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Barn Notes: Thursday, February 6

IN TODAY'S NOTES: Commanding Curve Head to Grade II Risen Star; Albano, Divine Beauty Get Monday Breezes for Feb. 22 Assignments; Monkeys Riding Sheep Dogs Preview in FG Paddock Thursday Morning

West Point Thoroughbreds’Commanding Curve, a quickly-developing 3-year-old ridgling trained by Dallas Stewart, is now being pointed for the Grade II Risen Star Stakes on Louisiana Derby Preview Day Feb. 22.

“Yes, that’s where we’re headed with him (Commanding Curve),” Stewart confirmed Thursday morning during training hours when speaking of the designed local prep for the$1 million Louisiana Derby on March 29 at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots.  “This horse broke his maiden very impressively in his last start at Churchill Downs (Nov. 30) and he had very good five-furlong work when we first got him down here.

“Since that bullet five-furlong breeze (59.80 Jan. 5) he’s had three other six-furlong moves,” Stewart said.  “We plan on giving him a couple of more works between now and the Risen Star but we’re very pleased with the way this horse has come along for us and we’re looking forward to this next race (in the Risen Star.)”

Commanding Curve, out of a Lion Hearted mare, is by Master Command, who is remembered locally for winning the Grade II New Orleans Handicap in 2007 at Fair Grounds.

Stewart also confirmed his intention to keep Charles Fipke’s Silverbulletday Stakes-winning filly Unbridled Forever on the sidelines for the Grade III Rachel Alexandra Stakes Feb. 22 and wait to run her in the Grade II Fair Grounds Oaks on Louisiana Derby Day March 29.

ALBANO, DIVINE BEAUTY GET MONDAY BREEZES FOR FEB. 22 ASSIGNMENTS—Brereton Jones’s sophomore pair of Albano and Divine Beauty breezed Monday in preparation for their respective upcoming assignments in the Grade II Risen Star Stakes and the Grade III Rachel Alexandra Stakes on Louisiana Derby Preview Day Feb. 22 at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots.

Albano, winner of Fair Grounds $60,000 Sugar Bowl in December and runner-up in the Grade III Lecomte Stakes on Jan. 18, went five-eighths in 1:02 flat, while Divine Beauty, winner of the Letellier in December and runner-up in the Silverbulletday Stakes Jan. 18, went the same distance in 1:03.60.

Trainer Larry Jones was asked about the relatively slower move recorded by the filly in comparison to the colt’s final time.

“She’s done that to me once before,” said Jones in reference to the filly’s maintenance move, “but she bounced back from that work and ran a very good race for me.  Actually, I think Divine Beauty is a little bit further along in her training than Albano is right now.  She’s a little bit closer to where I want to be with her than he is.  But they’re both coming along well in their training lately and I’m very pleased with both of them.”

Also breezing in advance of the Risen Star on Monday was Winchell Thoroughbreds’ Gold Hawk, who went five-eighths in 1:00.60 for Fair Grounds’ 13-time trainer champion Steve Asmussen.

Last Sunday, Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Vicar’s in Trouble, winner of the $200,000 Lecomte andin the hands of Mike Maker’s assistant trainer Joe Sharp this winter, breezed a half-mile in 49.40 in advance of the Risen Star.

MONKEYS RIDING SHEEP DOGS PREVIEW IN FG PADDOCK THURSDAY MORNING —One of the highlights to be offered during Friday’s Starlight Racing program at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots will be an exhibition involving Spider Monkeys serving as jockeys aboard Australian Sheep Dogs, and a preview of Friday’s added entertainment was held Thursday morning in the paddock for the benefit of local media.

Former rodeo cowboy Tim Lepard, the owner-trainer-breeder of both the Spider Monkeys and the Australian Sheep Dogs, was on hand with his animals, dubbed Team Ghost Riders, and was interviewed by Paige Marcinek of the Fair Grounds marketing department.

In the course of that interview Lepard revealed that several of his dog-riding monkeys had appeared as half-time entertainment the home fields of the New York Giants, Denver Broncos and Cincinnati Bengals during this past NFL season.

Although the public was not invited to Thursday’s media opportunity, the attraction drew a large crowd of picture-taking Fair Grounds employees.

With that in mind, Fair Grounds fans planning to attend Friday’s Starlight Racing Program Presented by Miller Lite and Blue Moon are advised to bring their cameras or picture-taking cellphones.

First post time for Friday’s nine-race Starlight program is 5 p.m.