By Michael Adolphson —-
• Local Hero, Senior Investment Work Toward Louisiana Derby
• Chocolate Ride’s Plans Still in Limbo
• Swimsuit Issue Impresses on Debut
• Rapid Rhythm Back to Work
LOCAL HERO, SENIOR INVESTMENT WORK TOWARD LOUISIANA DERBY
Steve Asmussen trainee Local Hero continues to impress in the mornings. The local maiden winner who was third last out in the Grade II $400,000 Risen Star Stakes on Feb. 25 drilled on Monday morning in 1:01 flat for five furlongs, earning the bullet for owners e Five Racing Thoroughbreds. According to connections, he has been confirmed to run back in the 1 1/8-miles Grade II $1,000,000 Twinspires.com Louisiana Derby on Apr. 1 and regular jockey Florent Geroux will likely have the mount.
A $500,000 Fasig-Tipton purchase one year ago this month, the grand-looking son of Hard Spun demolished maiden foes in a mile and 70-yard event on Jan. 26 by a facile 7¼ lengths. Left in his wake that day was next-out victor Blueridge Traveler, who is well-regarded by trainer Kenny McPeek. In the Risen Star, Geroux allowed the dark bay Kentucky-bred to run freely on the lead — at one point opening up six lengths — but the collective class of winner Girvin and runner-up Untrapped proved too much for him in the final quarter mile. Still, the talented and lightly raced sophomore held on for third by a neck over graded stakes winner Guest Suite.
Also on the tab for the Louisiana Derby on Monday morning was Fern Circle Stables’ Senior Investment. The chestnut son of Discreetly Mine worked a half-mile in a sharp 48.60 for trainer McPeek and is looking to move forward off a three-length victory in allowance company at Oaklawn Park on Feb. 18.
CHOCOLATE RIDE’S PLANS STILL IN LIMBO
GenStar Thoroughbreds’ Chocolate Ride is looking for a race, according to trainer Brad Cox. The multiple graded stakes winner over the Stall-Wilson turf course passed on the Grade III $125,000 Fair Grounds Handicap on Feb. 25 to look for a confidence boost over softer competition, but his connections have yet to find a spot for him. A winner of the Grade II $300,000 Muniz Memorial two years ago, the son of Candy Ride (Arg) remains possible to run in said spot for the third consecutive year on Apr. 1.
A terror on the Stall-Wilson, the 7-year-old gelding has six victories over the local grass, but has lost his last two starts by a combined three lengths — a neck fourth in the $75,000 Diliberto Memorial on Dec. 17 and a third, beaten 2¾ lengths, in the Grade III $125,000 Col. E. R. Bradley Handicap while carrying top weight on Jan. 21.
SWIMSUIT ISSUE IMPRESSES ON DEBUT
The most impressive maiden victor of the week was easily Swimsuit Issue, from the always dangerous Tom Proctor barn. Closing from 10 lengths astern in her Mar. 10 heat, the Glen Hill Farm-owned daughter of the late Scat Daddy closed like a rocket to tag favorite Tiger Eyes in the final strides under Sophie Doyle.
The bay filly came to Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots fresh off a series of blistering works over the Tampa Bay Downs surface, including a bullet five furlongs on Feb. 15 in 1:00.40. She was sent off at 5-1.
“It was impressive,” said assistant trainer Lindsay Schultz. “A first-time starter and going short on the dirt is never easy and she showed her stuff. We knew she would take more time as a 2-year-old, so we took her to the (Ocala, Florida) farm and then to Tampa after that.
“She’s doing great and came out well,” Schultz continued. “We are probably going to stay here with her until we leave and then it’s likely either Keeneland or Laurel.”
Swimsuit Issue is out of the Out of Place mare Cover Girl Elle and hails from the family of solid graded stakes turf horse Out of Control, Iowa Derby winner Swingforthefences and multiple stakes-winning Pacific Northwest star Poker Brad.
RAPID RHYTHM BACK TO WORK
Robert S. Evans’ multiple stakes winner Rapid Rhythm returned to the work tab for the first time since taking the $75,000 Mardi Gras Stakes on Feb. 28 when a five-furlong move in 50.40 for trainer Mike Stidham. The daughter of Successful Appeal was initially going to be retired and bred to Evans’ classic-winning multiple Grade I victor Tonalist after the Mardi Gras, but her performance was so strong it convinced her connections to keep her in training for the time being.
The immediate goal for the streaking dark bay is the Listed $100,000 Giant’s Causeway Stakes on Apr. 15 at Keeneland going the same 5½ grassy furlongs of her three consecutive stakes wins. If she does not race at Fair Grounds Race Course and Slots again, Rapid Rhythm will have finished her New Orleans tenure a perfect 5-for-5 over the Stall-Wilson turf course.