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Horses to Watch This Season
Below are horses to watch in each meet-championship division (except Claimer) during the upcoming 141st Thoroughbred Racing Season, opening Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 22. This list is comprised of horses expected at Fair Grounds based on stall applications, which are submitted in the fall by each trainer, as well as other sources, including published news reports, daily workout tabs and interviews with horsemen. Horses (with trainer) are listed alphabetically within each division.
Apart (Al Stall Jr.) – Five-year-old hit the board in three Fair Ground stakes during the 2010-2011 season, including a runner-up finish in the New Orleans Handicap (GII). The multiple graded stakes winner won the Super Derby (GII) at three. This year he finished second in the Evangeline Mile. Apart has been working steadily at Fair Grounds since mid-October.
Bind (Stall) – Four-year-old broke his maiden at Fair Grounds in February 2011 with a sensational 9 1/2-length win but has been off since finishing second in a first-level allowance on the 2011 Kentucky Derby undercard. He has been working steadily at Fair Grounds since mid-October for what will eventually be his first race in at least 18 months.
Bourbon Courage (Kellyn Gorder) – Three-year-old colt started his career with two resounding Fair Grounds wins at six furlongs last season. He’s since found success around two turns, including a five-length triumph in the $500,000 Super Derby (GII) at Louisiana Downs in September. He was second in the $500,000 Indiana Derby at Hoosier Park in October and has been working steadily at Churchill in anticipation of the Nov. 23 Clark Handicap (GI).
Cease (Stall) – Three-year-old finished second to Pool Play last time out in the Hawthorne Gold Cup (GII). In March he won the Maxxam Gold Cup at Sam Houston. Cease is currently at Churchill Downs preparing for the Nov. 23 Clark Handicap (GI).
Dubious Miss (Paul McGee) – Eight-year-old gelding won an allowance race at the end of the last Fair Grounds meet but has been working toward a comeback for more than a month. He has hit the board in the last three runnings of the Fair Grounds Handicap (GIII) and the last two renewals of the Colonel E.R. Bradley Handicap (GIII), both on turf, but still seeks his first Fair Grounds stakes win.
Fast Alex (Greg Geier) – Last season, this 5-year-old won the Tenacious Handicap before finishing second in both the Louisiana and Mineshaft handicaps. He’s been working in Chicago and is expected in New Orleans once the Hawthorne Race Course horses are cleared to travel.
Golden Yank (Gary Thomas) – Seven-year-old gelding is a veteran of 25 starts in stakes throughout the Midwest and Southwest but visits New Orleans for the first time dince the 2009 Colonel E.R. Bradley Handicap with the string of new Fair Grounds trainer Gary Thomas.
Hero of Order (Gennadi Dorochenko) – Three-year-old colt pulled off a 109-1 shocker in March’s $1 million Louisiana Derby (GII). Finished second to Hansen in June’s $250,000 Iowa Derby (GIII) but has been away from the races since fading to fifth in September’s Super Derby. Hero of Order posted a three-furlong work at Fair Grounds on Nov. 5 and is nominated to the Nov. 23 Woodchopper on turf.
Macho Macho (Steve Asmussen) – Gray 3-year-old broke his maiden at Fair Grounds in February and went on to win the $750,000 West Virginia Derby (GII). He then finished a solid second in the $1 million Pennsylvania Derby (GII) in his most recent start.
Mark Valeski (Larry Jones) – Three-year-old runner-up in this year’s Risen Star Stakes (GII) and Louisiana Derby (GII) was last seen winning the Peter Pan (GII) at Belmont in May.
Nehro (Asmussen) – As a 3-year-old in 2011, Nehro finished second in the Arkansas, Louisiana and Kentucky derbies, all in the span of five weeks. He easily won his 4-year-old debut at Fair Grounds in February and just missed by a nose in the $300,000 Pimlico Special (GIII) in May. He was last seen in June’s Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs, finishing sixth.
Prayer for Relief (Asmussen) – Like Nehro, Prayer for Relief is a 4-year-old owned by Zayat Stables. At three, he reeled off three straight rich stakes wins in the Iowa (GIII), West Virginia (GII) and Super (GII) derbies. This year he hit the board in a pair of Grade II stakes for 4-year-olds at Santa Anita, the San Fernando and the Strub, and a pair of Grade II stakes for older horses at Betfair Hollywood Park, the Mervyn LeRoy and the Californian Stakes.
Suntracer (Neil Pessin) – Now four, last season’s Woodchopper Stakes winner will enter the Fair Grounds meet off of two six-figure stakes wins in Chicago. He is currently training at Hawthorne awaiting clearance to leave for New Orleans.
Applauding (Stall) – Went two-for-two as a juvenile of 2011 with dominant wins at Keeneland and Fair Grounds but never started at three, despite entering and scratching from two Fair Grounds stakes. She has been working steadily in Kentucky for an approaching comeback.
Avie’s Sense (Josie Carroll) – Three-year-old broke her maiden at Fair Grounds in January before finishing second in the Rachel Alexandra Stakes (GIII), her last start. Appeared on the worktab at Woodbine in August and could make a comeback at Fair Grounds this winter.
Beat the Blues (Bret Calhoun) – Five-year-old graded stakes-placed mare won an allowance race at Fair Grounds last season before wining the Carousel Stakes at Oaklawn Park and hitting the board in graded stakes at Churchill and Saratoga.
Believe You Can (Jones) – This year’s Fair Grounds Oaks (GII) and Kentucky Oaks (GI) winner – the fifth filly to pull off that double in the last eight runnings of the Fair Grounds Oaks – has been off since a third-place effort in May’s Grade I Mother Goose at Belmont Park.
Inglorious (J. Carroll) – As a 3-year-old, she swept three major stakes at Woodbine, including the $1 million Queen’s Plate, the Canadian equivalent of the Kentucky Derby. This year she had three solid efforts but all came in races won by another top Ontario-bred, Marketing Mix.
Joyful Victory (Jones) – The 2011 Kentucky Oaks (GI) post-time favorite won her first race as a 4-year-old in February’s Tiffany Lass Stakes at Fair Grounds. She subsequently hit the board in three graded stakes, including a second last time out in the Chilukki (GII) at Churchill. She is nominated to the Falls City Handicap (GII) at Churchill on Thanksgiving Day.
Summer Applause (Calhoun) – The winner of February’s Rachel Alexandra Stakes (GIII) and runner-up in both the Silverbulletday and Fair Grounds Oaks (GII) hasn’t raced since a fourth-place finish in the Kentucky Oaks (GI) but has worked twice at Fair Grounds in recent weeks.
Wine Princess (Margolis) – The royally bred 3-year-old progeny of Ghostzapper and Azeri debuted on the Fair Grounds turf in March and has since won three races on dirt, including the Monmouth Oaks (GIII).
All Stormy (Greg Geier) – Three-year-old held on for second in July’s American Derby (GIII) at Arlington Park. Currently at Hawthorne.
Hammers Terror (Michael Stidham) – Three-year old won six-figure stakes this summer at Woodbine and Canterbury. Posted a bullet half-mile in :47 3/5 on Nov. 9 at Fair Grounds.
Hotep (Malcolm Pierce) – Five-year-old Ontario-bred is a multiple stakes winner at Woodbine and was a close second in the Nijinsky (GII-Can) there in July.
Joinem (David Carroll) – Five-year-old ran a huge race to finish third despite a wide trip in March’s Mervin Muniz Memorial (GII) at Fair Grounds.
Kindergarden Kid (Mike Maker) – Five-year-old has faced off against some of the top Grade I turf horses in the country this year. Won the 1 ½-mile Sycamore (GIII) at Keeneland before a sixth-place run in the Breeders’ Cup Turf (GI).
Mr. Vegas (Richie Scherer) – Last season’s Colonel E.R. Bradley Handicap (GIII) winner just missed in the Fair Grounds Handicap (GIII) and was fourth in the Muniz (GII). The 5-year-old has finished first or second in 10 of 13 starts in 2011 and 2012.
Papaw Bodie (Maker) – Five-year-old led into the stretch of the Muniz (GII) before being outfinished by Casino Host. Two starts later he nearly upset one of the most prestigious turf events of the year, finishing second by a nose in the Manhattan Handicap (GI) on Belmont Day.
Strike Impact (Pat Dupuy) – Eight-year-old gelding with 67 starts hit the board in two Fair Grounds stakes last season, including a third in the Bradley (GIII).
Willcox Inn (Stidham) – Won his 4-year-old debut at Arlington in June before an off-the-board finish in the Arlington Million (GI). A solid second in the Shadwell Turf Mile (GI) at Keeneland earned him a try in the Breeders’ Cup Mile (GI), where he was ninth. Willcox Inn shipped to Fair Grounds following that most recent start at Santa Anita.
Daisy Devine (Andrew McKeever) – Four-year-old is 6-5-1-0 at Fair Grounds, including the 2011 Fair Grounds Oaks and a pair of turf stakes last season. She won the Jenny Wiley (GI) at Keeneland in April and took the Cardinal Handicap (GIII) there last time out on Nov. 10.
Leading Astray (Pessin) – Three-year-old is five-for-seven with a pair of stakes wins at Arlington over the summer, including the Pucker Up (GIII).
Miz Ida (Margolis) – Three-year-old won the Allen LaCombe Memorial in March and enters this meet off three straight stakes wins, the most recent being Keeneland’s Valley View (GIII) over Leading Astray.
Cash Refund (Margolis) – The Fair Grounds Champion Sprinter of 2009-2010 lost two heartbreakers to Gantry in stakes races last season, both by a nose. The 6-year-old tired in his last start, the Aristides (GIII) at Churchill in June, and was given some time off but has been working steadily in Louisville with an eye toward the Thanksgiving Handicap.
Chamberlain Bridge (Calhoun) – A fan favorite since winning the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, the 8-year-old gelding has never finished off the board in eight Fair Grounds tries (5-2-1). Last season he won the Bonapaw Stakes before a second in the Colonel Power. Calhoun said last week that Chamberlain Bridge received a brief freshening after a third in the Woodford (GIII) at Keeneland and will likely return to his barn by the end of December.
Delaunay (Tom Amoss) – Five-year-old is three-for-four since joining the Amoss barn in May, including a win earlier this month in the Bet On Sunshine Stakes at Churchill Downs. Amoss confirmed last week the Delaunay is being pointed to the Thanksgiving Handicap, where he’ll be among the favorites.
Gantry (Ron Faucheux) – Defending Fair Grounds Champion Sprinter comes off an 11th-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint. In July he dominated Calder’s Smile Sprint (GII) by five lengths. Last season he won all three Fair Grounds starts – the Thanksgiving Handicap, the Gaudin Memorial and the Duncan F. Kenner Stakes. The 5-year-old is expected to attempt a defense of his Thanksgiving Handicap title on Opening Day.
Great Mills (Asmussen) – Four-year-old placed in three graded stakes this year and enters the meet off a fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint. Won three races at Fair Grounds two meets back, including the 2011 Grindstone.
Joe Hollywood (Asmussen) – Four-year-old raced in four Fair Grounds stakes last season and hit the board in three of them. He spent the last three months with Asmussen’s string at Remington Park.
Central Banker (Stall) – Speightstown colt was a five-length entry-level allowance winner sprinting at Churchill on Oct. 28. He is entered in Saturday’s Delta Jackpot (GIII).
Circle Unbroken (Garry Simms) – Broken Vow colt won his first two starts at Churchill Downs, including the Bashford Manor Stakes (GIII), before a second last time out in the Mountaineer Juvenile. No published works since that last start.
Joha (Maker) – Johar colt has won three of six lifetime, including the Breeders Futurity (GI) over the synthetic surface at Keeneland, before an eighth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (GI). Earlier this year, finished second over the Saratoga turf in the With Anticipation (GII) and won the Colin Stakes at Woodbine. Has never started over a traditional dirt surface.
Mr. Jawbreaker (J. Carroll) – Candy Ride gelding won his last two starts at Prairie Meadows, including the Prairie Gold Juvenile, for trainer Chris Richard before joining Josie Carroll’s barn.
Mylute (Amoss) – Midnight Lute colt was second to Mr. Jawbreaker in the Prairie Gold as a maiden. Won his first race at Arlington Park and last time out ran second in the Jean Lafitte Futurity at Delta Downs. He is entered in Saturday’s Delta Jackpot (GIII).
Assets of War (Neil Howard) – Impressive first-out winner in a six-furlong maiden special weight at Churchill on Oct. 28.
Blueeyesintherein (Simms) – Magna Graduate filly is two-for-two, including an easy win in the Debutante Stakes (GIII) at Churchill.
Cayllano (Amoss) – Bluegrass Cat filly won her first two, at Indiana Downs and Delaware Park, by huge margins. Ran third last time out in the My Trusty Cat Stakes at Delta and is entered in Saturday’s Delta Downs Princess Stakes (GIII).
Cloudy in Sandiego (Margolis) – War Pass filly was fourth in the Oct. 27 Pocohontas (GII) at Churchill following an Oct. 2 win at Hoosier. Entered in Saturday’s Delta Downs Princess Stakes (GIII).
Custody (Stall) – Broken Vow filly won easily at first asking at Arlington before a fourth in the Arlington-Washington Futurity (GIII).
Finding More (Gorder) – Trickey Trevor filly won an entry-level allowance at Churchill on Oct. 28.
Givmethreestepsmr (Simms) – Magna Graduate filly won impressively first time out sprinting in the Ellis Park slop but hasn’t been seen since that July 15 race.
La Song (Wayne Catalano) – Unbridled’s Song filly was last seen finishing eighth in the Oct. 27 Pocohontas (GII) at Churchill. Was a close second in the Arlington-Washington Lassie (GIII) at Arlington Park prior to an eighth-place try in the Darley Alcibiades (GI) at Keeneland.
Madame Cactus (Asmussen) – Cactus Ridge filly broke her maiden by more than six lengths sprinting at Santa Anita and came back to win the My Trusty Cat at Delta by two. Currently working steadily at Fair Grounds and entered in Saturday’s Delta Downs Princess Stakes (GIII).
Magical Moon (Stall) – Malibu Moon filly broke her maiden on the Saratoga turf by more than 10 lengths and came back to run third in the Alcibiades (GI) over Keeneland’s synthetic main track.
Sign (Stall) – Pulpit filly ranks as one of the best in the nation after breaking her maiden first-time out at Saratoga by 11 ¾ lengths and coming back to cross the wire first in the Oct. 27 Pocohontas (GII) at Churchill Downs by four.
Kissimmee Kyle (Stall) – Six-year-old has won the last two running of the Bayou St. John sprinting over the Fair Grounds turf and was second in a pair of two-turn turf stakes last meet. Currently working at Fair Grounds with an eye toward the Louisiana Champions Day Turf.
Populist Politics (Amoss) – The 2010 Louisiana Futurity winner easily won last season’s off-the-turf Mr. Sulu Stakes and finished second behind the legendary Star Guitar in two subsequent Fair Grounds stakes. Posted a bullet work at Fair Grounds on Nov. 5 and appears likely for the Louisiana Champions Day Classic.
Speedacious (Calhoun) – Five-year-old mare went three-for-three with two stakes wins at Fair Grounds last season and is a four-time Fair Grounds stakes winner overall, including two Louisiana Champions Day events, all sprinting. Has been working steadily at Fair Grounds this month for a likely try at back-to-back wins in the Louisiana Champions Day Ladies Sprint.
String King (Charles Smith) – Four-year-old gelding raced four times at Fair Grounds last season and won the Louisiana Champions Day Turf. He’s nominated to that race again this year.
Palmy Bay (Pat Mouton) – Lydgate colt finished the summer with three straight wins at Louisiana Downs, including the Louisiana Cup Juvenile and, last time out, a 12 ¼-length drubbing in the Louisiana Stallion Stakes. He’s been working steadily at Fair Grounds since mid-October and is the morning line favorite in Saturday’s Louisiana Legacy at Delta Downs.