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Barn Notes: Sunday, December 29

IN TODAY'S NOTES: Gold Hawk Swoops Into Louisiana Derby Picture; Grant Forster Scores Training Double Saturday at Fair Grounds; Apprentice Jockey Ashley Broussard Rides Two Winners Saturday at FG

As if posting an early warning to those talented youngsters who will transcend into the coming spring’s 3-year-old crop on Wednesday, Winchell Thoroughbreds Gold Hawk, an impressive strapping son of 2003 Belmont Stakes winner Empire Maker, displayed his wares in New Orleans late in the afternoon Friday when winning an allowance and $50,000 optional claiming mile and 70 yard-affair at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots.

The bay juvenile conditioned by Fair Grounds defending trainer champion Steve Asmussen was patiently ridden by jockey Ricardo Santana, Jr., who tucked him in along the rail and allowed him to settle in ground-saving fashion well off the early pace of 23.91 and 48.08.   However, entering the stretch Santana took Gold Hawk off the rail and began circling those in front of him, brushed lightly with one rival despite left-handed whipping, gained the advantage at the sixteenth pole and then drew off late under Santana’s hand ride to win by 3 ½-lengths in a final time of 1:43.96.

“That horse,” recalled Santana in understated tones a day later, “is a very good horse.  He ran huge for me.  I took him back early to school him a little bit, teach him to rate and allow him to get some dirt in his face and he handled all that very well.

“But the thing that he really showed me was that he wants to go a lot longer,” Santana said.  “That race (Friday) was only a mile and 70 yards.  He was just drawing off on his own at the end.  I was not using the whip at all.  He was just reaching out in the late stages without me asking him for anything.”

Gold Hawk, who is out of Carl Pollard’s 2000 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies champion Caressing, made his first start at Churchill Downs Nov. 30 and broke his maiden that day with a 2 ¼-length score.

One possible caveat concerning Gold Hawk’s future at Fair Grounds in the series that leads up to the 100th renewal of the $1 million Louisiana Derby March 29 is that Winchell’s Asmussen-trained Tapiture, winner of the Grade II Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill Downs is also in residence at Fair Grounds.  Although no plans concerning the pair’s individual futures have been announced, it would make sense that one of them may be headed elsewhere to keep them apart as long as possible.

GRANT FORSTER SADDLES TRAINING DOUBLE SATURDAY AT FAIR GROUNDS—British Columbia-born conditioner Grant Forster, 39, enjoying his first winter campaign in the Crescent City after several previous winters at Oaklawn, saddled two winners for healthy payoffs Saturday at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, accounting for a significant portion of jockey Leandro Goncalves’ five-win afternoon in the process.

The trainer’s initial win came in the third race of the day with Ten Broeck Farm’s Soft Wind for a $26.80 win payoff, and he came back to the winner’s circle after the sixth with Ten Broeck’s Warm Breeze and a $23.60 return.

“I’ve never been stabled here before but I’m very excited to be here this winter,” said Forster.  “A change of scenery is always nice to have every once and awhile. We decided to come here this winter because we have some grass horses we’d like to run.  Also, we’re based at Churchill most of the year and this meeting here fits very nicely with their schedule up in Kentucky.

“Ten Broeck is owned by David Mowat,” Forster said.  “They bred (1996 Belmont Stakes winner)Editor’s Note.” 

Editor’s Note was conditioned by Hall of Fame trainer Wayne Lukas and ridden by former jockey Rene Douglas.

APPRENTICE JOCKEY ASHLEY BROUSSARD RIDES TWO WINNERS SATURDAY AT FG—Apprentice jockey Ashley Broussard, a 21-year-old Lafayette, Louisiana native riding at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots for the first time this winter, enjoyed the first two-win day of her fledgling career on Saturday in the Crescent City.  Both winners returned large payoffs.

Broussard won the second half of the Daily Double aboard Celia Smith’s Wild and Free, trained by Tucker Alonzo, for a $16.40 straight payoff and then wowed the crowd in Saturday’s finale astride Jody Taylor’s Carson’s Choice, conditioned by Mark Holden. That accredited Louisiana-bred gelding returned $109.60 for a $2 investment.