Saturday, December 20, 2014

Barn Notes: Saturday, December 20


                        Contact: Michael Adolphson

Mobile: (202) 716-7046

Press Box: (504) 948-1255


Barn Notes:  Saturday, December 20, 2014                                                                                   

·        Catalano Entering West Duo in Woodchopper

·        Agent Di Nozzo Looking Tough in Tenacious

·        Eagle Works toward Lecomte

·        Grand Contender Easily Wins Diliberto




            Trainer Wayne Catalano knows how to win a stakes race or two and next Saturday the multiple Breeders’ Cup-winning conditioner will attack the $60,000 Woodchopper Stakes with two Gary and Mary West-owned colts – well regarded Highball and graded stakes winner Poker Player. 


“We’re going to enter and run both Highball and Poker Player,” Catalano confirmed.  “They both look good and are training really well.  (Jockey James) Graham will be on Highball and I’m still looking for a rider for Poker Player.”


Highball has been well thought of since an impressive maiden win at second asking in June at Churchill Downs.  That effort earned him a shot in the Grade III $200,000 American Derby, in which he finished third, and then the Grade I $500,000 Secretariat Stakes – a race that was arguably his best performance when finishing a respectable fifth to Coolmore’s subsequent Group I Cox Plate victor Adelaide.  Since then the son of Lemon Drop Kid won a rich allowance at Kentucky Downs and then was a gaining fourth in the Grade III Commonwealth Turf at Churchill Downs.


Poker Player, on the other hand, was an early developing juvenile who won the Grade III $150,000 Bourbon Stakes en route to an eighth-place finish in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf in 2013.  This year, the son of the late Harlan’s Holiday has made only three starts – all in stakes – with his lone on-the-board finish being a second in the Listed $100,000 John Battaglia Memorial Stakes.  Unraced since a sixth-place finish in the Grade III $200,000 Lexington Stakes at Keeneland on April 19, he has been working well locally. 


“We’re not too worried about the time off,” Catalano said.  “He’s a good horse and we’ve been pointing toward the race.”




Robert and Lawana Low’s Agent Di Nozzo’s looks to return to his winning ways in Sunday’s $50,000 Tenacious Stakes for trainer Steve Margolis and has been training very well over the Fair Grounds surface leading into what will be his second race off a 10-month layoff.  The 5-year-old Ghostzapper gelding returned on Nov. 22 to finish a game second in the Listed $250,000 Delta Mile behind Sunbean. 


“He’s doing really good and everything is going well leading into the race,” Margolis reported.  “He ran a big race at Delta and we have given him a couple maintenance works over the track to get him ready.  He’s training well and I'm happy with him.  It’s a solid group but he broke his maiden here and really travels well over this surface.”


The bay charge’s career has been a consistent one, including hitting the board in 14 of 20 starts and winning two stakes for his connections.  In January, though, things did not go as planned for the colt when he was a lackluster fourth in the Listed $100,000 Louisiana Handicap. 


“He just wasn’t himself,” Margolis explained.  “He had not had a real break from training since the beginning of his career and he was just tired and needed one.  There were no surgeries or anything, it just took him a while to come back and they also gave him a little extra time (at the farm).”


            Agent Di Nozzo was third in last year’s Tenacious behind Prayer for Relief and has been established as this year’s 7-2 morning line favorite.  Miguel Mena picks up the ride from post four. 





            William S. Farish’s Eagle continued his preparation for the Grade III $200,000 Lecomte Stakes on Jan. 17 on Saturday morning with a good five-furlong move on the main track in 1:01.60 for trainer Neil Howard. 


            “It wasn’t anything earth-shattering,” Howard said.  “He worked after the break in 1:01 and three and galloped out in fourteen and three.  We’re trying to hold onto what we have right now with him while still moving him forward and not push him too hard.  We know that once we get to January 17th there are no breaks.”


The son of Candy Ride is coming off a good third in the Grade II $200,000 Kentucky Jockey Club on Nov. 29 and has won two of his four starts while never finishing worse than third.





            Maggi Moss’ Grand Contender had little more than a $50,000 workout on Friday afternoon in the Buddy Diliberto Memorial Stakes at Fair Ground Race Course, albeit a very wet one.  The son of Strong Contender jumped out of his four-post in the field of four first and never looked back while coasting to a 1 ½-length victory under Francisco Torres.  The Tom Amoss trainee finished the 1 1/16-miles event in a time of 1:44.84 to post his fifth career stakes win. 


            The Diliberto was a return to the winner’s circle for the bay 7-year-old gelding after three consecutive losses in stakes company.  The win was his fourth of 2014 from nine starts and his ninth in 26 career starts.  The $32,500 winner’s share increased his career earnings to $615,610.  He paid $3 and $2.10 as the 1-2 favorite. 


            Second was Louie Roussel III’s game Treasury Bill, who was making his first start for his new owner/trainer under Florent Geroux.  Rounding out the field was Jim Tafel’s All Stormy and Charles Fipke’s Golden Soul. 






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.