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Barn Notes: Thursday, December 19
IN TODAY'S NOTES: Trainer Tom Amoss Keeping an Eye on the Skies in Advance of Santa Super Saturday at Fair Grounds; Hall of Fame Trainer Lukas Enters Pair for Santa Super Saturday; Santa Super Saturday Also Family Day at Fair Grounds; Fair Grounds Jockey, Trainer Standings Through Sunday; Starlight Racing Returns Friday, First Post 5 p.m.
Native New Orleanian Tom Amoss, with 10 Fair Grounds’ training titles to his credit including his latest earned last season at the Crescent City oval, cross-entered Maggi Moss’s Grand Contender in both the listed $75,000 Tenacious Handicap at 1 1/16-miles on the main track and the $75,000 ‘Buddy” Diliberto Memorial Handicap at about a 1 1/16-miles over the Stall-Wilson turf course during Santa Super Saturday at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots.
Thursday morning, Amoss was still keeping his cards close to his vest when asked if he had decided between the Tenacious and the “Buddy” Diliberto handicaps.
“I’m going to follow the weather,” Amoss said, “but one thing is for sure. I’m going to run on the dirt.”
As of Thursday morning, the local weather forecast for Saturday predicted possible thunderstorms with a 30 to 40 per cent chance of participation with a high of 79 degrees during the day.
Grand Contender has never run on the grass. Victorious in his last three outings, the 5-year-old gelding most recently won the $150,000 Delta Mile on a fast track Nov. 23 by 3 ½-lengths, but before that came from off the pace in the slop at Indiana Downs in an allowance and $40,000 optional claiming affair Oct. 19 for a 1 ¼-length tally. He is the second high weight at 119 pounds among those named to the Tenacious ‘Cap, and third high weight at 118 pounds in the Diliberto Memorial.
SANTA SUPER SATURDAY IS ALSO FAMILY DAY AT FAIR GROUNDS—Future fans at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots will have entertainment of their own on the apron during this weekend’s Santa Super Saturday.
It is Family Fun Day in New Orleans at the Crescent City oval and from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday on the apron, the younger generation will be able to enjoy interacting with Equestrian Angel Miniature Horses on display for the first time at Fair Grounds. Youngsters will also be able to enjoy face painting, cookie decorating, crafts and coloring opportunities in Starlight Tent, and children under 12 will be admitted free.
HALL OF FAME TRAINER LUKAS ENTERS PAIR FOR SANTA SUPER SATURDAY—Hall of Fame Trainer Wayne Lukasentered two horses at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots for this weekend’s Santa Super Saturday program, and after the way his invaders performed here last season, his many local followers are urged to pay attention once again.
Last season, it was Calumet Farm’s Oxbow who came here from Oaklawn to annihilate all his rivals in the Grade III Lecomte Stakes by an 11 ½-length win margin. Four months later the unbelievers let Oxbow go off at 15-1 in Pimlico’s Preakness Stakes, which the Lecomte winner subsequently captured by 1 ¾ lengths to extend Lukas’s record in Triple Crown victories to 14.
One week after the Lecomte, Lukasshipped Calumet Farm’s Optimizer in from Oaklawn to capture Fair Grounds’ Grade III Col. E. R. Bradley, took him back to Arkansas for a brief stay but then brought him back to New Orleans to win the Grade III Fair Grounds Handicap.
This Saturday, Lukas has supplemented Calumet Farm’s Tour Guide to Fair Grounds’ listed $75,000 Bonapaw Stakes at about 5 ½ furlongs over the Stall-Wilson Turf Course. Tour Guide finished out of the money in his only start on grass, but he did capture last season’s $60,000 Sugar Bowl Stakes here on the main track when owned and trained by different connections.
Lukas has also entered Calumet’s Skyring in Saturday’s $75,000 “Buddy” Diliberto Handicap at about 1 1/16-miles over the local lawn. That homebred’s last victory also came on Preakness Day last spring when he captured the Grade III Dixie Handicap in Baltimore.
FAIR GROUNDS JOCKEY, TRAINER STANDINGS THROUGH SUNDAY —Both jockey and trainer standings at the current local racing season remained as hotly contested duels at the conclusion of Sunday’s program – the 15th racing day of the 84-day meeting.
Jockey James Graham had ridden 25 winners, two more than three-time defending jockey champion Rosie Napravnik, with Richard Eramia in the third spot with 17 wins – six more than David Flores, the veteran California-based reins master who is riding in New Orleans on a regular basis for the first time this winter.
In the trainers’ race, 13-time Fair Grounds leading trainer Steve Asmussen was credited with 10 winners, two more than Ron Faucheux and Bret Calhoun, tied for the runner-up position. Three trainers shared the fourth spot with six winners. They were 10-time Fair Grounds trainer champion Tom Amoss, last season’s fifth-place finisher Wes Hawley and last season’s eighth-place finisher Mike Stidham.
STARLIGHT RACING RETURNS FRIDAY: POST TIME 5 p.m. – Fair Grounds’ popular Starlight Racing series returns for the second of five special Starlight events this Friday with a first post of 5 p.m. Bucktown All-Stars will perform in the Clubhouse, and DVDJ DJ Crush will perform in the Miller Time Beer Garden. Grandstand General Admission is $5 and Clubhouse Admission, which also provides access to the Miller Time Beer Garden, is set at $10. A special 50% admission discount is available to all teachers, college students and employees, military and first responders with valid ID.