Friday, November 21, 2014

Barn Notes: Friday, November 21


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Barn Notes:  Friday, November 21, 2014                                                                                       

·        Leading Owner Moss Ready for More

·        Maryland-based Jockey Boyce Headed to Fair Grounds

·        Heitai out of Thanksgiving, to Focus on 2015 Breeders’ Cup





                Maggi Moss’s throng of thoroughbreds returns to the Fair Grounds for the 2014-15 season one year after it began a phenomenal show at the historic New Orleans sports complex – completing a tetrad of consecutive owner’s titles for the longtime racing supporter.  With trainer Tom Amoss at the helm, Moss’s band of racehorses played themselves into the winner’s enclosure an impressive 30% of the time, with 21 wins in 69 starts and earnings of $520,169 – good for second behind Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey’s Louisiana Derby-abetted $1,017,657.  Equally as impressive, Moss charges found themselves hitting the board 65% of the time and doing so at a variety of different class levels. 


“It’s great to win, but I don’t really think about titles,” Moss reflected.  “I try to focus more on quality over quantity.”


That being said, quality has definitely been in growing quantity for the Des Moines-based semi-retired barrister – including talented graded stakes horses like sprinter Delaunay and miler Grand Contender - two older horses expected to make starts at the Fair Grounds before year’s end.  Moss, who has finished in the Top 10 owners nationally in earnings and wins over the last eight years, holds those two charges near and dear to her heart.


“Delaunay and Grand Contender are just the coolest horses,” she explained.  “I look forward to seeing them up close and personal more than actually running them.  To me, these horses give so much; it’s pretty amazing.  They are really majestic animals and have been so good to me.  I would love to see Grand Contender this weekend, but I won’t be able to.  Delaunay is making his comeback on Thanksgiving.” 


Both under the tutelage of Amoss, Grand Contender is entered to run Saturday in the $250,000 Delta Mile Stakes at Delta Downs and Delaunay is expected to contest the Listed $60,000 Thanksgiving Handicap at the Fair Grounds on Nov. 27 – a race he won in 2012.  Collectively, the 6- and 7-year-old have earned nearly $1.6 million and won 24 of 71 starts – including finishing first or second in seven of eight Fair Grounds starts under Moss’s ownership.


“When I started in racing in my first years at the Fair Grounds, it was pretty magical and I’ve supported it for about 15 years,” Moss reminisced.  “I’m looking at supporting Fair Grounds (this year) and hoping to recapture some of that magic.”


                A proverbial straight shooter who seems to balance a realistic perspective of the present with an unwavering ardor and optimism for the future of racing, Moss looks forward to seeing her horses compete and visiting the New Orleans area. 


“I simply love New Orleans.  It’s probably my favorite city,” she concluded.  “It’s just such a great time when I’m there and I hope to get there soon.”





                Maryland-based jockey Forest Boyce – a winner of multiple graded stakes, nearly $14 million in purses and 480 wins over the last six seasons – will shift her tack from the Mid-Atlantic to the Fair Grounds next week and be represented by recently retired Rosie Napravnik’s former agent Derek Ducoing.  Boyce, like Napravnik, comes from a long line of Maryland-based female jockeys to develop under the tutelage of late conditioner Richard “Dickie” Small in the early parts of their careers and then move on to bigger and better accomplishments. 


“It came about all of a sudden,” Boyce explained.  “I was talking to Rosie and kind of discussing the possibility of coming down there and I decided to do it at the last minute.  I guess the main reason I thought it was a good idea was because Maryland goes to three days a week in the winter and (Fair Grounds) runs a bunch.  There are also a lot of good horses and great trainers.”


The 2014-15 meet will not be Boyce’s first experience with the Fair Grounds.  “Years ago I was in college and working for Dickie and would go down and work horses for him,” she explained.  “It’s been a long time since then, but I’m excited to do it again and am somewhat familiar with the track.  I ride at Churchill Downs on Saturday and then drive straight down to New Orleans from there.”


                Boyce rides talented turf stakes filly Nellie Cashman – among many stakes runners in Boyce’s rolodex – in the Grade III $100,000 Cardinal Handicap at Churchill on Saturday.  A multiple graded stakes-placed performer this year under the Maryland native’s handling, Nellie Cashman recently won an allowance at Laurel and was third two starts back in the Grade II Ballston Spa Stakes at Saratoga.


“I am looking forward to all of it – from the track to the city.  I can’t wait to see how the turf course is, too.  It looks like there’s a lot to do around there and I’ll try not to eat too much,” Boyce laughed in conclusion.




Rowell Enterprises’ Louisiana-bred Heitai will not compete in next Thursday’s Listed $60,000 Thanksgiving Handicap and will instead aim toward an allowance race this Sunday at the Fair Grounds, according to trainer Karl Broberg.  Arguably one of the fastest sprinters in the country, the 4-year-old son of Fusaichi Pegasus has won seven of nine races in 2014 and $498,600 in earnings – including three stakes. 


“He’s doing really well right now, but we’re going to end up running in the allowance as opposed to the Thanksgiving Day handicap because it just seems like it’s the best one for him,” Broberg explained.  “We want to keep him in as many state-bred races as we can and when we do take our shots against open company, we want it to be at or around five-furlongs on the turf.  He’s as good as any horse at that trip.”


                Said prowess was on display three starts back when the bay gelding dismantled a quality field in the inaugural running of the $300,000 Evangeline Turf Sprint at Evangeline Downs.  Quickly exerting his dominance through a quarter in :21.28, the 11-time winner was never threatened and won comfortably by 3¾ lengths.


“With the (Grade I $1,000,000) Breeders’ Cup (Turf Sprint) next year at Keeneland, they go five furlongs or so and that’s our current dream trip.  It is definitely something we’ll look at seriously,” Broberg continued.  “We’ll start in the Sunday allowance, then go to Louisiana Champions Day (Dec. 13) and after that it’ll hopefully be a series of turf sprints.  There are a couple at the Fair Grounds we’d like to be in.”


Broberg is not shy when speaking the praises of his swiftest pupil.  “Not only have I never had one as fast as him, I’ve only seen one or two as fast as he is going a half-mile,” he concluded.  “He’s as fast as they come to that point – including all the great sprinters.”


Heitai is listed at 4-5 on the morning line for Sunday’s third race.  He breaks from post four in the eight-horse field and is scheduled to carry regular pilot Diego Saenz in the six-furlong Louisiana-bred dirt allowance/optional claiming event.


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