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Observations and Congratulations
(Updated 8:15 a.m. Saturday) Happy Kentucky Derby Day!
Hopefully, for Fair Grounds fans, we can see another repeat performance from Louisiana Derby Day, just as we did on Friday, when Fair Grounds Oaks winner Rachel Alexandra absolutely destroyed the field in the Kentucky Oaks by an astonishing 20 1/4 lengths.
If you're counting, that's four times in six years for a Fair Grounds Oaks-Kentucky Oaks double.
Can Louisiana Derby winner Friesan Fire keep it going on Saturday afternoon and produce only the third Louisiana Derby-Kentucky Derby double?
I've never professed to be a handicapper - just ask my Fair Grounds colleagues about the Derby four years ago, when I had 16 of 20 horses covered through win and double wagers heading into the race, and didn't have either of the top two finishers, Giacomo or Closing Argument. (Then again, based on the odds, not many others did either.)
That said, I will tell you I'll be pulling for our Fair Grounds connections in the "greatest two minutes in sports." (Unfortunately, that now does not include Marrero native Joe Talamo on morning-line favorite I Want Revenge, who was scratched Saturday morning.)
Besides Friesan Fire, that includes Papa Clem, who was second in the Louisiana Derby; seven-time Fair Grounds leading rider Robby Albarado, who if he boots home Flying Private in the Derby, might light up the tote board more than Giacomo did; and Nowhere to Hide, who was fourth in the Risen Star and will probably be a bigger longshot than Flying Private.
In the race before the Derby, the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic, the 1-2 finishers from the Mervin Muniz, Proudinsky and El Caballo, are both entered. Based on weather conditions, the turf figures to be something less than firm, and of course, the Muniz was run on a yielding Stall-Wilson turf course. With all Proudinsky has accomplished, including back-to-back wins in the Muniz, he does not have a Grade I win to his credit.
There are plenty of more horses who raced at Fair Grounds this winter to keep an eye on Saturday at Churchill. Click here to view the rundown.
A couple of congratulations to Louisiana-breds, human and equine ...
First, to jockey Anna Roberts, who got her first career mount at Fair Grounds in March and picked up her first win Wednesday night at Evangeline Downs. Unfortunately, her mom, Eclipse Award winning photographer Lynn Roberts, couldn't be there, but we got a picture nonetheless, courtesy of our counterparts at EvD.
Also, congrats to the Benoit family and trainer Al Stall for their third-place finish with state-bred Star Guitar in the Grade III Alysheba Stakes at Churchill on Friday. After strong performances in state-bred company, Star Guitar now has graded stakes black type.