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Tuesday Notes: Mark Valeski Gets Final Louisiana Derby Tune Up

By Graham Ross, Staff Writer

NEW ORLEANS (Tuesday, March 27, 2012) – Brereton Jones’s Mark Valeski, one half of the favored Larry Jones-trained entry pegged at 2-1 for Sunday’s 99th running of the $1 million Louisiana Derby, breezed five furlongs in 1:00.60 Tuesday morning at Fair Grounds in final serious preparations in advance of the annual centerpiece event of the New Orleans Thoroughbred racing season.

“It was a very good morning for us (with Mark Valeski),” said the Kentucky-born trainer shortly after the move. “I got splits of 12 and three, 25 flat, 37 and two and 49 and one, and then got him galloping out in 1:13 and two. That means he did a 12 and two, another 12 and two, and then two 11 and fours, so he got the last quarter in 23 and change.”

Track clockers recorded the same splits as Jones, although they caught the gallop out in 1:14.

“I like the way we’re coming into this race,” said Jones. “This has got us in a situation that we like to be in. He didn’t work quite as fast today as he did right before the Risen Star, but then again he went a little faster than I wanted the last time (a bullet five-eighths in 59.40 March 20). Also, this horse is a little further along than he was before the Risen Star.”

Fair Grounds’ defending jockey champion Rosie Napravnik, already assured of her second straight local title, was aboard Mark Valeski for Tuesday’s morning move and will ride the colt Sunday in pursuit of her second straight Louisiana Derby win.

Mr. Bowling (the other half of the Brereton Jones-owned entry and winner of Fair Grounds’ Grade III Lecomte Stakes Jan. 21) worked yesterday (March 26 in 1:00.40),” said Jones, “so he just walked today. I like where we’re at with both horses.”

Seven-time Fair Grounds jockey champion Robby Albarado will ride Mr. Bowling in Sunday’s highlight.

TOM AMOSS BELIEVES IN SHARED PROPERTY FOR SUNDAY’S LOUISIANA DERBY – One contender for Sunday’s Grade II Louisiana Derby who has fallen somewhat off the radar of late is Jerry Namy’s Shared Property, winner of last fall’s Grade III Arlington-Washington Futurity who finished third beaten a half-length for the win in Fair Grounds Grade III Lecomte Stakes Jan. 21.

The Lecomte, first leg of Fair Ground’s three-race sophomore series, was Shared Property’s first start as a 3-year-old.

“I never have spoken to anyone about what my plans were with this horse (in the Louisiana Derby),” said New Orleans native conditioner Tom Amoss, a nine-time Fair Grounds trainer champion. “It has been my intention to run in this race all along.”

In his last trip to the post in Fair Grounds’ Grade II Risen Star Stakes Feb. 25, Shared Property finished fifth beaten five lengths for the win.

“As bad a job as I did training this horse up to the Risen Star, I think now I’ve got him back to where he was,” said Amoss of the colt who was installed at 10-1 in the morning line for the Louisiana Derby.

Shared Property, who finished sixth in last fall’s Grade I Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland after racing wide, breezed a half-mile Monday morning at Fair Grounds in 47.20. Before that on March 19, the son of Scat Daddy accomplished a bullet five-furlong move in 59.60 at the local oval.

Jockey Leandro Goncalves, Shared Property’s regular rider and defending jockey champion at Ellis Park, will be aboard once again in the Louisiana Derby.

LOUISIANADERBY’S Z DAGER BREEZES FIVE FURLONGS TUESDAY – Zayat Stables’ Z Dager, pegged as the fourth choice at 8-1 in the morning line for Sunday’s $1 million Louisiana Derby, breezed a half-mile in 50.20 Tuesday morning in final serious preparations for the upcoming Grade II test. Track clockers caught splits of 13.40, 25.60 and 37.80.

Ten-time Fair Grounds trainer champion and two-time Eclipse Award-winner Steve Asmussen is the conditioner of Z Dager, who will be ridden by Erath, Louisiana-born Shane Sellers in Sunday’s showcase event of the Crescent City racing season.

Z Dager, a son of Mizzen Mast, finished second by a head in Fair Grounds’ Grade III Lecomte Stakes on Jan. 21 and was then third in the local oval’s Grade II Risen Star Stakes on Louisiana Derby Preview Day Feb. 25.

ADVANCE WAGERING ON LOUISIANA DERBY DAY CARD – Advance wagering on Sunday’s Louisiana Derby Day card will be available Saturday on track and at participating outlets throughout the nation.

EARLY OPENING FOR DUBAI RACES SATURDAY – The Fair Grounds OTB on the first floor of the Grandstand will open early at 9 a.m. on Saturday for wagering on the Dubai World Cup card from Meydan Racecourse. Admission charges for the Fair Grounds Oaks Day program will not go into effect until 10:30 a.m., so early arrivals to the OTB will receive free Grandstand General Admission for the day.

SOUTHERN OAKS PLANTATION LOUISIANA DERBY PREVIEW SHOW ON CST – For the fourth straight year, Emmy Award-winning sports broadcaster Eric Richeyand 37-year Thoroughbred racing veteran Rick Mocklin will team up for a preview of the $1 million Louisiana Derby. The Southern Oaks Plantation Louisiana Derby Preview will air at 6:30 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. Saturday throughout the Cox Sports Television network, which reaches 2.5 million homes across the South. The show will include stories, features, and interviews from horsemen preparing for the 99th Louisiana Derby, and also many of the undercard stakes races from Louisiana Derby Day. Long-time horse ownerBobby Asaro will also join the show for a special segment.