Home of the Louisiana Derby

Country Day, Chamberlain Bridge Renew Rivalry in Saturday's Colonel Power

This Saturday, when Fair Grounds hosts its final local preps for this season’s $1 million Louisiana Derby, $500,000 Fair Grounds Oaks, $400,000 New Orleans Handicap and $400,000 Mervin Muniz Memorial Handicap, the other contests on Saturday’s 12-race program tend to suffer something of an identity crisis.

That is unfortunate, because a fifth stakes race – the 25th anniversary edition of the $75,000 Colonel Power Stakes at about 5 1/2-furlongs over Fair Grounds’ Stall-Wilson turf course – features a potential fifth meeting between Carl Moore’s 2010 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint champion Chamberlain Bridge and last year’s Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint runner-up Country Day, owned by Richard, Bertram and Elaine Klein.

Chamberlain Bridge, trained by Bret Calhoun, beat Steve Margolis trainee Country Day by a length in their most recent face-off in Fair Grounds’ $75,000 Bonapaw Stakes Dec. 17, but he has celebrated his eighth birthday since that day. Country Day, who has become a comparatively spry 6-year-old since the Bonapaw, also was strongly compromised when bumped solidly at the start of that race.

With that in mind, Country Day has been installed as the slight morning line favorite at 5-2 in the Colonel Power morning line, while the champion Chamberlain Bridge is pegged a point higher at 3-1.

In their previous meeting in the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, Country Day finished second, while Chamberlain Bridge finished a lackluster eighth.

However, one month before last fall’s Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint during Pennsylvania’s Parx Racing session, Chamberlain Bridge ran third in the Grade III Turf Monster Handicap and it was Country Day who finished eighth after being forced to steady in that Philadelphia sprint.

The rivals’ first New Orleans battle came in the Colonel Power Stakes two years ago, with Chamberlain Bridge winning that duel by three-quarters of a length while Country Day finished second.

Whispering Oaks Joe Hollywood, co-third choice at 6-1 choice in the Colonel Power morning line, merits serious consideration – especially if the race was transferred to the main track due to inclement weather.

Although the Florida-bred 4-year-old is winless in two starts over grass going, Joe Hollywood has run well over it, finishing second by three-quarters of a length in one of those.

Trained by 10-time Fair Grounds trainer champion and current leading conditioner Steve Asmussen, Joe Hollywood finished third in Fair Grounds’ $75,000 F. W. Gaudin Memorial Stakes on the main track in his last start Jan. 21, was also third in the $75,000 Thanksgiving Handicap on opening day over that same surface, and advanced steadily up the allowance ranks with back-to-back wins at Monmouth Park last year.

Regular riders Jamie Theriot and James Graham return respectively astride Chamberlain Bridge and Country Day, while Shaun Bridgmohan gets the mount aboard Joe Hollywood this weekend.

Completing the Colonel Power line-up, with its corresponding riding assignments, is the Estate of Oliver Pierce’s Sweetsouthernmoon, Miguel Mena; Maynard Chatters’ Southern Style, Edgar Prado; Dwight Sprague’s Cactus Son, Shane Sellers; Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Lonesome Street, Javier Castellano; Ike and Dawn Thrash’s Heir Joe, Robby Albarado; John Eaton and Steve Laymon’s Zeb, Rosie Napravnik; Sadie and Ronnie Moore’s Uno Ducksy, Richard Eramia; and Carol Waller’s Smokethruakeyhole, Ramsey Zimmerman.

ZIP MOTION GETS SINGLE-POINT FAVORITISM IN $60,000 GENTILLY STAKES – Set-Hut LLC’s Zip Motion, owned by NFL quarterback Jake Delhomme and his family and trained by his father Jerry Delhomme, has been accorded single-point favoritism at 4-1 in the projected line for Saturday’s $60,000 Gentilly Stakes at Fair Grounds.

The race, restricted to accredited sophomore Louisiana-breds, is scheduled to be contested at about one-mile over Fair Grounds’ Stall-Wilson turf course and is one of six stakes worth a total of $885,000 that makes up Saturday’s Louisiana Derby Preview Day Presented by Lamarque Ford, which will have a special early post-time of 12:10 p.m. to accommodate the 12 races slated for the expanded gala afternoon.

Delhomme, a native of Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, completed the recently concluded NFL season as a member of the Houston Texans, champions of the AFC South in 2011.

Zip Motion, by City Zip out of Some Came Running, may be an appropriate name for a horse owned by a quarterback, but merits his Gentilly Stakes favoritism based on his runner-up run in Delta’s $125,000 Premier Prince Stakes in his last start Feb. 4.

REMINDER: SPECIAL 5 P.M. POST TIME FOR STARLIGHT RACING FRIDAY – Fair Grounds guests and fans of Friday’s Starlight Racing programs are reminded that a special 5 p.m. post time is in effect for Friday’s Starlight Racing 10-race card – the fourth of six such party-themed programs slated for the New Orleans oval’s 2011-2012 session.

The theme for the Feb. 24 Starlight Racing entertainment concept is “Hollywood”, featuring Hollywood-style décor, props and lighting, with entertainment that will include DJ Digital in the Miller Beer Garden Tent and The Mixed Nuts entertaining on the fourth floor of the Fair Grounds clubhouse.