Barn Notes: Sunday, January 12

IN TODAY'S NOTES: Smarty's Echo Works for Saturday's GIII Lecomte; Stewart Breezes Unbridled Forever Prior to Saturday's Silverbulletday; Fair Grounds Tops Nation With Highest Carryover Pool ($105,115) Sunday

Windy Hill Farm’s Smarty Echo worked a half-mile in company Sunday morningin preparation for Saturday’s Grade III Lecomte Stakes, centerpiece event of Road to the Derby Kickoff Day at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots.

“That work went really well for us,” said trainer Anne Smith, speaking outside her barn later in the morning.  “I don’t know if the clockers caught them both or not, but I know what I got him in.  He worked in blinkers and that seemed to help him focus a little bit.  I think now that we’ll run him in blinkers in this race coming up.  James Graham was aboard for the move today.  The other horse broke on top but ‘Smarty’ caught up to him before the wire.

“The other horse is a little more mature than ‘Smarty’ is at this time,” said Smith, known locally for preparing Windy Hill’s Nates Mineshaft to win Fair Grounds’ Grade III Mineshaft and Grade II New Orleans handicaps two years ago at the Crescent City oval.  “’Smarty’ is still just a little bit too playful.  Athletically, he is very talented and now we’re trying to get him to focus a little better to utilize that talent.”

Smarty’s Echo, a son of 2004 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Smarty Jones, has only made four starts so far in his career and all were last year during his juvenile campaign.  He finished third in his career debut over grass at Arlington Park, but then came back to break his maiden by a head Sept. 6 over that Chicago oval’s Polytrack course.  Moving on to Keeneland – again on Polytrack for the Grade I Breeders’ Futurity on Oct. 5, the Kentucky-bred chestnut finished second, beaten less than three lengths despite being steadied early and then racing wide. 

However, his next started in Santa Anita’s Grade I Breeders’ Cup Juvenile was a total disappointment where he was far back throughout before finishing 10th beaten 16 lengths.

“I don’t even like to talk about that race,” said Smith, who came up under two-time Kentucky Derby winning trainer Carl Nafzger.  “It was his first start on dirt and a whole bunch of other things went wrong.  The owners (Windy Hill’s father-son duo of Pete and Scott Reiman) were very disappointed.

“Hopefully, we’ve put that race behind us now,” concluded Smith.  “I was really encouraged by the way things went this morning.”  

STEWART BREEZES UNBRIDLED FOREVER PRIOR TO SATURDAY’S SILVERBULLETDAY —Fair Grounds-based trainerDallas Stewart, who saddled Horton Stable and Dallas Stewart’s Lemons Forever to win the Grade I Kentucky Oaks in 2006 for a $96.20 win payoff, is now hopeful of pursuing that sort of campaign with Charles Fipke’s Unbridled Forever, a precocious daughter of that champion.

To that end, the McComb, Mississippi-born Stewart breezed Unbridled Forever five furlongs in “a minute and change” Sunday morning at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots in preparation for Saturday’s $125,000 Silverbulletday Stakes on Road to the Derby Kickoff Day at the Crescent City oval.

The Silverbulletday, at a mile and 70 yards, is the first of Fair Grounds’ three-race sophomore filly series that concludes with the Grade II Fair Grounds Oaks on Louisiana Derby Day March 29, and five of the last nine Fair Grounds Oaks winners have gone on to win the Kentucky Oaks later in the spring.

Unbridled Forever, who broke her maiden Nov. 30 at Churchill by 5 ¼ lengths in her most recent start, has now been given three five-furlong moves since coming to New Orleans and Stewart is pleased with her progress.

“She’s hit the mark we’ve set for her three weeks in a row now,” said Stewart, one of the first in a solid core of successful conditioners who came up under Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas.  “I’m very happy with her fitness level now since we gave her a little bit of time coming into this race.”

Did Unbridled Forever remind Stewart of her mother?

“She’s fast just like her mother,” Stewart said, “and we’ve been stretching her out in her works to get her ready to go a mile and 70 yards this time.”

FAIR GROUNDS LEADS NATION WITH HIGHEST CARRYOVER OF $105,115 SUNDAY—A Black Gold Five Carryover pool that had swelled to $105,115 for Sunday’s nine-race program at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots ranked as the highest carryover pool available in the nation entering Jan. 12 racing programs.

The Black Gold Five is Fair Grounds’ label for its Pick-5 pool available on the last five races of any given racing day at the local oval.

To win the jackpot, Fair Grounds fans or simulcast customers around the country must not only pick the last five winners on a single ticket but also be the lone lucky bettor nationwide to have that winning ticket