Graydar, Bourbon Courage Get Donn Rematch, Mark Valeski Challenges in Saturday's $400,000 New Orleans Handicap (GII)

By Graham Ross, Staff Writer

NEW ORLEANS (Thursday, March 28, 2013) – Twin Creeks Racing Stables’ Graydar and Bourbon Lane Stable’s Bourbon Courage, first and second respectively in the Grade I Donn Handicap in South Florida last month, get their much anticipated rematch in the Grade II New Orleans Handicap as part of Saturday’s expanded gala Louisiana Derby Day program at Fair Grounds Race Course &Slots.

However, the 88th running of the $400,000 New Orleans Handicap is far from a two-horse race. The showcase race for older horses on the main track each winter in the Crescent City has also attracted Preston Stables’ Flat Out, a fast-closing fourth in the Donn, as well as Brereton Jones’s Mark Valeski and Tenth Street Stable’s Cool Street, the one-two finisher’s in Fair Grounds’ Grade III Mineshaft Handicap last month.

Graydar, the lightly-raced Todd Pletcher trainee who stepped to the front of the handicap ranks with his Donn tally, has been installed as the 2-1 morning line choice and will have Peruvian-born jockey Edgar Prado handling the reins.

Flat Out, conditioned by Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott, is pegged as the 3-1 second choice. The 7-year-old won Belmont’s Grade I Jockey Club Gold Cup last year, was making his first start of 2013 in the Donn and his late-closing running style should be perfectly suited for the long stretch at Fair Grounds. Venezuelan-born jockey Junior Alvarado is named to ride.

Bourbon Courage, third choice in the early line at 7-2, is another colt who does his best running late and should appreciate the long, local stretch run. He finished third with a late run in Churchill’s Grade I Clark Handicap last November despite being carried out and bumped, and won the Grade II Super Derby last September at Louisiana Downs. Trained by Kellyn Gorder, Bourbon Courage will have Venezuelan-born Javier Castellano astride.

Fourth choice in the New Orleans Handicap morning line at 9-2 is Mark Valeski who was second by three-quarters of a length in the 2012 Louisiana Derby despite losing a shoe during the running, went on to win Belmont’s Grade II Peter Pan last summer and captured the Mineshaft here Feb. 23 in his most recent trip to the post.  Irish-born James Graham is up.

Prince Faisal bin Khalid bin Abdulaziz’ Macho Macho, winner of last year’s Grade II West Virginia Derby is 8-1 in the New Orleans Handicap early line and has California native rider Corey Nakatani slated for the saddle by his 11-time Fair Grounds trainer champion Steve Asmussen.

Cool Street, who won four races in a row at Fair Grounds this winter before finishing second by a length in the Mineshaft, is an attractive 15-1 in morning-line. He is trained by New Orleans native Bernie Flint and has Peruvian-born Miguel Mena aboard.

Completing the New Orleans Handicap field at 20-1 each is Gallant Stable’s MajesticHarborwith Shaun Bridgmohan named to ride and Terry Hamilton’s Dreaming Blue with jockey John Jacinto astride.