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Barn Notes: Wednesday, February 5

IN TODAY'S NOTES: The 'Can Man' Can, Does, and Did in Crescent City; Ria Antonia's Fair Grounds Future Still Undecided Wednesday Morning

These days, he’s known around the backstretch at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots as “Can Man,” and in his younger years as a New Orleans club fighter he was known as “Fast Quick,” but whatever the decade, native New Orleanian Adam Moore, now 68 years of age, has always been a survivor with some fascinating stories to share.

At the present time, he works on the backstretch walking hots and doing other odd jobs for trainer Bunky Richards and when those chores are done, he walks around the backstretch collecting cans for some additional income.

“I’ve offered him a place to sleep in my tackroom,” said Richards, “but he always turns me down.  He prefers to sleep under an overpass downtown somewhere, but he’s here to help out in my barn every morning and he’s a very good worker.  He’s also always been one of the happiest guys I know. 

“The other day he told me some guys had tried to rob him under the overpass,” Richards said with a laugh, “but he started staggering around shaking and acting like he was crazy.  Then he asked the robbers if he could borrow a dollar and they actually gave it to him.  He’s really a very funny guy once you get to know him.”

However, that’s Adam Moore today.  There once was Adam “Quick Fast” Moore, the noted New Orleans-based middleweight who fought  or sparred with the likes of Willie Pastrano, Tony Licata, Chuck Mince, Jerry Pelligrini and Percy Pugh, and it was that background that has a lot to do with Adam Moore becoming one of Fair Grounds’ legendary racetrack characters.

“I saw him fight a couple of times,” said Fair Grounds’ jockey agent Rick Mocklin, another native New Orleanian who like Moore was once a boxer with some 60-odd amateur fights to his credit.  “It was down at the St. Bernard Civic Auditorium where they used to have a lot more boxing programs than they do now.  He was very fast and he was very good and he had a big following among boxing fans all around New Orleans in those days.”

Moore remembers his boxing career very well, and spoke of it in matter-of-fact tones without any trace of bitterness when asked about it outside the racing office earlier this week.

“I always kind of liked to fight,” said Moore.  “I learned to fight here at The State Industrial School for Colored Youth and I was pretty good.  I was 35-5 in my career and I had 25 straight knockouts.

“But I guess I knew my career wasn’t going to go too far when they got me a four-round exhibition match against Tony Licata,” Moore said.  “They told me, ‘whatever you do, you can’t try to knock him out.’  I asked why I couldn’t do that and the man ran two fingers of his left hand up and down the skin of his right forearm.  I said, ‘What’s that supposed to mean?’ and he answered me by saying, ‘Because you’re black.’  Basically, they were telling me to let him beat me up for four rounds for $500.”

Fortunately, for many years, there was also Adam Moore the local longshoreman, both before and after his boxing career, and that’s where a good portion of his present-day income comes from.

“My Dad got me my first job on the river,” Moore said.  “I didn’t start fighting until I was 28 or 29, and when that ended for me I went back to being a longshoreman.  Then when things got a little slow on the river, I woke up one morning with no job.  I realized I had to find me a job and I found one walking hots at the old Jefferson Downs.  After that I went to Evangeline for a little while and then I came here to Fair Grounds.   I’ve been doing this for the last six or seven years or so.

“But I’m all right, I’ve got a big bankroll,” Moore concluded.  “I’ve got my social security check and I also get my retirement from being a longshoreman.   I don’t groom no more but I still hot walk and do handyman jobs.

“And I’m still ‘Can Man,’” he noted, “although not too long ago, someone back there told me I couldn’t go around collecting cans anymore.

“But I do it anyway,” Fast Quick added with a wink.

RIA ANTONIA’S FAIR GROUNDS FUTURE STILL UNDECIDED WEDNESDAY MORNING—Inquiring minds want to know, but they’ll probably have to wait at least until this weekend to find out what the immediate future may hold for Loooch Racing et al.’s Ria Antonia, winner of the 2013 Grade I Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies.

She arrived at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots last month to prepare for a start against male rivals in the Grade II Risen Star Stakes on Louisiana Derby Preview Day Feb. 22.  Then her connections considered an alternate plan of keeping her against the fillies of her own division with a start in the Grade III Rachel Alexandra Stakes that same afternoon, but following three days of lost training at the end of last month the champion filly’s Fair Grounds future appears even more undefined.

“She’s doing very well,” said Elizabeth Dobles, assistant to trainer Jeremiah Englehart onWednesday morning, speaking outside Ria Antonia’s backstretch barn.  “She breezed last Sunday, walked Monday, galloped Tuesday and jogged this morning.  We’ll probably work her again Saturday or Sunday.  Jeremiah will be here by then.”