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Sunday Notes: String King, Daisy Devine, Delaunay and More!


By Graham Ross, Staff Writer

NEW ORLEANS (Sunday, January 27, 2013) – Owner-trainer-breeder Charlie Smith was his usual smiling self at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots on Sunday morning before heading back to his Haughton, La., home base. That was understandable, because late Saturday afternoon String King – a horse he owns, trains and bred in Louisiana– proved himself the real deal in the open company of Saturday’s Grade III Col. E.R. Bradley Handicap.

String King ran second behind Bluegrass Hall’s Optimizer in the Col. Bradley, but he beat the seven others in the race – six of which were bred in Kentucky and one in Florida.

“I’m very proud of him,” said Smith. “I think he’s the best thing Louisiana has going right now and I hope he gets some consideration for Horse of the Year in Louisiana. He ran big yesterday. He just got trapped down there where the going was tough, but as soon as he got clear he showed everybody what he can do. He ate up all his feed this morning and he just now lay down for a little bit. He’s at peace right now.

“I’m going to have him picked up Wednesday morning and brought back to the River Point Training Center,” said Smith. “I’m going to look around and try and find a spot for his next race, but I’d really like to bring him back here for the (Grade II) Mervin Muniz (Memorial Handicap March 30).The Muniz is definitely on the agenda.”

The $400,000 Mervin Muniz, richest turf stakes of the Fair Grounds season, will be run at about nine furlongs over the Stall-Wilson Turf Course on LouisianaDerby Day.

DAISY DEVINE IN FINE FETTLE SUNDAY FOLLOWING LATEST FG STAKES SCORE – James Miller’s Daisy Devine, front-running heroine of Saturday’s $75,000 Marie Krantz Memorial and the $75,000 Blushing K.D. Handicap earlier at the meeting, was none the worse for wear Sunday.

“She looks great today,” trainer Andy McKeever said of his brilliant mare, who won the Grade II Fair Grounds Oaks in 2011. “I’m very lucky to have her.”

Would the listed $75,000 Bayou Handicap here Feb. 23 be next on her dance card?

“I hope so,” said McKeever.

DELAUNAY DELIVERS AGAIN IN F. W. GAUDIN MEMORIAL HANDICAP – Delaunay won his fourth in a row for Maggi Moss – Fair Grounds’ leading owner the last two seasons – by winning Saturday’s $75,000 F.W. Gaudin Memorial Handicap.

“The horse ran a huge race yesterday,” said trainer Tom Amoss Sunday morning of the horse who also won the $75,000 Thanksgiving Handicap on opening day.

The owner-trainer team claimed Delaunay for $40,000 last spring.

“We just gave him some time off and let him put on 100 pounds,” said Moss last week. “If you’re good to them, they’re good to you.”

In an added Gaudin-related note from others concerned for the welfare of the Thoroughbred, trainer Steve Margolis, who saddled Richard, Bertram and Elaine Klein’s Cash Refund to win the Gaudin in 2010 and finish second by a nose last year, reported that the 7-year-old gelding has retired following a fourth-place finish at Fair Grounds Friday.

“He’s sound, and there’s nothing wrong with his legs, but he’s lost a step,” Margolis said. “Richard promised he’d never run him for a tag.”

JACK VAN BERG ON HAND FOR STAKES NAMED AFTER HIS FAMILY – Hall of Fame trainer Jack Van Berg was on hand at Fair Grounds Saturday, along with his daughter, Tracy Hoops,and her children to present the trophy in the inaugural running of the $75,000 Van Berg Stakes.

The Van Berg was named for him as well as his Hall of Fame trainer father Marion Van Berg – both longtime fixtures with multiple training titles accrued between them at Fair Grounds.

“I’m very appreciative of this honor for me and my family,” Van Berg said during a paddock interview earlier in the day.