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Barn Notes: Friday, January 24

IN TODAY'S NOTES: Ria Antonia Going Where the Boys Are in Risen Star; Fair Grounds Hosts ROAP Certificate Program Saturday and Sunday; $172,006 Fair Grounds Black Gold Five Jackpot Carryover Pool Friday

As always – it’s an intriguing scenario when a filly is matched against “the boys.”

Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra – very familiar to fans of Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots – did it when she parlayed her 2009 Grade II Fair Grounds Oaks win to Grade I scores in the Kentucky Oaks and then on against male rivals in the Preakness, Haskell Invitational and Woodward later that year.

On February 22, guests of the Crescent City oval and fans of the Fair Grounds simulcast signal are on a course to witness that female-versus-male challenge again when Loooch Racing Stable et al.’s Ria Antonia is set to meet Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s dominating Grade III Lecomte hero Vicar’s in Trouble and others in Fair Grounds’ Grade II Risen Star Stakes on Louisiana Derby Preview Day.

Ria Antonia has not raced since her adjudged victory in Santa Anita’s Grade I Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies last Nov. 2, but after arriving in New Orleans Jan. 11 the well-made daughter of Rockport Harbor breezed a half-milein 49.60 here Jan. 18 and will breeze four furlongs once again Saturday.

“She loves it here,” said trainer Jeremiah Englehart’s assistant Elizabeth Dobles during training hours Friday morning.  Dobles, a 23-year-old miss from the Finger Lakes area of New York State, has been getting on Ria Antonia and handling her since she came to Englehart’s barn last fall.  “The best day of training we’ve had here so far was yesterday,” she added, “and today was just as good.  She’s on a schedule where we breeze her once a week and then walk, jog and gallop successfully in the days after her works.

“’Ria’ was just an average filly when she came to us,” Dobles said, “but about a week before the (Grade I) Frizette (Oct 5) at Aqueduct last fall (where she finished fifth) she started to show us what kind of filly we had.  Then we went out to California for the Breeders’ Cup and she ran a very good race there (finishing an impeded second by a nose before being awarded the victory.) 

“She kind of takes to anything,” Dobles said when asked if the unusually cold weather in New Orleans lately had affected the filly.  “It was warm in California when we went there last fall and since it’s gotten so cold here at Fair Grounds lately she enjoys that, too.

“Two weeks after California we gave her about 30 days off in Florida,” Dobles said.  “I went to Hong Kong with our horse King Kreesa (for Sha Tin’s Group I Longines Hong Kong Mile) but I got back with ‘Ria’ at Belmont and we breezed her three-eighths there (36.60 Jan. 5) before coming down here.

“She’s really very fresh right now,” Dobles said, “but she’s usually a laid back kind of filly.  When she first goes out on the track she starts playing a little bit, but once she really starts going she’s all business.” 

“I’ve been working for Jeremiah for four years, now,” said Dobles.  “When I first started exercising horses I thought I wanted to be a jockey, but now I realize I’d much rather be an assistant working with the horses and communicating with them.  It doesn’t matter to me whether they are worth $4,000 or $4 million.  I treat them all the same, but naturally there’s a lot more pressure with a horse like her.”

“Jeremiah will be coming down here Feb. 8,” Dobles concluded. 

FAIR GROUNDS HOSTS ROAP CERTIFICATE PROGRAM SATURDAY AND SUNDAY —Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots is hosting The Racing Officials Accreditation Program’s (ROAP) certificate program Saturday and Sunday.

It is a two-day course of general education and job-specific training modules for those interested in becoming a racing official or learning more about racing officials.

Additionally, a Stewards Continuing Education Seminar will be held here Jan 27-28 but is open to accredited officials only. 

$172,006 FAIR GROUNDS BLACK GOLD FIVE JACKPOT CARRYOVER POOL FRIDAY—Once again Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots offers the highest jackpot carryover pool in the nation on Friday – an impressive $172,006 carryover pool on its Black Gold Five.   The Black Gold Five is a Pick 5 on the last five races of the day.

Fair Grounds’ briefly conceded the highest jackpot carryover pool in the nation bragging rights to Santa Anita on Thursday when the west coast oval offered a Pick 6 carryover pool of $419,541 that paid out in increments of about $75,000 per winning ticket.

In the Black Gold Five, the carryover pool pays out only when there is only one winning ticket that correctly selects all five winners on the same ticket.