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Stakes Advance: Thanksgiving Handicap



Following the defection of Maggi Moss’s Delaunay from the 88th running of the $100.000 Thanksgiving Handicap at Fair Grounds Racecourse & Slots, Brittlyn Stable’s Gantry becomes the favorite for the New Orleans oval’s traditional Turkey Day holiday fixture.

Delaunay was withdrawn Saturday morning after spiking a temperature overnight.

“Delaunay is out of the Thanksgiving Handicap,” Fair Grounds’ 10-time trainer champion Tom Amoss said Saturday shortly before the first race of the afternoon.  “When I got to the barn this morning he had a temperature of 103 degrees.”

Gantry, who captured this historic holiday fixture two years ago but finished second to Delaunay in last season’s renewal, now heads the field.  Trained by Ron Faucheux, Gantry also finished second to Delaunay in last season’s Gaudin and Duncan Kenner but won both of those events two seasons ago for his own local sprint stakes sweep.

Most recently, Gantry won the $50,000 Temperance Hill at Louisiana Downs Sept. 7 and will be ridden once again in the Thanksgiving ‘Cap by regular rider Richard Eramia.

Not to be discounted in the Thanksgiving ‘Cap is Kirk and Robison’s Mico Margarita, conditioned by last season’s co-leading trainer Steve Asmussen, who was registering his 13th local championship last spring.

Mico Margarita, who missed by three-quarters of a length when second in his last start in Saratoga’s Grade II Amsterdam Stakes July 28, had won Calder’s Grade III Carry Back by 4 ½-lengths in his previous effort July 6.  California-based nationally-recognized veteran reins master David Flores, hanging his tack at Fair Grounds on a regular basis for the first time this season, is slated to handle the reins on Mico Margarita.

Completing the field for the Nov. 28 Thanksgiving Handicap is Klaravich Stables and William Lawrence’s Central Banker with Florent Geroux; Ron Faucheux and Thomas Arnaud’s Foreign Production, Eddie Martin Jr.); and Riceland Racing Stables’ Strong and Tough, James Graham.