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Saturday Stakes Advance: Optimizer Slight Choice in Gr. III Col. Bradley; Daisy Devine Odds-On for Marie Krantz; Delaunay Favored in Gaudin; Party Lad the Morning Line Pick in Inaugural Van Berg
By Graham Ross, Staff Writer
NEW ORLEANS(Thursday, January 24, 2013) – Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, who successfully shipped Bluegrass Hall’s Oxbow to New Orleans last week to win the Grade III Lecomte Stakes at the local oval, has another horse who is favored at 7-2 in the morning line to keep the trainer’s stakes streak intact when Bluegrass Hall’s Optimizer invades from Oaklawn Park for Saturday’s Grade III Col. E.R. Bradley Handicap at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots.
Following his local tally in the Lecomte, Lukas saddled Willis Horton’s Will Take Charge to capture Oaklawn’s Smarty Jones Stakes last Monday.
The Col. Bradley, for grass-favoring older horses at about 1 1/16-miles, is the first of three graded stakes that will be run over the Stall-Wilson Turf Course this season and was postponed a week to allow the local grass course time to dry out from inclement weather that hit the area mid-month.
Optimizer, who gets in the Col. Bradley with 117 pounds, has been idle since finishing third in the Grade II Hollywood Turf Cup Dec. 15 but breezed five furlongs in 1:02.20 at Oaklawn on Jan. 16. Jockey Jon Court, who rode Oxbow to victory in the Lecomte, will journey to the Crescent City once again Saturday for the mount on Optimizer, and was also aboard that 4-year-old son of English Channel when he won theGrade III Kent Stakes at Delaware Park last September.
Sure to provide strong competition for Optimizer is Chester Miller and Patrick Dupuy’s Strike Impact,who took command entering the lane in the Diliberto Memorial and continued with good courage the rest of the way to be best by a length. Trained by Pat Dupuy,Strike Impact is assigned 117 pounds Saturday, most of which will be made up by jockey Shaun Bridgmohan, and has been installed as the 4-1 second choice in the morning line.
Assigned the top impost of 120 pounds in the Col. Bradley, and third choice in the morning line at 9-2, is Melnyk Racing Stables’ James Street, who closed willingly to finish fifth beaten less than two lengths after racing wide in Fair Grounds’ $75,000 Diliberto Memorial Handicap in his last start Dec. 22. Trained by Josie Carroll, James Street will be ridden Saturday by John Jacinto.
Completing the field for the Col. Bradley, with respective jockeys, weights and odds assigned, is David Holloway Racing’s Dubious Miss, Mark Guidry, 117 (6-1); Stone Farm’s Trend, Richard Eramia, 113 (6-1); Adele Dilschneider’s Unlatch, Brian Hernandez Jr., 115 (8-1); Charles Craig Smith’s String King, James Graham, 115 (10-1); Chuck and Ella Lou Hagaman’s Bim Bam, Gerard Melancon, 115 (10-1); and Amerman Racing’s Tetradrachm, Leandro Goncalves, 114 (10-1).
DAISY DEVINE ODDS-ON FAVORITE FOR MARIE KRANTZ MEMORIAL ’CAP – James Miller’s Daisy Devine, who won the Grade II Fair Grounds Oaks on the main track here two seasons ago but has since become a grass specialist, looms the 2-5 choice in the early line for Saturday’s $75,000 Marie Krantz Memorial Handicap over the Stall-Wilson Turf Course.
Like Saturday’s Grade III Col. E. R. Bradley Handicap, the Krantz Memorial was originally scheduled to be run last Saturday but was postponed a week to allow the turf course more time to dry out from several days of inclement weather.
Trained by Andy McKeever,Daisy Devine most recently proved six lengths the best in Fair Grounds’ $75,000 Blushing K. D. Handicap Dec. 22, has to shoulder the top impost of 125 pounds this weekend but will have the riding services of Irish-born grass specialist jockey James Graham.
Named to oppose Daisy Devine Saturday are Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Artemus Kitten, Joe Bravo, 117 (4-1); Robert and Lawana Low’s Zapper Belle, Leandro Goncalves, 116 (5-1); Barnett Stables’ Anniversary Girl, Jesse Campbell, 113 (15-1); Shadwell Stable’s Ausus, Shaun Bridgmohan, 114 (20-1); and Nesco Stable’s Totheendoftheearth, Brian Hernandez Jr., 113 (20-1).
DELAUNAY FAVORED IN SATURDAY’S $75,000 F. W. GAUDIN MEMORIAL STAKES – Maggi Moss’s Delaunay, who won the $75,000 Thanksgiving Handicap on opening day at Fair Grounds this season, has been installed as the 9-5 morning line favorite for Saturday’s $75,000 F.W. Gaudin Memorial Handicap.
Brittlyn Stable’s Gantry,runner-up in this season’s Thanksgiving ’Cap but winner of last season’s Thanksgiving ’Cap as well as last season’s Gaudin, is pegged as the 3-1 second choice for Saturday’s Gaudin renewal.
Completing the Gaudin field is supplementary nomination Laurie’s Rocket (9-2); Flashpoint (6-1); Pass the Dice (8-1); Hollywood Hit (10-1); and Hamiltonian (10-1).
PARTY LAD EARLY CHOICE IN SATURDAYS INAUGURAL VAN BERG STAKES – Jal Dastur’s Party Lad, winner of an allowance and $75,000 optional claiming event over the Gulfstream grass in his last start and an allowance race on the main track at Penn National before that, has been installed as the 3-1 favorite for Saturday’s inaugural running of the $75,000 Van Berg Stakes for 3-year-olds over the Stall-Wilson Turf Course at the distance of about 5 ½ furlongs.
Named to oppose Party Lad in the Van Berg are Strike the Note, (4-1); Black Sheep’s Agave Cat (9-2); Animal Style, (6-1); Strong Response, (8-1); Evan’s Calling, (8-1); Sir Pulpit, (12-1); Jo Jo’s Comet, (15-1); Seeking Payday, (15-1); and Nev’s Cat, (20-1).