By Brian W. Spencer —-
EFFORT TOPPED FOUR-STAKES FAIR GROUNDS OPENING DAY
NEW ORLEANS (November 18, 2017) – Town and Country Racing’s Al Stall Jr.-trained My Miss Chiff was all class in victory in the $50,000 Happy Ticket Stakes for Louisiana-bred sprint fillies and mares on Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots’ four-stakes Opening Day. Off since a third-place finish in Pimlico’s Grade III Miss Preakness Stakes on May 19, the daughter of Into Mischief showed little rust in a stalk-and-pounce 1¼-length triumph over fellow graded stakes-placed runner Wheatfield, the 3-2 favorite. It was another 1½ lengths back to Look Into My Eyes in third.
Ridden by Mitchell Murrill, My Miss Chiff stopped the clock in 1:10.86 for six furlongs and won for the third time in five starts. She defeated elders for the first time and returned $9.20, $4.20 and $3.40. Wheatfield returned $3.20 and $2.60, while Look Into My Eyes returned $3.60 to show. Stall confirmed after the race that My Miss Chiff will be pointed to the $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Ladies Sprint in three weeks’ time.
“She broke really sharp and had a pretty good trip the whole way around,” Murrill said “Going into the turn, we had a little mix-up going into it, but we overcame it and she turned for home and did her thing like she always does. I didn’t have to push her too much down the lane and had a little horse left in the tank.”
Fairwell Tax Break, Ramona’s Wildcat, Play Unified, Sunny Oak, Jo Jo’s Wine and Half a Go Go completed the order of finish.
Two races later in the $50,000 Heitai Stakes, the boys had their turn in the prep for the $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Sprint. Gabriel Saez guided Hay Hollow Racing Stables’ consistent Howard Alonzo trainee Stand Him Up ($15, $6.40 and $4) to a powerful 2¼-length victory, stopping the clock in 1:10.05 for six furlongs. The effort was in contrast to last year’s Heitai, in which the son of Time Bandit was eased. Hard-knocking rivals Sir Genghis ($4.20 and $3.80) and Grande Basin ($3.60) finished second and third, separated by 1½ lengths at the wire.
“I couldn’t ask for a better trip,” Saez said. “That was really good. The speed went on and he settled. Turning for home, I asked him for everything he had and he gave it to me. That was great.”
Biblical Strength, Made to Fit, John’s Luck, Philly, Eden Grey’s Kitten and Icy Gentleman completed the order of finish.
The $50,000 Si Cima Stakes for fillies and mares and the $50,000 Mr. Sulu Stakes — each for 3-year-olds and upward — showcased Louisiana-bred grass horses going one mile on the Stall-Wilson turf course.
Allied Racing Stable’s Brad Cox-trained Inveniam Viam ($6.40, $4.60 and $2.40) justified her 7-2 morning-line favoritism with a measured one-length victory under Shaun Bridgmohan in the Si Cima. Longshot Pera ($39 and $13.60) was a game second after setting the pace, finishing 1¼ lengths to the good of post-time favorite Dontmesswithjoanne ($2.40) in third. Finishing up in 1:37.84, the win was the daughter of Half Ours’ fifth victory from eight 2017 starts and sets her up properly for the $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Ladies.
“She’s a wonderful filly to ride,” Bridgmohan said. “She’s very reliable and (assistant trainer) Ricky (Giannini) and (trainer) Brad (Cox) have done such a phenomenal job with her. It shows.”
Calamity Jane, Reine des Animaux, Temple Shadow, Vivacious V. V., Pacific Pink, Safari Calamari, Discreetly Grand, Wind Chill Factor and Big Game Baby completed the order of finish.
Kicking off the quartet of stakes was the Mr. Sulu in which Tigertail Ranch’s Danny Pish-trained Fort Pulaski ($9.20, $3.60 and $2.40) overpowered 1-2 favorite Trust Factor ($2.20 and $2.10) in the final furlong, beating said charge by a half-length under a heady ride by Jose Valdivia Jr. and stopping the clock in 1:36.07. It was another neck back to Mageez ($3.20) in third. Breaking an 0-for-8 record on the year, the son of Any Given Saturday now heads for redemption in the $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Turf, a race in which he was a good second in 2016.
“This was extra special having my family here,” Valdivia said. “It’s their first time in the Big Easy and I won a stakes. There’s no better way to start the meet.
“(Fort Pulaski) settled in my hands really well,” Valdivia continued. “He was just waiting to explode. Down the lane he was just looking around and waiting a little bit. Danny Pish really had him ready to run a big race today.”
Extra Credit, Fee Do, Jack Snipe’s, Thunderberg and Culp’s Hill completed 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, LA, 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 146th Thoroughbred Racing Season – highlighted by the 105thrunning of the Louisiana Derby – will run from November 18, 2017 through March 31, 2018. More information can be found online at www.FairGroundsRaceCourse.com.