Home of the Louisiana Derby

Barn Notes: Thursday, February 20

IN TODAY'S NOTES: Emmett Park Suddenly Part of Risen Star Field; Fiftyshadesofgold to be Pointed Toward Fair Grounds Oaks

One man’s feast is another man’s famine, it is said, and so it was Wednesday when Gore Range Stable’s Emmett Park suddenly became part of the field for Saturday’s Grade II Risen Star Stakes Presented by Lamarque Ford at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots.

In this case, the man with the famine was trainer Doug O’Neill, who shipped the well-regarded Bond Holder, owned by Reddam Racing, across country last weekend as a West Coast invader for the Risen Star, only to have the horse come up body sore the day after arriving in New Orleans as a result of the rough flight.

That left a door open for Emmett Park to draw into the body of the Risen Star from the also-eligible list, so in this case the feast belonged to Emmett Park’s trainer Bob Pincins, although he would surely not be comfortable with that analogy.

“I would never wish anything unfortunate to happen to another man’s horse,” Pincins said once the die had been recast in the field for the Risen Star.  “However, these things happen, and I’ve been on the other end of that same scenario enough times since I first started training in 1976.

“I talked to the stakes coordinator (Scott Jones) before we even decided to come down here from Kentucky,” Pincins said.  “He warned me we might not make into the body of the race, but he also said that during the time he has been stakes coordinator down here there have been a number of horses who had been late withdrawals after arriving for one reason or another.

“We took a chance coming down here and it worked out for us,” said Pincins, “but we did have a ‘Plan B’ if things didn’t work out.  The Battaglia Memorial is next weekend at Turfway, and we would have just turned around and gone back up to Kentucky to run in that race.  That’s got a $100,000 purse but of course it doesn’t offer any points toward the Kentucky Derby the way this race here does, and if you think you might have a horse that might become good enough to run in the Derby you have to make sure you’ve picked up enough points along the way.

“I haven’t had many good ones in my career, but I like the way this one has been coming along for me and we’ll see how far we can go with him.” Pincins said.  “He’s undefeated so far and I think he’s improving.”

Both of Emmett Park’s wins have come over Turfway’s Polytrack course, and he has yet to compete over dirt, but the altered son of Bob and John has accomplished three works over the local oval since his arrival.

“I think his works have been fantastic,” said Pincins, speaking of Emmett Park’s half-mile move in 49.40 Feb. 4, his five-furlong work in 1:01 flat Feb. 9 and his second four-furlong breeze in 48.20 on Monday.  “He’s been doing good since we got here and I’m very pleased with him.”

Pincins, 62, grew up in New England and began worked at now-defunct race tracks like Lincoln Downs and Narragansett before getting his trainer’s license at Hawthorne and eventually gravitating to the Kentucky circuit.  He has trained “on and off” for Gore Range Stable for several years.

“Gore Range Stable consists of two people named Richard Emmett and Rudy Vogt,” Pincins said.

Where does the Park in Emmett Park come from?

“There is an Emmett Park in Virginia,” Pincins said, “and it is named in honor of Richard Emmett’s late father.”

FIFTYSHADESOFGOLD TO BE POINTED TOWARD FAIR GROUNDS OAKS —Saturday’s Grade III Rachel Alexandra Stakes on Louisiana Derby Preview Day Presented by Lamarque Ford at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots serves as the New Orleans oval’s designed prep for the Grade II Fair Grounds Oaks on Louisiana Derby Day March 29, and Saturday’s preview is shaping up tough enough.  However, the Fair Grounds Oaks is bound to come up even tougher, especially since trainer Bret Cahhoun has announced his intention to run Clarence Scharbauer Jr.’s Fiftyshadesofgold in the local Oaks.

“I thought we had a filly for the Oaks last summer,” said Calhoun Thursday morning, “but we had to stop on her in August and give her some time off.  But she certainly ran a good comeback race at Sam Houston last weekend so it looks like we might be getting back on track with her.”

After breaking her maiden by 10 lengths last spring at Lone Star, Fiftyshadesofgold won Churchill’s $100,000 Debutante June 22 by eight lengths, but the Texas homebred daughter of My Golden Song finished fourth in Saratoga’s Grade II Adirondack Aug. 11 following a rough trip that caused her to eventually be placed third.

Last Saturday she returned to competition in Sam Houston’s Two Altazano Stakes at seven furlongs and came from off the pace to draw off to a 2 ½-length tally.

“It was a good comeback race for her after the long layoff,” Calhoun said, “and the seven-furlong distance should set her up perfectly to go two turns in the Fair Grounds Oaks.  I think she looks like she might be even better going two turns.”