Stakes Advance: Santa Super Saturday

Asmussen (Prayer for Relief), Amoss (Grand Contender) Duel in Tenacious; Channel Marker, Great Mills, 'Cash,' Tour Guide to Meet in Bonapaw; King David, Daddy Nose Best Head 'Buddy' Diliberto Memorial 'Cap; Class Included, Artemus Kitten Top Blushing K. D. 'Cap

Celebrated local trainer champions Steve Asmussen (13 titles)and Tom Amoss (10-time leader) tied for top honors last season at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots and are slated to renew their rivalry in Saturday’s 49th running of the $75,000 Tenacious Handicap.   Asmussen will be represented by Zayat Stables’ starting high weight Prayer for Relief while Amoss has named Maggi Moss’s Grand Contender to the 1 1/16-mile listed stakes.

The Tenacious ‘Cap, which includes Harvey Peltier’s Diplomat Way and James Jackson’s Valhol on its list of winners, headlines the New Orleans oval’s Santa Super Saturday program but is joined on the holiday-themed day by the listed $75,000 Bonapaw Stakes, the $75,000 “Buddy” Diliberto Memorial Handicap and the $75,000 Blushing K. D. Handicap. 

Two supporting overnight stakes, the $60,000 Sugar Bowl and the $60,000 Letellier Memorial will also be run on the afternoon that also focuses on a feast of family funEquestrian Angel Miniature Horses will be featured for the first time at Fair Grounds and will be displayed on the apron along with fun-filled face painting, cookie decorating, crafts and coloring opportunities for the youngest generation of Fair Grounds fans.

However, the Tenacious remains the main Thoroughbred racing event.  Prayer for Relief, assigned 120 pounds including jockey David Flores, was unsuccessful in his last trip to the post in Churchill’s Grade I Clark Handicap Nov. 29 but includes Prairie Meadows’ Grade II Cornhusker Handicap last summer among his triumphs.

Grand Contender, with 119 pounds Saturday with Rosie Napravnik up, boasts clear-cut victories in his last three starts, topped by a 3 ¼-length tally in his most recent trip to the post in the $150,000 Delta Mile Nov. 23.

Others named to the Tenacious ‘Cap are Robert and Lawana Low’s Agent Di Nozzo, 118; Hoosier Daddy’s Stable’s Voodoo Storm, 118; Jim Tafel’s Afford, 115; West Point Thoroughbreds’ Flashy Sunrise, 114; J-Lu LLC’s Hip Four Sixtynine, 114; and West Point Stable et al.’s Ground Transport, 112.

CHANNEL MARKER, GREAT MILLS, ‘CASH’, TOUR GUIDE TO MEET IN BONAPAW—St. George Farm’s Channel Marker, Millennium Farms’ Great Mills, Ron Paolucci’s Expecting Cash and Calumet Farm’s supplemented Tour Guide have been named to match strides in an extremely competitive $75,000 Bonapaw Stakes at about 5 ½ furlongs over the Stall-Wilson Turf Course on Santa Super Saturday at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots.

Channel Marker, victorious in both of his last two turf starts, is conditioned by three-time Fair Grounds trainer champion Al Stall Jr. and will be ridden by Fair Grounds’ 2009-2010 jockey champion Shaun Bridgmohan.

Great Mills, two-lengths the best in his most recent start over the local lawn Dec. 1 and fourth in the 2012 Grade I Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, will have jockeyDavid Flores in the irons for 13-time local leading trainer Steve Asmussen.

Expecting Cash, runner-up in Keeneland’s Grade III Woodford last Oct. 5 is trained by Jonas Gibson, is owned by same connections that are expected to bring Looch Racing’s Grade I Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies adjudged winner Ria Antonia here for the Grade II Risen Star Stakes Feb. 22, and has seven-time Fair Grounds jockey champion Robby Albarado up.

Tour Guide, hero of last year’s $60,000 Sugar Bowl Stakes at Fair Grounds, has been supplemented to the Bonapaw by Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas and will be ridden by Leandro Goncalves this weekend.

Completing the Bonapaw field is Sum of the Parts, winner of last fall’s Grade III Phoenix at Keeneland and an unplaced contestant in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Sprint, Fair Grounds’ defending jockey champion Rosie Napravnik astride; J. Kirk and Judy Robison’s Mico Margarita, winner of Calder’s Grade III Carry Back last summer and third in the $100,000 Thanksgiving Handicap here Nov. 22, Ricardo Santana Jr. up; Rolling the Dice Stable’s Decisive Move, four times-claimed and a two-time winner in 2013 to be ridden by Miguel Mena; Billy Two Hats, Chris Landeros up; Artest, Richard Eramia aboard; Say No More, James Graham; Strong Impact, Alex Solis; and Hamiltonian, Kerwin Clark.

KING DAVID, DADDY NOSE BEST HEAD ‘BUDDY’ DILIBERTO MEMORIAL ‘CAP—Scarlet Stable’s King David, starting high weight at 120 pounds in the $75,000 “Buddy” Diliberto Memorial Handicap on Santa Super Saturday at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, and Cathy and Bob Zollars’ Daddy Nose Best, rated a pound lower, head an overflow field of 16, including four also-eligibles in the grass test at about 1 1/16-miles over the Stall-Wilson turf course.

King David, winner of Belmont’s 2012 Grade I Jamaica Handicap and runner-up in this year’s Grade III John B. Connally at Sam Houston Park, is trained by Mike Maker and will be ridden by Fair Grounds’ defending jockey champion Rosie Napravnik.

Daddy Nose Best, a two-time winner in stakes company last summer at Remington Park and most recently fifth in Churchill’s Grade III River City Handicap Nov. 23,is conditioned by Steve Asmussen, and will be ridden by jockey David Flores.

Completing the field is Compliance Officer, Alex Solis (118); Grand Contender, Gerard Melancon (118); Mr. Vegas, Miguel Mena (117); Skyring, Leandro Goncalves (117); Voodoo Storm, Brian Hernandez Jr. (117); Pure Tactics, Jamie Theriot (117); Derby Kitten, Shaun Bridgmohan (116); Hammers Terror, Robby Albarado (116); Adios Nardo, Mark Guidry (115); and Welloiledmachine, James Graham (115).

The four also-eligibles to the “Buddy” Diliberto Memorial are Street Serenade, Brian Hernandez Jr. (115); Marchman, Jamie Theriot (115); Strike Impact, Miguel Mena (114); and Sneaky Kitten, Chris Landeros (113).

CLASS INCLUDED, ARTEMUS KITTEN TOP BLUSHING K. D. ‘CAP—Brittlyn Stable’s Class Included, assigned the starting high weight of 119 pounds in the $75,000 Blushing K. D. Handicap on Santa Super Saturday at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, and Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Artemus Kitten, 118, head a field of nine older fillies and mares in the about 1 1/16-mile grass test over the Stall-Wilson turf course.

Class Included, trained by Ron Faucheux, was the six-length heroine of Delta’s $150,000 Treasure Chest Stakes in her last start Nov. 23 and fourth in Churchill’s Grade II La Troienne last spring.  Shaun Bridgmohan rides.

Artemus Kitten, trained by Mike Maker, will have Fair Grounds’ defending jockey champion Rosie Napravnik in the saddle.  The 5-year-old mare finished second in Arlington’s Grade III Modesty Handicap last July 13 but was then eighth in the Grade I Beverly D. Aug. 17 at that same Chicago oval.

Facing those two mares are Coffeepot Stables’ Imposing Grace, winner of last spring’s Grade III Arlington Matron, also with 118 pounds including jockey James Graham; Hill ‘n’ Dale Equine Holdings’ Irish-bred Twirl, seven-time Fair Grounds’ leading rider Robby Albarado up with 116 pounds; Brereton Jones’ Same Cross, Gerard Melancon (115); L. T. B and Miles Childers’ Honey Hues, Richard Eramia (115); James Greene Jr. and Hurstland Farms’ Heart  of Destiny, Miguel Mena (112); Bourque Goldstein Thoroughbreds et al.’s Bluegrass Sapphire, Mark Guidry (111); and Elm Racing’s Femme Fatale, Florent Geroux (111).