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Barn Notes: Sunday, February 9
IN TODAY'S NOTES: Ria Antonia Back on Track for Rachel Alexandra; Lecomte Winner Vicar's In Trouble Works Sunday for Risen Star Stakes; Post Time Change to 1:25 p.m. Beginning Thursday
Christopher Dunn and Loooch Racing’s 2013 Grade I Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies winner Ria Antonia appears to be back on course for a start in the Grade III Rachel Alexandra Stakes at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots Feb. 22 as part of the Crescent City oval’s five-stakes Louisiana Derby Preview Day program.
On Sunday, the daughter of Rockport Harbor accomplished a five-furlong breeze in company in 1:01.80 under the watchful eyes of her trainer Jeremiah Englehart and principal owner Ron Paolucci. She seemed well within herself while under a good hold from her exercise rider Elizabeth Dobles. Workmate Bump Bump, a 3-year-old maiden filly also owned by Loooch Racing and ridden by jockey Brian Hernandez Jr., broke about a length and a half in front of Ria Antonia but her final time was clocked 1:02.60 at the wire.
“She (Ria Antonia) couldn’t have done it much easier than that,” said Paolucci. “She (Dobles) had a good hold on her and I really liked the way she galloped out.”
Ria Antonia, idle since her Breeders’ Cup win, had been originally penciled in to make her first start as a sophomore against male rivals in the Grade II Risen Star Stakes on Louisiana Derby Preview Day, but following three days of lost training during a rare cold snap in New Orleans that plan was abandoned.
“It looks like the Risen Star is going to come up with a big field,” said Paolucci. “Since this will be her first start back, I thought the smaller field (in the Rachel Alexandra) might be a little easier on her.”
At the conclusion of Sunday’s move trainer Englehart, who first visited the Fair Grounds several years ago but has been absent most of this winter, took a moment to survey the track’s conformation before returning to the barn area.
“I remember realizing how long the stretch run was when I came here before,” said Englehart, “and with the long stride this filly has I thought this would be the perfect place to bring her to get her started on her 3-year-old campaign. Of course, our real goal this season is three or four races down the road, so this race coming up will give us a chance to see exactly where we are with that plan.”
LECOMTE WINNER VICAR’S IN TROUBLE WORKS SUNDAY FOR RISEN STAR STAKES —Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Vicar’s in Trouble, who won the Grade III Lecomte on Jan. 18 on Road to the Derby Kickoff Day at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, breezed five furlongs in 1:00.60 Sunday morning at the New Orleans oval in preparation for the Grade II Risen Star Stakes, second leg of the series that will be contested as the centerpiece race during the upcoming Louisiana Derby Preview Day Feb. 22.
The local sophomore series will conclude with the 100th renewal of the $1 million Louisiana Derby at nine furlongs on March 29, penultimate day of the current 2013-2014 Fair Grounds season.
This winter, Vicar’s in Trouble has been under the care of Joe Sharp, assistant to trainer Mike Maker.
Other works recorded Sunday at Fair Grounds in preparation for Louisiana Derby Preview Day included a one-mile move by Fox Hill Farms’ Cassatt recorded in 1:39.60 for trainer Larry Jones in preparation for the Grade III Rachel Alexandra Stakes, the final local designed prep for the Grade II Fair Grounds Oaks on Louisiana Derby Day.
Two older horses breezed Sunday in preparation for the Grade III Mineshaft Handicap on Feb. 22. The Mineshaft is the designed prep for the Grade II New Orleans Handicap on Louisiana Derby Day.
Jim Tafel’s Fordubai, who won the $100,000 Louisiana Handicap Jan. 18 and is trained by Greg Geier, breezed a bullet five furlongs in 1:00.40.
Lothenbach Stables’ Mister Marti Gras, who finished fifth in last year’s Mineshaft and fourth in the New Orleans Handicap, worked six furlongs handily in a bullet 1:14.60 for conditioner Neil Pessin.
REMINDER: POST TIME CHANCE TO 1:25 P.M. BEGINNING THURSDAY—Guests of Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots and fans of the Fair Grounds simulcast signal are reminded that as of Thursday, post time for regular daytime cards at the New Orleans oval will be moved to 1:25 p.m.
The one remaining Starlight Racing Program March 14 will remain at 5 p.m. and the special Louisiana Derby Preview Day Program Feb. 22 as well as the special Louisiana Derby Day Program March 29 will remain at 12:30 p.m.