By Ryan Martin —-
THE PLAYER SLATED AS 3-1 MORNING LINE FAVORITE FOR $75,000 LOUISIANA STAKES;
ATTFIELD SENDS MULTIPLE GRADED STAKES WINNER TOWER OF TEXAS FOR COLONEL E.R. BRADLEY
NEW ORLEANS (January 10, 2018) – The local preps on Churchill Downs’ Road to The Kentucky Derby and Road To The Kentucky Oaks will begin kicking into high gear this Saturday, Jan. 13 as a part of the Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots’ Road to the Derby Kickoff Day presented by Hotel Monteleone, but the Fair Grounds will offer four other stakes events as a apart of an action packed card for Saturday, Jan. 13.
The 3-1 morning line favorite for the event is The Player who is owned by trainer William “Buff” Bradley and Carl Hurst. Breaking from post five under Hall of Fame rider Calvin Borel, the son of Street Hero will be seeking redemption following a lack luster fifth in Churchill Downs’ Gr. I Clark Handicap on Nov. 24 where he was beaten seven lengths behind Seeking the Soul. Prior to his most recent effort, he scored a graded stakes win over a sloppy main track at Keeneland in the Gr. II Fayette Stakes on Oct. 28.
Eleven others will enter the starting gate for the Louisiana Stakes including last year’s winner Hawaakom, who will be in search of his first trip to the winner’s circle since last year’s edition of the race. If the 8-year-old son of Jazil wishes to defend his title, he will have to overcome a four-month layoff as he has not seen racing action since the Gr. III Greenwood Cup Stakes at Parx Racing on Sept. 4. He does, however, boast a 9-3-1-2 record over the New Orleans oval. Aside from last year’s Louisiana Stakes, his other two Fair Grounds triumphs took place when he broke his maiden all the way back in December 2012 at odds of 36-1 and when defeating allowance company in January 2016 in a race that included 2014 Kentucky Derby runner-up Commanding Curve. He is owned by trainer Wesley Hawley in partnership with Stephan A Smoot and will break from the rail under Miguel Mena at odds of 12-1.
Current Fair Grounds leading trainer Brad Cox will send a Steve Landers Racing LLC-owned pair for the Louisiana Stakes – Leofric (post three, Corey Lanerie, 8-1) and Dazzling Gem (post ten, Shaun Bridgmohan, 9-2). A 5-year-old son of Candy Ride (Arg.), Leofric was third in the Tenacious Stakes last out, which was his first start since an allowance victory at Oaklawn Park on Apr. 15 of last year, which also was his third straight win. Like his stable mate, Dazzling Gem’s last outing also took place coming from well off the bench. The 5-year-old son of Misremembered was second beaten a head behind Dan The Go To Man last out in Remington Park’s Jeffrey A. Hawk Memorial Stakes on Dec. 17. The narrow miss at the Oklahoma oval was his first start since a fourth-place finish in Oaklawn Park’s Essex Stakes on Mar. 18 of last year. Dazzling Gem participated in the Fair Grounds stakes program available for older horses on the dirt last year, but was second behind Hawaakom in last year’s Louisiana Stakes and was third beaten half-length behind Honorable Duty and 2015 Louisiana Derby winner International Star.
Trainer Mike Stidham will look for another stakes win with Godolphin Racing LLC’s Cedartown (post four, Joe Bravo, 10-1) after taking last year’s Zia Park Derby on Nov. 22. The regally-bred son of Candy Ride (Arg.) is a half-brother to graded stakes winner Danzing Candy and was a $620,000 purchase at the 2016 Fasig-Tipton Two-Year-Olds In Training Sale in Florida. Cedartown broke his maiden at third asking by 5¼ lengths over the Monmouth Park main track and has never finished worse than second in six career starts.
Valentin Bukhtoyarov and Evgeny Kappushev’s seasoned veteran Cooptado (Arg.) will seek another stakes win over the Fair Grounds main track after taking the Tenacious Stakes on Dec. 16. Trained by Tom Morley, the 8-year-old son of Equal Stripes (Arg.) will break from post eight at 8-1 odds under Declan Cannon. The Tenacious Stakes was Cooptado’s first victory since winning the Longines Singapore Gold Cup (Sin-I) in Nov. 2015.
Rounding out the Louisiana Stakes field are graded stakes winner Rated R Superstar (post two, Brian Hernandez, Jr., 12-1), dirt marathon specialist and multiple graded stakes winner Scuba (post six, Julien Leparoux, 10-1), Golden Gate invader Seattle Serenade (post seven, Javier Castellano, 12-1), stakes-placed Shut The Box (post nine, Florent Geroux, 8-1), four-time winner December Seven (post ten, James Graham, 12-1) and last year’s Gr. III LeComte winner Guest Suite (post 11, Robby Albarado, 15-1).
Other stakes events include the $125,000 Colonel E.R Bradley Stakes, a mile-and-a-sixteenth event for 4-year-olds and upward on the Stall-Wilson Turf Course. Thomas F. Van Meter II and Scott Dilworth’s Tower of Texas is the lukewarm 7-2 morning line favorite for the event and breaks from post five under Florent Geroux.
The 7-year-old son of Street Sense enters the turf event off of a third place finish in Gulfstream Park’s Gr. III Tropical Turf Stakes where he was beaten a length behind stable mate Shakimat and Galton (post three, Javier Castellano, 5-1). He is a multiple stakes winner in his native Ontario having taken the 2015 Gr. II King Edward Stakes over the Woodbine lawn and the Gr. II Connaught Cup Stakes at the Toronto oval. Two starts ago he won the non-graded Labeeb Stakes at Woodbine on Nov. 4. He is trained by Roger Attfield.
Riverside Bloodstock LLC’s Dimension (GB) will make his first start as a 10-year-old in the Colonel E.R. Bradley Stakes. Last out, the iron horse found the winner’s circle in over a year when he won the Buddy Diliberto Memorial over the Stall-Wilson Turf Course for trainer Conor Murphy. In 2015, he secured two graded stakes wins over the Woodbine turf – the Connaught Cup and the King Edward Stakes, both Gr. II events. He will be ridden by James Graham and will break from the rail at 8-1 odds.
Completing the field are multiple graded stakes winner Avanzare (post two, Adam Beschizza, 12-1), stakes winner Monster Bea (post four, John Velazquez, 6-1), defending winner Granny’s Kitten (post six, Corey Lanerie, 6-1), Kentucky Downs stakes winner Applicator (post seven, Jack Gilligan, 12-1), graded stakes winner Saham (post eight, Jose Valdivia, Jr., 8-1), recent Gulfstream Park restricted stakes winner Special Ops (post nine, Julien Leparoux, 6-1) and graded stakes winner Thatcher Street (post ten, Brian Hernandez, Jr., 8-1).
Brad Grady and Carl R. Moore Management’s Mom’s On Strike heads a wide open field for the $75,000 Marie G. Krantz Memorial Stakes when she breaks from post eight as the lukewarm 4-1 morning line favorite for the mile-and-a-sixteenth event over the Stall-Wilson Turf Course for fillies and mares four years old and upward. Bred in Florida, the 5-year-old daughter of First Dude will seek her third straight victory having scored a pair of allowance wins over the local going on Dec. 23 and the Churchill Downs turf course on Nov. 26 which she won by 5½ lengths for trainer Joe Sharp. Her last attempt at a stakes event took place in the Pebbles Stakes over the Belmont Park turf course in Oct. 2016, but was a narrow second beaten three-quarters of a length by Thundering Sky. Mom’s On Strike will be ridden by Adam Beschizza.
Breaking just to her outside from the nine-hole is Dixiana Farm LLC’s Giada Vegas who will be seeking her fifth straight trip to the winner’s circle. Trained by Mark Casse, the 5-year-old daughter of Scat Daddy made her stakes debut last time out in the Blushing K.D. Stakes over the Stall-Wilson Turf Course which she won by one length over Joyous Thunder (post eight, Mitchell Murrill, 6-1). Giada Vegas entered her successful stakes debut last out with a trio of allowance wins over Woodbine’s Polytrack and broke her maiden over the Fair Grounds lawn at third asking last March. She will be ridden by Corey Lanerie and is the co-second choice at 9-2 odds.
Also looking to keep a winning streak alive is Allied Racing Stable LLC’s Inveniam Viam (post five, Shaun Bridgmohan, 9-2). Trained by Brad Cox, the Louisiana-bred daughter of Half Ours will step back into open company after a pair of stakes wins over the Fair Grounds turf against fellow homebreds in the Si Cima Stakes on Nov. 18 and most recently the Louisiana Champions Day Ladies Stakes on Dec 9. Her lone stakes victory against open company took place in last year’s Ellis Park Turf Stakes at its namesake track.
Completing the field are stakes placed Majestic Angel (post one, Robby Albarado, 20-1), three-time winner Princess Erindelle (post two, Marcelino Pedroza, 10-1), royally-bred Sweetbaby (post three, Chris Emigh, 8-1), three-time winner Shes A True Beauty (post four, Javier Castellano, 10-1), two-time Fair Grounds winner Vagabond Princess (post ten, Jack Gilligan, 5-1), and four-time winner Skyluck (post 11, Jose Lezcano, 20-1).
Two-time winner of Fair Grounds’ Thanksgiving Handicap Yockey’s Warrior (post four, Miguel Mena, 4-5) appears to be the standout in Saturday’s $75,000 Duncan F. Kenner Memorial Stakes, a six-furlong event on the main track for 4-year-olds and upward. Owned by S. Madison, S. Landry, M. Bernard, J. Broussard and trainer Al Stall, Jr., the 6-year-old son of Warrior’s Reward has not started since his five-length victory in the Thanksgiving Handicap on Nov. 23 where he defeated Chublicious (post one, Jose Valdivia, Jr., 3-1) and Blue Wings (post six, Adam Beschizza, 6-1). Prior to that, he defeated stakes winners Far Right and Wilbo in a 6 ½-furlong allowance race at Keeneland on Oct 22 which was his first start since a well-beaten eighth in the Gr. III Commonwealth Stakes over the Lexington oval. In his first triumph in the Thanksgiving Handicap, he defeated multiple stakes winners Clearly Now and Union Jackson.
Stakes winner Zulu (post two, Robby Albarado, 6-1), six-time winner Enchantera (post three, Javier Castellano, 10-1), and stakes placed Show Bound (post five, Chantal Sutherland, 20-1) round out 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, 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.