $200,000 Lecomte Stakes on Saturday, Jan. 17, off a 20-day rest.  Prior to that, the son of Northern Afleet was a sharp winner of a local one-mile allowance and was victorious in a seven-furlong maiden special weight at Churchill Downs to kick off his career.


Performing on such short rest – especially at such a demanding level – is against the patient trainer’s usual modus operandi, but the chestnut gelding still raced gamely in defeat after a rough trip.


“He didn’t break well and was widest of all turning for home,” Amoss said.  “He came out good, though.  I was pleased even though we didn’t win.  Now we have plenty of time to use training as an art instead of the dealing with a short break and I look forward to that.”


War Story, who was purchased by his current owners between his first and second races, will now focus on the next step on the Louisiana road to the Triple Crown – the Grade II $400,000 Risen Star Stakes on Feb. 21.




            Jockey Richard Eramia, who has been out since suffering a shoulder injury in a Nov. 29 riding mishap, has been cleared and is currently working horses, according to agent Rick Mocklin.  The 33-year-old worked one horse on Wednesday morning, four on Thursday morning and is expected to work the same amount over the next few days.  A return to the race day saddle is tentatively planned for Jan. 29.  The multiple graded stakes-winning rider finished 14th in wins in the nation in 2014, despite not riding the final month of the year. 


            Mocklin also reported that Andre Ramgeet, who suffered a broken clavicle and skull fractures in a bad spill in late December, is still in a slow healing process that is expected to include about four months of downtime.  The apprentice jockey is not expected to be back riding for at least six months and is currently on the mend with his family.




            Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots’ meet-leading owner, trainer and jockey will take their show on the road on Saturday with one of their best horses when conditioner Tom Amoss gives rider James Graham the leg-up on Maggi Moss’ Kiss to Remember in Sam Houston’s richest race, the $400,000 Houston Ladies Classic. 


Currently listed at 6-1 on the morning line, the recent local winner of the off-the-turf one-mile $60,000 Pago Hop Stakes will take on fellow Fair Grounds-based expected favorite Cassatt, who enters for trainer Larry Jones and Fox Hill Farm. 


“We’re going to roll the dice with her,” Amoss said.  “She’s three turning four and a mile and a sixteenth is the farthest I’ll run her.  Plus, it’s too attractive a spot not to give it a try.”


The Maryland-bred daughter of Big Brown will be looking for her third stakes win.  She has placed in four others.




            William S. Farish’s Eagle, the beaten 3-1 morning line and post time favorite in last Saturday’s Grade III $200,000 Lecomte Stakes, has exited his disappointing seventh-place finish well, according to trainer Neil Howard.  Breaking from the far outside 11-hole with a short run to the first turn, the son of Candy Ride was bumped by Runhappy into the first turn and was five-wide on both bends before failing to threaten.  The result was his first poor performance in five starts.


“He came out well,” Howard reported.  “The post didn’t help him, but they all had to go on the same track.  Young horses sometimes get bumped and grab the bit on the backside.  He just kind of had a bad day.  Not every horse runs their A-game every time.”


            Prior to the Lecomte, the chestnut was a game third – losing by less than a length – in the Grade II $200,000 Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill Downs.  He was beaten that day by one of the current favorites for the Kentucky Derby, Zayat Stables’ El Kebeir, who has since returned to win the Grade III $200,000 Jerome Stakes at Aqueduct for trainer John Terranova on Jan. 3.


“He’ll show his true colors,” Howard continued.  “Right now our plan is to stay on course (for the Grade II $400,000 Risen Star Stakes on Feb. 21).”




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READ MORE - Barn Notes: Friday, January 23

MEDIA ALERT: Fair Grounds Carnival Season Dates & Post Time Reminder


1751 Gentilly Blvd.,   New Orleans, LA 70119




Contact: Brian W. Spencer, Racing Analyst/Racing Communications, 504.948.1233,




NEW ORLEANS (January 23, 2015) – With Carnival season in full swing in New Orleans, live racing at Fair Grounds will be conducted on Mardi Gras as well as several other noteworthy days in the coming weeks, some with alternate post times. Regular first post is 1:25 p.m.


First Sunday in February (February 1): First post 12 p.m.
Lundi Gras (February 16): First post 1:25 p.m.
Mardi Gras Day (February 17): First post 12 p.m.

Louisiana Derby Preview Day (February 21): First post 12:30 p.m.

Other programming of note includes jockey trading card giveaways on January 24, February 7 and February 15, Teacher Appreciation Day on February 8, and Bark Week from February 22-28 with Jack Russell Terrier racing on February 22 and wiener dog racing held on February 28.


About Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots

Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, the nation’s third-oldest racetrack, has been in operation since 1872. Located in New Orleans, Fair Grounds is owned by Churchill Downs Incorporated (NASDAQ Global Select Market: CHDN); it also operates a slot-machine gaming facility and 11 off-track betting parlors throughout southeast Louisiana. The 143rd Thoroughbred Racing Season – highlighted by the 102nd running of the Louisiana Derby – will run from November 2014 through March 2015. More information can be found online at




This Churchill Downs Incorporated communication (including any attachments) is intended for the use of the intended recipient(s) only and may contain information that is confidential, privileged or legally protected. Any unauthorized use or dissemination of this communication is strictly prohibited. If you have received this communication in error, please immediately notify the sender by return e-mail message and delete all copies of the original communication. Thank you for your cooperation.

READ MORE - MEDIA ALERT: Fair Grounds Carnival Season Dates & Post Time Reminder

Thursday, January 22, 2015

FAIR GROUNDS FOCUS: Road to Louisiana Derby Day Vol. 1


Contact: Michael Adolphson

Mobile: (202) 716-7046

Press Box: (504) 948-1255




FAIR GROUNDS FOCUS:  Road to Louisiana Derby Day 2015 – Vol. 1                                   

·        3-Year-Olds:  International Star Invades, War Story Best of Locals

·        3-Year-Old Fillies:  Jones Firing on All Cylinders




            The Grade III $200,000 Lecomte Stakes on Jan. 17 provided the local fans with their initial taste of the Triple Crown trail and the first of the three major local graded stakes for sophomores.  The race shaped up like a showdown of Florida vs. Louisiana with four invaders from the Sunshine State and a formidable quintet of local charges waiting for them.  Unfortunately for the locals – despite a fine showing by three of those five – Gulfstream Park-based International Star seized the victory in the final sixteenth of a mile to earn owners Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey and trainer Mike Maker a second consecutive conquering of the Lecomte. 


            Maker, who also has a string based locally, quickly returned the son of 2000 Kentucky Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus to the greater Miami area and will now take a “serious look” at the local Grade II $400,000 Risen Star Stakes.  Last year, the same connections’ Lecomte winner Vicar’s in Trouble finished third after a troubled trip in the Risen Star and then returned five weeks later to win the meet centerpiece Louisiana Derby.


            Of the locals, Loooch Racing Stable and Chris Dunn’s recent acquisition War Story gave a superb showing in his runner-up effort.  Slowest out of the gate after a problematic start, the son of Northern Afleet rallied widest of all to finish a solid second, 2½ lengths astern International Star.  The race was the second since his private acquisition and first loss in three career attempts.  According to his connections, the Tom Amoss-trained colt will most likely move on to the Risen Star.  His conditioner looks forward to the five-week break between races after having only 20 days’ rest prior to the Lecomte.


            Mike McCarty’s Steve Asmussen-trained Tiznow R J and Rigney Racing’s Phil Bauer-trained Another Lemon Drop gave fine showings of themselves to finish third and fourth in their stakes debuts.  Both locally based charges made bold bids in early stretch and have the stamina (being by Tiznow and Lemon Drop Kid, respectively) to move forward off their performances. 


The disappointments of the race came from the William S. Farish’s locally based Eagle and Team Valor International and Southern Equine Stable’s Florida invader Savoy Stomp.  Eagle, a Neil Howard trainee, was the morning line and post time favorite (3-1) and suffered from a wide trip.  According to jockey Brian Hernandez, Jr., the son of Candy Ride (who stands at Farish’s Lane’s End Farm) was slammed in the first turn and never had a chance to show his true colors – ultimately resulting in the first poor showing of his five-race career.  Expected to come back in the Risen Star, the emblazoned chestnut will look to return to the form that saw him finishing a flying third in the Grade II $200,000 Kentucky Jockey Club, beaten less than a length by next-out Grade III $200,000 Jerome Stakes winner El Kabeir.  Fasig-Tipton Saratoga 2013 sale topper Savoy Stomp started slowly and never engaged his rivals enough to make a dent under Hall of Famer Mike Smith in an uninspiring performance.  It was a rare miss for the usually Fair Grounds-effective Todd Pletcher barn.


            Looking to the future, one cannot mention impressive local sophomores without referring to Fox Hill Farm’s regally bred Exodus, who won with authority in his third career race on Jan. 4 going six furlongs for trainer Larry Jones.  By Medaglia d’Oro out of multiple Grade I-winning seven-furlong specialist Stop Traffic, Exodus was a $600,000 purchase at the same sale as Savoy Stomp and is a half-brother to Cross Traffic (by Unbridled’s Song), who won the 1 1/8-miles Grade I Whitney Handicap in only his fifth career start in 2013.  Built similarly to his brother with a great deal of muscle and an excellent shoulder, the bay colt earned a 91 Beyer Speed Figure for his performance earlier this month, which was also his first try on a fast surface. 


            Exodus joins another noteworthy local winner in Columbine Stable’s Al Stall, Jr.-trained Waging War this Saturday in the $50,000 Allen’s Landing Stakes at Sam Houston Race Park.  A son of War Front out of a Seeking the Gold half-sister to Grade I winning turf horse Stroll, Waging War is riddled with the classy bloodlines of his breeder, Claiborne Farm.  Waging War won a six-furlong allowance on Jan. 2 in impressive fashion and – like Exodus – is most likely looking to use a positive showing in the seven-furlong stakes as a prep for the Risen Star four weeks later. 


            Locally based sophomores who recently raced elsewhere and could conceivably compete at Fair Grounds next out include the Steve Asmussen-trained duo of Jerry Durant’s Lucky Player and Clark Brewster’s Bayerd.  Both stakes-winning charges ran in Monday’s $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes at Oaklawn Park after a series of local works, finishing second and eighth, respectively.


            While nothing has been reported either way, it is worth noting that trainer Keith Desormeaux keeps a healthy string of horses locally and could conceivably have one of Fair Grounds’ major sophomore Kentucky Derby preps in mind for Grade I $2,000,000 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Texas Red.  Recently second in the voting for Eclipse champion juvenile, the son of Afleet Alex has had four workouts at Santa Anita Park since returning from a break, including a six-furlong move in 1:14 flat on Saturday from the gate.


Three locally based colts worth watching who exited a swift renewal of the $50,000 Sugar Bowl Stakes on Dec. 20 are William and Corinne’s Asmussen-trained Cinco Charlie, Holmark Stables IV’s Richie Scherer-trained Bourbon Cowboy and Klaravich Stables and William Lawrence’s Amoss-trained Control Stake.  Earning a 97 Beyer Speed Figure in victory, Cinco Charlie returns this Saturday in the one-mile $100,000 Riley Allison Derby at Sunland Park.  A photo-finish second in the Sugar Bowl, Bourbon Cowboy returns in a 5½-furlong turf sprint on Friday after opting out of the stretch-out in the Lecomte.  The quickest to come back off the Sugar Bowl, Control Stake returned on three weeks’ rest to take the two-turn seven-furlong $75,000 Big Drama Stakes at Delta Downs on Jan. 10.  Proven around two bends and winning easily by two lengths, the race may have set up the son of Discreetly Mine for a return to tougher competition in the Risen Star.


Lastly, it may seem preposterous to consider a turf sprint maiden winner by Kitten’s Joy a sophomore to watch on the road to the Louisiana Derby, but one who breaks the mold is Eden Grey’s Kitten.  On New Year’s Day, the Louisiana-bred chestnut colt annihilated a 5½-furlong maiden special weight field by 10¼ lengths for trainer Steve Flint and owner Whispering Oaks Farm.  The handsome colt hails from a female family lush with classy dirt performers, including Travers Stakes winner Corporate Report, and Flint quickly reported after the victory that Eden Grey’s Kitten handles the dirt as well as the turf.





            Trainer Larry Jones took his 29% strike percentage from 2014 and just kept on rolling into the new year.  The highlight of this momentum came on Jan. 17 when the barn entered a duo of horses, each, in two of the five stakes on the blockbuster card and won both in runaway fashion.  The more impressive of the two was easily the eight-length drubbing Fletcher and Carolyn Gray’s I’m a Chatterbox gave her rivals in the $125,000 Silverbulletday Stakes.    Thrashing a field that included a Breeders’ Cup runner-up and three last-out stakes winners, the daughter of Munnings went wire-to-wire and was even eased up late while much the best after setting honest fractions of :23.43 and :47.93 under Florent Geroux.


            I’m a Chatterbox is one of at least three sophomore fillies in the Jones barn that could possibly wind up in the gate for the Grade III $175,000 Rachel Alexandra Stakes on Feb. 21, or even the Grade II $400,000 Fair Grounds Oaks on Mar. 28.  Her Brereton C. Jones-owned stablemate Lovely Maria, who worked a solid half-mile on Thursday morning in :48.80, was originally on schedule to line up in the Silverbulletday gate, but (Larry) Jones decided to give her more time.  Fourth last out after a rough trip in the $100,000 Trapeze Stakes at Remington Park, she was a good second in two consecutive allowances prior to that.  The third member of the Jones triad is Tommy Ligon and Michael Pressley’s Divine Dawn, who retreated to fifth in the Silverbulletday after chasing her stablemate.  Possible to return to turf next out, the daughter of Divine Park does own a win over the dirt in her October debut at Keeneland.


The two most accomplished fillies on the grounds come from the adroit operations of Wayne Catalano and Al Stall, Jr.  Gary and Mary West’s West Coast Belle and Klaravich Stables and William Lawrence’s Top Decile both disappointed in the Silverbulletday, but have every right to improve next out.  Winner of the Grade II $200,000 Golden Rod in November, Catalano-trained West Coast Belle lost for the first time in four starts after a belated bid in the Silverbulletday, while twice Grade I-placed Stall pupil Top Decile was never a factor after a very wide trip. 


            While not as accomplished as the aforementioned pentad, one of most promising sophomore fillies on the grounds may be Charles Fipke’s regally bred Dallas Stewart trainee Forever Unbridled.  In three career races, the daughter of Unbridled’s Song out of Kentucky Oaks winner Lemons Forever was second in a Churchill Downs maiden to highly regarded Silverpocketsful, won a two-turn Fair Grounds maiden in impressive fashion and was a game, albeit distant, runner-up in the Silverbulletday. 


            Speaking of silver bullets, one cannot speak of sophomore fillies at the New Orleans oval without mention of Regis Racing’s Steve Asmussen-trained gray rocket Shook Up. A daughter of Tapit out of Grade I-winning Awesome Again mare Sugar Shake, Shook Up broke her maiden over a muddy, sealed surface in early January by a whopping 13 lengths and earned herself the highest two-turn Beyer Speed Figure (94) of any sophomore filly in America thus far in 2015.  To put such into perspective, I’m a Chatterbox earned a 93 for her Silverbulletday score.  If all goes “perfectly” – per Asmussen – Shook Up will meet that rival next in the Rachel Alexandra.




            Next week’s Fair Grounds Focus will dive even more into the existing 3-year-olds developing toward the spring, as well as delve into the locally based older horses (both turf and dirt) – including a look into the strong hand trainer Larry Jones holds – including an ‘Ace’ or two – the developing older horse contingent of the always-patient Al Stall, Jr. and the unstoppable Louisiana-bred grass phenom String King. 


Fair Grounds Focus: Road to Louisiana Derby Day 2015 is a weekly roundup of the equine athletes based at the New Orleans oval – as well as those from out of town – competing in the four major divisions that culminate with the corresponding marquee stakes races of the meet: the Grade II $750,000 Louisiana Derby (3-year-olds), Grade II $400,000 Fair Grounds Oaks (3-year-old fillies), Grade II $400,000 New Orleans Handicap (older horses) and Grade II $300,000 Mervin H. Muniz, Jr. Memorial Handicap (turf males). 





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READ MORE - FAIR GROUNDS FOCUS: Road to Louisiana Derby Day Vol. 1

Regal Minister leads field for Rego Park

January 22, 2015

Najja Thompson
(718) 659 - 2244


Regal Minister leads field for Rego Park

OZONE PARK, N.Y. - The inaugural running of the $125,000 Rego Park Stakes for 3-year-old New York-breds at six furlongs on Saturday at Aqueduct Racetrack - features a field of six sprinters each looking to each establish themselves on the scene this year.

Leading the contenders is Regal Minister, owned by DATTT Stable and trained by Mark Hennig. The chestnut colt by Posse is 2-for-2 in sprints so far in his career and cuts back in distance for the Rego Park following a subpar fifth-place finish in the 1 Mile 70 yards Damon Runyon Stakes at 1 Mile on December 14 at the Big A.  

"He's doing great, and we're happy to be getting him back sprinting," said Hennig. "Sometimes, coming out of a route race, horses tend to rate when returning to sprinting but the instructions won't necessarily be for him to rate. Hopefully that won't be a concern for us." 

Regal Minister is the 9-5 morning-line favorite and will leave from post position 2 with jockey Manuel Franco aboard.

Trainer Rick Violette will enter the promising Deficit Hawk for owners William H. Lawerence and Klaravich Stables. The son of Midnight Lute made his New York-bred debut on January 2 a winning one, traveling four-wide in the upper stretch to earn a one length victory and a Beyer Speed Figure of 80.

At 2-1 on the morning line, Deficit Hawk will depart from post 5 with jockey Kendrick Carmouche in the irons.

Trying dirt for the first time will be Saratoga Dreamer for owner Peter Deutsch and trainer Christophe Clement. The Elusive Quality colt won his debut on the green this past summer at Saratoga before encountering a troubled trip to finish a disappointing eighth in the Grade 2 Summer Stakes on September 13 at Woodbine Racetrack

"He's never run on the dirt before but he's been training very well over it so we are encouraged by that," said Clement. "He is in good order and this race will let us know our future plans for where we want to go from here."

Saratoga Dreamer will leave from post 6 under jockey Junior Alvarado and is 4-1 on the morning line.

Chasing Bubbles, coming off a 1½-length upset victory in the New York Stallion Series on December 28, has turned his career around on the Aqueduct inner track with two wins from three starts for  owners Windhorse Thoroughbreds and trainer Ken McPeek.

The Posse Colt is 6-1 on the morning line from post 4 with Fernando Jara up for the mount.

Rounding out the field are Breakin the Fever, who finished second to Regal Minister in the Notebook Stakes at Aqueduct on November 16, and Drama King for Lady Luck Stable.

The field for the $150,000 Rego Park Stakes:












Breakin the Fever (NY)


O Gomez


D A. Breed





Regal Minister (NY)



M Franco


M A. Hennig





Drama King (NY)



F Jara


R R. Rodriguez





Chasing Bubbles (NY)



I O. Rodriguez


K G. McPeek





Deficit Hawk (NY)



K Carmouche


R A. Violette, Jr.





Saratoga Dreamer (NY)



J Alvarado


C Clement






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