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Stakes Advances: Grade III Fair Grounds Handicap & Bayou Handicap

Daddy Nose Best Goes for Three in Fair Grounds 'Cap; Eden Prairie Seeks Hat Trick in Saturday's $60,000 Bayou Handicap; All-Stakes Pick-4 Offered on Races 8-11 on Louisiana Derby Preview Day

Cathy and Bob Zollars’ Daddy Nose Best, who bested Diamond Racing et al.’s Adios Nardo by a neck in the Grade III Col. E. R. Bradley Handicap Jan. 18 at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, does not have to face that rival again but will be challenged by eight other grass-favoring older horses in Saturday’s Grade III Fair Grounds Handicap to be contested at about nine furlongs over the Stall-Wilson turf course on Louisiana Derby Preview Day presented by Lamarque Ford in the Crescent City.

The Fair Grounds Handicap is the Crescent City oval’s designed prep for the upcoming Grade II Mervin Muniz Handicap on Louisiana Derby Day March 29.

Daddy Nose Best, who had previously won the $75,000 Diliberto Memorial last December 21 at Fair Grounds, must shoulder the top impost of 123 pounds in the Fair Grounds Handicap, most of which will be made up by three-time Fair Grounds defending jockey champion Rosie Napravnik.  Steve Asmussen, 13-time Fair Grounds trainer champion, is the conditioner of Daddy Nose Best.

Maribel Ruelas’s Potomac River may be a threat and is next in the weights with 118 pounds assigned, including jockey Juan Vargas.  Although a disappointing eighth in the Col. Bradley, the son of English Channel raced wide throughout.  Previously Potomac River captured Churchill’s Grade III River City Handicap Nov. 23.  Jose Camejo is the trainer.

Robert Evans’ Unitarian, trained by Eclipse Award-winning conditioner Todd Pletcher, is shipping to New Orleans from South Florida later this week after winning two straight at Gulfstream Park earlier this year.  He gets in light with 116 pounds including Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith.

Also in with 116 pounds is Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Gentleman’s Kitten, who is trained by Mike Maker and will be ridden by Joe Talamo.  Gentleman’s Kitten, by top turf sire Kitten’s Joy, won his last start here in allowance and $62,500 optional claiming company by 6 ½ lengths and was fourth in Fair Grounds’ $75,000 Woodchopper Stakes last November.

Dreamchaser Thoroughbreds’ Hard Aces won his two local starts in high-end allowance and optional claiming company this winter and won an allowance race at Churchill in November.  The 4-year-old son of Hard Spun is trained by Larry Jones and will be ridden by Robby Albarado with a 115-pound weight assignment.

Also in with 115 pounds is Jer-Mar Stable’s Slip and Drive, trained by Hugh Robertson, who will be ridden by James Graham.  Slip and Drive was sixth in the Col. Bradley but fourth in Aqueduct’s Grade III Red Smith Handicap last November.

Calumet Farm’s Skyring, conditioned by Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, will be ridden by Martin Pedroza and gets in light with 114 pounds after finishing ninth in the Diliberto Memorial in December.

Lothenbach Stables’ Mister Marti Gras and West Point’s Ground Transport are assigned 116 and 113 pounds respectively but are cross-entered in Saturday’s Grade III Mineshaft Handicap.

EDEN PRAIRIE SEEKS HAT TRICK IN SATURDAY’S $60,000 BAYOU HANDICAP—A fifth stakes race on Saturday’s gala program is the $60,000 Bayou Handicap for older fillies and mares at about 1 1/16 miles over the Stall-Wilson turf course.

Lothenbach Stables’ Eden Prairie, best by a length in the $75,000 Marie Krantz Memorial Handicap here on Jan. 18 after beating straight 3-year old fillies in the Pago Hop last November, and Brittlyn Stable’s Class Included, heroine of the $75,000 Blushing K D Handicap here Dec. 21, share the top impost of 120 pounds. 

In descending order of weight assignments, their challengers are Calumet Farm’s Irish-bred Starstruck, 119; Calumet Farm’s Channel Lady, 117; Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Awesome Flower, 115; Hill ‘n’ Dale’s Irish-bred Twirl, also with 115;  M & M Thoroughbred Partners’ Masquerade, 114; Peter Shappell’s Aggressive Elegance, 112; and Elm Racing’s Street of Gold, 111.

ALL STAKES PICK-4 OFFERED ON RACES 8-11 ON LOUISIANA DERBY PREVIEW DAY—As an added enticement on Saturday’s gala five-stakes program, an All-Stakes Pick-4 will be offered on races 8-11 on the 13-race card.