By Michael Adolphson —-
COX TRIO TOPS TOUGH TENACIOUS RENEWAL; RUNNING MATE LOOKS TO SWEETEN CAMPAIGN IN SUGAR BOWL; GOLDEN MISCHIEF LOOKS TO MAKE AMENDS IN LETELLIER
NEW ORLEANS (December 13, 2016) – Trainer Brad Cox entered three of the 12 horses in Saturday’s $75,000 Tenacious Stakes over a mile and 70 yards on Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots’ main track and appears extremely tough to beat in the event for 3-year-olds and upward. Most familiar of his three is Steve Landers Racing’s Dazzling Gem, who was briefly on the Triple Crown trail earlier this year on the strength of a third-place finish in the Grade II Twinspires.com Louisiana Derby and credible fourth in the Grade I Arkansas Derby. The son of Misremembered was given five months off after a third in the $100,000 Sir Barton Stakes at Pimlico on May 21, returning to form last out in a second-level allowance at Churchill Downs going 1 1/16 miles. Joe Rocco, Jr., aboard for the first time that day, has the return call.
Cox also has Marc Detampel’s Western Reserve (Francisco Torres, post four) and Ten Strike Racing’s Financial Modeling (Shaun Bridgmohan, post three), each recent acquisitions. The latter was a stakes winner last December in the $100,000 Queen’s County for previous conditioner Chad Brown before finishing fifth of eight in the Grade I Donn Handicap. In three starts for Cox since being acquired, he is winless, but was a good second in a third-level allowance last out at Keeneland.
Western Reserve was recently acquired out of the Keeneland November 2016 Breeding Stock Sale for $87,000 and has been cross-entered in $75,000 Buddy Diliberto Memorial over the turf. Previously in the care of Bill Mott for his previous eight starts, the son of Indian Charlie raced in Europe under Lady Jane Cecil for breeder Juddmonte Farms to begin his 14-race career. The 4-year-old gelding has been working well over the local dirt, posting two consecutive half-mile drills leading into Saturday.
The one-two finishers from the $250,000 Delta Mile — separated by a head — return to do battle against a tougher field in the Tenacious. Troy Williams’ Keith Bourgeois-trained Hesinfront (Robby Albarado, post nine) got up in the final stride to snag the winner’s purse from Vince Wilfork’s Al Stall, Jr.-trained Great Minds (C. J. McMahon, post two) that day, more than paying for his $62,500 claiming price two races prior. Great Minds has been admirably versatile throughout his career for Stall, while zeroing in on two-turn main track miles in 2016, winning three of six. Kathleen Amaya and Raffaele Centofanti’s $100,000 Evangeline Mile winner Fear the Cowboy (Luis Negron, post 11) also returns Saturday for trainer Efren Loza, Jr.
Honorable Duty (James Graham, rail), Raagheb (Mitchell Murrill, post five), Tale of Verve (Brian Hernandez, Jr., post seven), The Truth Or Else (Florent Geroux, post eight), For Greater Glory (Gabriel Saez, post 10) and Rocket Time (Colby Hernandez, post 12) complete the field.
In other stakes action, Bret Jones’ Running Mate has been nothing short of dominant in two career starts, including a local 7¾-length allowance romp on Nov. 25, and returns for another six-furlong heat when making his stakes debut in Saturday’s exciting renewal of the $50,000 Sugar Bowl Stakes at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots. The Larry Jones trainee tops the unofficial start to the local Triple Crown trail with the son of Creative Cause and Street Cry (IRE) mare Street Mate. Gabriel Saez has the return call from post five of six aspiring freshman.
One of his two main rivals will be wearing the same orange and green silks in Tom Proctor-trained Keep Talking (Robby Albarado, post two), who is owned by Bret’s father and former Kentucky governor Brereton C. Jones. A dominant winner of a local maiden heat over this trip, the son of Ghostzapper has every license to move forward for his patient connections.
DARRS Inc.’s Proforma (Florent Geroux, post six) represents defending meet champion trainer Mike Stidham’s burgeoning barn. The chestnut son of Munnings broke his maiden last out at Churchill Downs at this trip, closing stoutly from mid-pack to prevail by a neck in a sharp 1:10 flat.
Divine Kaleb (C. J. McMahon, rail), Monday Pirate (Andre Worrie, post three) and At Your Word (Francisco Torres, post four) complete the Sugar Bowl’s 66th renewal.
The $75,000 Letellier Memorial for juvenile fillies over six furlongs features a rematch of the 1-2-3 finishers from October’s $100,000 My Trusty Cat Stakes at Delta Downs, topped by Corrine and L. William Heiligbrodt’s victorious Golden Mischief. Trained by Steve Asmussen, the daughter of top 2016 juvenile stud Into Mischief returned as the 5-2 favorite in the Grade III Delta Princess last out on Nov. 19 and failed to factor, ending a three-race winning streak. David Flores rides from post seven in the eight-filly field.
Wayne R. Sanders and Larry Hirsch’s Bret Calhoun-trained Flatter Up (C. J. McMahon, post five) and Twin Creeks Racing and Head of Plains Partners’ Mike Stidham-trained Forest Circle (Florent Geroux, post eight) — second and third in the My Trusty Cat — each also ran in the Delta Princess, finishing third and fifth, respectively. They return for their formidable connections to try to earn their first stakes victories.
Two impressive winners over the course and distance, Keith Plaisance’s Michelle Lovell-trained Taleoftheprincess (Colby Hernandez, post six) and DARRS Inc.’s Stidham-conditioned R Naja (Miguel Mena, post two) each exit gate-to-wire wins and add depth to an intriguing renewal of the final open stakes for juvenile fillies at the New Orleans oval.
Mr. Al’s Gal (Michael Wright, III, rail), Hotshot Anna (James Graham, post three) and Whole Scoop (Robby Albarado, post four) complete the field.
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 Market: CHDN); it also operates a slot-machine gaming facility and 11 off-track betting parlors throughout southeast Louisiana. The 145th Thoroughbred Racing Season – highlighted by the 104th running of the Louisiana Derby – will run from November 2016 through April 2017. More information can be found online at www.FairGroundsRaceCourse.com.