Thursday, December 18, 2014

Barn Notes: Thursday, December 18


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Barn Notes:  Thursday, December 18, 2014                                                                                   

·        Cassatt Using Sunday’s Tiffany Lass as Springboard to 2015

·        Villandry Takes Aim on Fair Grounds Turf Series

·        Too Dim to Get Short Break

·        Gold Hawk Works Well, No Plans Yet




            Fox Hill Farm’s Cassatt came out of her facile 4½-length victory in the $300,000 Zia Park Oaks on Nov. 26 no worse for the wear and is set to race in Sunday’s $50,000 Tiffany Lass at Fair Grounds Race Course in what could be a launching point for a promising 2015 campaign.  On Tuesday morning, the Kentucky-bred worked a strong five furlongs in 1:01.20 for conditioner Larry Jones.


“She worked well,” Jones said.  “We entered her for Sunday here in the Tiffany Lass.  It sets it up for the ($400,000) Houston Ladies Classic.  When they put the (Tiffany Lass) back in, it made the timing perfect coming out of the Zia Park Oaks.  It is almost dead-center and works really good for us.”


Hopes have always been high for the enviably bred two-time stakes winner – including the Grade III Monmouth Oaks in August.  A daughter of superstar sire Tapit, she hails from the immediate family of champions Kitten’s Joy and Dreaming of Anna, as well as Grade I winner Precious Kitten and Grade II winners Lewis Michael and Justenuffhumor  At auction the spirited gray filly cost $300,000.


           “She’s doing really well,” Jones continued.  “The (Zia Park Oaks) didn’t seem like it was super-taxing on her.  She still needs some experience.  When she is hooking up with these older horses, she still is a little bit lightly raced for a (soon to be) 4-year-old.  Another practice race isn’t going to hurt her.”



            Gainesway Stable’s graded turf stakes winner Villandry has taken aim on the triad of graded turf stakes at Fair Grounds Race Course, according to trainer Charles LoPresti.  The 5-year-old homebred gelding exits a career-best performance when powering clear of the field by nearly three lengths in the Grade III River City Handicap at Churchill Downs over nine grassy furlongs on Nov. 8. On Monday, the son of Mr. Greeley put in his first local work, a leisurely five furlongs in 1:02.80. 


            “He’s doing really well,” LoPresti said.  “A lot of my horses get the winter off, so I sent him to (trainer) David Carroll (at Fair Grounds).  (Gainesway principal) Mr. Beck wanted to go on with him and I’ve been in direct contact with David.  We’re going to run in the (Grade III $100,000) Colonel (E. R.) Bradley Stakes (on Jan. 17) and take it from there.  As long as he continues to do well, we’ll keep him down there and move on to the other stakes.”


            Like many of the famous geldings in the LoPresti barn, Villandry showed talent at a young age, but has really come into his own in the later years of his career.  A five-time winner, the River City was his first in a graded stakes after finishing a good third in the Grade III Sycamore Stakes at Keeneland and a respectable fourth in both the Grade I Northern Dancer Stakes at Woodbine and Grade II Firecracker Stakes at Churchill Downs.


“He’s been a really good horse this year,” LoPresti continued.  “He didn’t get beat by far in the Northern Dancer or in the Firecracker and he’s coming along the right way.    Hopefully it pans out for us.”


The 1 1/16-miles Bradley is followed by the Grade III $125,000 Fair Grounds Handicap at 1 1/8-miles on Feb. 21 and ultimately the centerpiece of the meet for turf horses, the Grade II $300,000 Mervin H. Muniz, Jr. Memorial Handicap on Louisiana Derby Day, March 28, at the same distance. 





            Five-year-old gelding Too Dim made quite the name for himself after his impossible victory last Saturday in the $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Sprint.  The son of Mutakddim overcame being left at the gate – losing nearly seven lengths – to win the six-furlong event at the wire by a neck over big favorite Heitai.  The victory may have earned William Deckwa, Jr.’s stable star a little relaxation time, according to conditioner Eddie Johnston. 


“He came out of it perfect,” Johnston said.  “He has run three times in six weeks, so we just have given him a whole week of walking.  We’ll give him a break of about 20-30 days. You don’t want to take on Heitai short on the grass (in the $60,000 Bonapaw Stakes on Jan. 3) and some of the other stakes are too long, so we’ll look for something here at the Fair Grounds after he gets a little rest.”


            Johnston is still taken aback by the performance of the earner of $283,312.  “It was quite a performance.  It made me a little famous,” he said with a laugh.  “I’ve been on the radio and everything.  He’s such a good horse.”


            Though he is to get a short rest, the majority of Too Dim’s races will most likely come in the cooler months.  Moments after his big win on Saturday, the conditioner stated that the summer is too hot for the charge and he thrives in the cool weather of the Fair Grounds thoroughbred meet’s months. 



            Winchell Thoroughbreds’ highly regarded Gold Hawk continues to work very well in the mornings at Fair Grounds Race Course toward a 2015 debut.  The son of two champions – Empire Maker and Caressing – was last seen racing June 28 when finishing up the track in a Churchill Downs allowance for trainer Steve Asmussen.  Earlier in his career, the $450,000 Keeneland September 2012 purchase showed considerable promise, including an excellent allowance win at the New Orleans oval about one year ago, before finishing third in the Grade III Lecomte Stakes and fifth in the Grade II Louisiana Derby.


            “Nothing specific is planned for him yet,” said David Fiske, racing manager for Winchell Thoroughbreds.  “We just want to get him back going.  He had a little downtime at the farm and we took a chip out of an ankle and removed an undescended testicle that might’ve been bothering him.  We’ll take our time with him.”


            On Monday, Gold Hawk put in a keen five-furlong work – the fourth work since rejoining the Asmussen Fair Grounds string – in 1:01.40.  The move was good enough for third-best of 28 at the distance.






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