Saturday, January 17, 2015

Stakes Recap: Grade III Lecomte Stakes

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Contact: Michael Adolphson, Staff Writer, 504.948.1255,


NEW ORLEANS (January 17, 2015) – Owners Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey and trainer Mike Maker made it two consecutive years of Grade III $200,000 Lecomte Stakes glory when their improving colt International Star shot to an impressive 2½-length victory in Saturday’s 71st running of the Fair Grounds Race Course feature.  Ridden patiently in mid-pack through most of the running by Miguel Mena, the son of 2001 Kentucky Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus shifted out at the three-sixteenths pole and closed with authority to defeat Loooch Racing Stables and Chris Dunn’s War Story, who bested Mike McCarty’s Tiznow R J by a head for the place. 

After longshot Hero of Humor (173-1) set the majority of the early pace through fractions of :23.66, :47.07, and 1:13.35, Tiznow R J (4-1) and Another Lemon Drop (7-1) challenged for the lead turning for home.  International Star and War Story soon pounced, with the former winning in a final time of 1:43.62 for the one mile and 70-yard event.  The win improved the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf also-ran’s record to three wins in seven starts, while the $120,000 winner’s share of the purse increased his career earnings to $320,979.  Appropriately for his name, the victory was International Star’s second graded stakes triumph in as many countries after his victory in October’s Grade III Grey Stakes at Woodbine in Canada on its synthetic Polytrack.  It was also the New York-bred’s third win on as many types of surfaces after breaking his maiden on the grass at Belmont Park in his June debut. 

Tom Amoss-trained War Story, with James Graham in the irons, had a rough trip after a slow break, but rallied gamely in what was his second start in 20 days at the New Orleans oval.  Favorites, much like in the Listed $125,000 Silverbulletday Stakes earlier in the card, failed to hit the board with 3-1 favorite Eagle and 7-2 second choice Savoy Stomp running disappointing races.  Eagle, who was five-wide on both turns under Brian Hernandez, Jr., had defeated International Star in their previous race when they were third and fourth, respectively, in the Grade II Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill Downs.  The William S. Farish homebred finished seventh in his first off-the-board result in five starts.  Team Valor International and Southern Equine Stable’s highly regarded Savoy Stomp was never a factor, finishing fifth. 

            Sent off at 9-1, despite carrying the deepest class lines of the 11 competitors, International Star paid $20.40, $8.80 and $5.20. War Story paid $7.20 and $4.60, while Tiznow R J paid $4.20 to show.    

“The plan was to save ground on both turns and then he came out at the three-sixteenths pole and came rolling,” Mena said.  “He was running hard, but he kind of pulled himself up a little at the end when he found himself alone on the lead.”

Maker, who trained the Ramseys’ Vicar’s in Trouble to Lecomte acclaim in 2014 two efforts prior to winning the Grade II Louisiana Derby, was pleased.  “He’s been training very well,” he said.  “We expected a big race – maybe not that big – but he was coming into the race great.  We’ll bring him back to Florida and take a hard look at the (Grade II $400,000) Risen Star (on Feb. 21).”

            Graham was optimistic about his mount’s future prospects after such a keen performance on short rest.  “He did what we asked him to do,” the meet-leading jockey said.  “We haven’t got to the bottom of him yet.  The trip was rough at the start – I got slammed twice, but after that he settled into the race for me.”

            Hernandez was not as satisfied with the outcome.  “Nothing was smooth about the trip,” he said.  “He was on the far outside and then got slammed by the horse that was running off.  Nothing went right today.”

            Another Lemon Drop finished fourth, with Savoy Stomp, Hero of Humor, Eagle, Dekabrist, Runhappy, Killingit and Four Leaf Chief completing the order of finish.

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




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