By Ryan Martin —-
COMPELLED OVERCOMES NINE MONTH LAYOFF TO SCORE IN MARDI GRAS STAKES
NEW ORLEANS (February 13, 2018) – Glen Hill Farms’ Compelled fired off the bench to take the Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots’ Fat Tuesday feature- the $75,000 Mardi Gras Stakes, which is run at five-and-a-half furlongs for fillies and mares on the Stall-Wilson Turf Course.
Trained by Tom Proctor and ridden to victory by Corey Lanerie, the 4-year-old daughter of War Front came from well off of a pace set by Triple Chelsea, who set opening fractions of 22.09 and 46.27. Triple Chelsea maintained the lead at the top of the stretch but was eventually passed up by the favorite Finley’sluckycharm who did not hold the lead long and was gunned down by Compelled who captured the Mardi Gras Stakes by one length in a time of 1:04.32. Finley’sluckysharm was second and Triple Chelsea finished third.
“(She started to kick in) at the five-eighths pole,” Lanerie said. “At the three-eighths pole I kind of gathered up a little bit and wanted to stay on the inside at least through the turn where I could save some ground. I was able to work my out and find a clear run and never really thought I was going to get them until the end. She’s got a lot of class and Tom had her ready to roll.”
Meanwhile Bret Calhoun, trainer of Finley’sluckycharm, was gracious in defeat.
“You’re disappointed when you don’t win but we got what we needed,” Calhoun said. “I don’t think the surface was her favorite. (Jockey) Brian (Hernandez, Jr.) said that she just didn’t have the normal gears that she has. Turning for home he thought he would go by pretty easy. He said that she didn’t have a quick turn of foot or normal gears like she normally has. At the end of the day we would have loved to have won but we got what we needed.”
Calhoun went on to say that the 5-year-old daughter of Twirling Candy would likely point to the Grade I $300,000 Madison Stakes at Keeneland on Apr. 7.
Compelled has never been worse than third in her eight career starts and has not been beaten more than 1½ lengths. She boasts a lifetime record of 8-3-2-3 and earned $45,000 from her Mardi Gras win which enhanced her career earnings to $202,320. The Mardi Gras Stakes was the second stakes victory for Compelled. As a 2-year-old, she won Gulfstream Park West’s Juvenile Filly Turf Stakes.
She rewarded her backers in payouts of $15.40, $9 and $2.80 while Finley’sluckycharm returned $4 and $2.80 to place. Triple Chelsea brought back $2.20 to show.
Rounding out the Mardi Gras Stakes parade were Burma Road, Excessivespending, Luvin Bullies, Wheatfield, Contributing, Justa Lady, Sweetbaby, Some Say So and Go Kart (Ire).
Barn Notes: Tuesday, February 13, 2018
• Lukas Commits to Grade II Risen Star With Bravazo; Kentucky Club May Scratch
• Cedartown Takes Next Big Step In Grade III Mineshaft Handicap
• Casse Has Dubai In Mind For Colonel Power Entrant Holding Gold
• Brisset Discusses Options With Quip
LUKAS COMMITS TO GRADE II RISEN STAR WITH BRAVAZO; KENTUCKY CLUB MAY SCRATCH
Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas considered cross entering Gr. II $400,000 Risen Star Stakes entrant Bravazo in Oaklawn Park’s Grade III $500,000 Southwest Stakes on Monday Feb. 19, but the conditioner will opt to send the 3-year-old son of Awesome Again to the Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots for Saturday’s race.
“I’m committing him to the race so I’m running down there,” Lukas said by phone from his Oaklawn Park base.
Owned by Calumet Farm, Bravazo made his 3-year-old debut a winning one last time when facing allowance company at Oaklawn Park on Jan. 13 where he was guided by Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens.
“That was a really good race, he got a good number,” Lukas said. “I think we can be competitive. I feel like he’s a competitive horse and a lot of the horses in the race have a lot have similar numbers. The race is fifty points (on Churchill Downs’ Road To The Kentucky Derby) and I think that he merits a chance.”
As a 2-year-old, Bravazo broke his maiden going one mile over Churchill Downs’ main track before a second-place finish in the Gr. I Claiborne Futurity behind Free Drop Billy. Stevens is named the rider aboard the horse for Saturday’s race, however Lukas stated that Fair Grounds current leading rider Miguel Mena would pilot the horse on Saturday. He will break from the seven hole at odds of 8-1.
Lukas’ other Risen Star entrant Kentucky Club (post eight, James Graham, 30-1) is “50-50 at best” and may stay with the trainer’s string in Hot Springs, Ark. The son of Oxbow broke his maiden last time out by eight lengths for a $30,000 tag.
“I may leave him home and run him (at Oaklawn Park),” Lukas said. “He ran a huge race even if it was against claiming horses, but it would be a huge step for him and he’s got a lot of options and still can run through his conditions. I want to see how the (Southwest Stakes) comes up. We’d like to try him a little longer at some point.”
Lukas has won two previous editions of the Risen Star with Exchange Rate (2000) and Open Forum (1997).
CEDARTOWN TAKES NEXT BIG STEP IN GRADE III MINESHAFT HANDICAP
The ever-improving Cedartown will be taking things to the next level when he makes his graded stakes debut in Saturday’s Gr. III $150,000 Mineshaft Handicap.
Owned by Godolphin LLC, the 4-year-old son of Candy Ride (Arg.) enters the Mineshaft Handicap off of a pair of stakes victories in the Zia Park Derby in New Mexico and the Louisiana Stakes on Jan. 13. Trainer Mike Stidham is confident that Cedartown has what it takes for this caliber and has his eyes set on the Gr. II $400,000 New Orleans Handicap at the end of the Winter Meet.
“He’s certainly climbed up the ladder nicely and we hope that he can take the next step to graded stakes level,” Stidham said. “We hope that leads him into the New Orleans Handicap. That was our goal from early last summer to try and hope that he would be good enough for that race. When he started running well and his numbers were climbing, I told (President of Godolphin’s Untied States division) Jimmy Bell that I would love to run in the New Orleans Handicap. Obviously there’s a hometown connection so I would love to win that race.”
A $620,000 purchase at the Fasig –Tipton Sale in March 2016, Cedartown is a three-quarters brother to three-time graded stakes winner Danzing Candy. He has never finished worse than second in seven career starts. He breaks from the rail under jockey Joe Bravo as the 8-5 morning line favorite.
CASSE HAS DUBAI IN MIND FOR COLONEL POWER ENTRANT HOLDING GOLD
Live Oak Plantation’s Holding Gold makes his seasonal bow in Saturday’s $50,000 Colonel Power Overnight Stakes. Should the son of Lonhro (Aus.) put up a solid effort in the five-and-a-half furlong event over the Stall-Wilson Turf Course, trainer Mark Casse will likely send him overseas next out in the Al Quoz Sprint (UAE-I) at Meydan Racecourse on Mar. 31.
“My hope is to take him to Dubai,” Casse said. “I was a little concerned with the (Breeders’ Cup) Turf Sprint being at Churchill Downs that it might be five furlongs but now it’s five-and-a-half.”
Holding Gold will be making his first start since a close seventh in the Gr. I Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint at Del Mar, where he was beaten 1¾ lengths. He was beaten by the same amount in his two starts prior, which took place in the Gr. II Turf Monster Stakes at Parx Racing where he finished sixth and Saratoga’s Troy Stakes on Aug. 6. Last spring he took the Gr. III Shakertown Stakes at Keeneland over graded stakes winners Green Mask and Hogy.
“He’s really good and runs well off the layoff,” Casse said. “If you watch the Breeders’ Cup, he galloped out in front after the race about twenty yards past the wire. I think five-eighths is just a touch short for him so that’s why we sent him to New Orleans from Florida.”
Holding Gold will break from post five as the 8-5 morning line favorite under Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez.
BRISSETT DISCUSSES OPTIONS WITH QUIP
Trainer Rodolphe Brissett has been working promising 3-year-old Quip at the Fair Grounds all winter, but the son of Distorted Humor’s sophomore debut may take place elsewhere.
Brissett stated that either the Gr. III $300,000 Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct or the Gr. II $400,000 Tampa Bay Derby, both on Mar. 10, are potential options.
“It gives us enough time to be ready,” Brissett said. “Week by week we’ll play it by ear. He’s been doing well. He came back great after his five-eighths work (1:00.00 on Sunday morning).”
Owned by WinStar Farm LLC, China Horse Club International and SF Racing LLC, Quip won his first two starts which took place at Churchill Downs and Keeneland. He has not run since a seventh-place finish in the Gr. II Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill Downs on Nov. 25.