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Louisiana Derby 2-3 Finishers In Action Saturday
It's now T-minus three weeks to Kentucky Derby Day. And while Louisiana Derby winner Friesan Fire will train up to the "Run for the Roses," the other two horses who hit the board in Fair Grounds' signature race are back in action this Saturday.
Papa Clem edged out Terrain in a photo for the place four weeks ago in New Orleans. There's no chance of a photo between the two this Saturday, because they'll be running in different time zones.
Papa Clem will challenge Old Fashioned and Win Willy in the Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park, while Terrain tackles a large but wide-open field in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland.
Terrain, thanks to a strong 2-year-old campaign, already has enough graded stakes earnings to punch his ticket to Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May. If he stays the course, he will be the first Derby starter for trainer Al Stall Jr., a New Orleans native.
Also in the Blue Grass field is Lecomte Stakes runner-up Patena, who was sent off as the second choice behind Friesan Fire in the Louisiana Derby but finished eighth. Seven-time Fair Grounds leading rider Robby Albarado retains the mount.
The Blue Grass undercard also features some Fair Grounds standouts -- the Bret Calhoun-trained duo of Mr. Nightlinger and Chamberlain Bridge, the latter of which won the Colonel Power Stakes, in the Shakertown; and in the Grade II Commonwealth at seven furlongs, Bonapaw Stakes winner Storm Treasure and 2008 Louisiana Derby runner-up My Pal Charlie.
Keeneland's spring meet features graded stakes races almost every day. .On Wednesday, Mardi Gras Stakes winner Selva moves into graded company in the Beaumont for 3-year-old fillies. Already in her young career, the David Carroll trainee has stakes victories on traditional dirt, Polytrack and turf. The likely favorite in the race is the California-based Evita Argentina.
On Thursday, Stall will send out Truly Bound Handicap runner-up Bear Now in the seven-furlong Grade I Vinery Madison, where she will face champion filly and mare sprinter Ventura.
A couple of turf winners this winter are in action Friday. Trainer Keith Desormeaux will give a leg up to his brother Kent, who rides Gangbuster in the Fort Harrod, where he will face the Mark Frostad-trained Catch the Luck, who just missed in four tries in allowance company this winter at Fair Grounds. In the Maker's Mark Mile, two-time allowance winner House of Silver makes his stakes debut in a Grade I for trainer Wally Dollase.
It's also a big week at Oaklawn leading up to the Arkansas Derby. The morning-line favorite in Thursday's $100,000 Fifth Season Stakes, Golden Yank, lost a tough photo to French Beret in the Grade III Col. E.R. Bradley Handicap three starts ago. Among those he will face on Thursday is 2008 Grade III Lecomte Stakes winner Z Fortune.
On Friday, the $150,000 Grade III Count Fleet Sprint includes Steve Margolis trainee Garifine, who finished third in the Duncan F. Kenner Stakes last out, a half-length behind second-place finisher Kodiak Kowboy, who came back last Saturday to win the Grade I Carter Handicap.
Speaking of Grade I winners, congratulations are in order to Louisiana native and Fair Grounds-based rider Corey Lanerie, who claimed the first Grade I win of his 18-year riding career in the Ashland at Keeneland aboard Hooh Why, a mount he picked up earlier in the afternoon.