Friday, December 5, 2014

Barn Notes: Friday, December 5



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Barn Notes:  Friday, December 5, 2014                                                                                          

·        General Election Works Toward Return

·        Graham Maintaining Momentum

·        Pessin High on Scatter Gun





Hill ‘N Dale Farm’s multiple graded stakes winner General Election continued his comeback earlier this week with an easy half-mile work in :52.20 for trainer Neil Pessin.  The son of Harlan’s Holiday was completing his second work since a hiccup in his training forced him to the sidelines in August while under the tutelage of Chris Block.  The winner of the Grade III Jefferson Cup and Grade III Arlington Classic – both in 2013 – has had only one race the entirety of 2014, a lackluster sixth in a high-level allowance optional claiming event at Arlington International Racecourse in July.


“He’s had a couple breezes recently, but we are taking it slowly with him,” Pessin explained.  “There’s no rush and nothing wrong with him right now.  We may even back off a little bit.  We just gelded him, so he’s a little calmer now.  The big goal – if he’s good enough – is the (Grade II $400,000 Mervin H.) Muniz (Memorial Handicap).”


Purchased by Hill ‘N Dale principal Richard L. Duchossois at Keeneland’s November Sale in 2013 for $450,000 after his Jefferson Cup victory, the bay has made three career starts at Fair Grounds Race Course, including an unplaced showing as the favorite in last year’s Woodchopper Stakes.  All of his victories have come with former trainer Kellyn Gorder and owner WinStar Farm.




            Jockey James Graham continues his torrid pace atop the rider standings at Fair Grounds Race Course and as of the end of Thursday’s card had an eight-win lead over Miguel Mena with 19 victories.  His 28% strike rate leads all riders and his 57% in-the-money rate is second only to Mena’s 58%. 


            Graham’s 214 victories on the year have him in 12th-place nationally; one spot ahead of Joel Rosario (210) and one behind locally based Richard Eramia (219), who is currently sidelined with a shoulder injury.  Thursday’s card saw the third time so far this season that a jockey has won three or more races and all three were, not surprisingly, Graham.



            Catching many onlookers’ eyes in the morning training hours at Fair Grounds Race Course has been a statuesque filly by the name of Scatter Gun.  Though not a winner yet, the tall juvenile filly was an excellent second in her debut in August at Arlington International Racecourse – beating highly regarded subsequent Keeneland allowance winner Prado’s Sweet Ride in the process.  That effort – at the unenviable first-out distance of seven furlongs – came after a wide trip that saw the dark bay charge deliberately close, despite appearing slightly green.


“I’m really high on her,” said trainer Neil Pessin.  “I almost ran her in a race at Kentucky Downs in September, but gave her more time.  I want her to concentrate a little better.”


A daughter of star sire Scat Daddy out of the unraced Holy Bull mare Above It, Scatter Gun was bred in Kentucky by WinStar Farm and is owned by Lothenbach Stables.  Before she even commenced her career in August, she had created enough buzz around her in the mornings to go off at 3-1 in her debut in a field of 10.


“We bought her as a yearling for $180,000 at Keeneland,” Pessin said.  “She’s really well put together and very athletic. I think she’ll be a nice filly and will love two turns.  I was going to run her short on the grass to get her started, but decided to work with her some more.”


Pessin knows his way around a talented filly.  Also in his barn for the Lothenbachs is the multiple stakes-winning Eden Prairie who was back to work on Friday morning negotiating a half-mile in :49.20 in her first work since finishing third in the $200,000 Treasure Chest Stakes at Delta Downs on Nov. 22. 


A winner of three of her five Fair Grounds starts, Eden Prairie won last year’s Pago Hop Stakes in December at a grassy mile before defeating a talented field that included the likes of graded stakes winner Starstruck in the Marie Krantz Memorial Handicap in January over a half-furlong more.  The daughter of Mizzen Mast is possible for a defense of the Krantz on Jan. 17.


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