Barn Notes: Sunday, February 23

IN TODAY'S NOTES: Risen Star Stakes - The Morning After; Rachel Alexandra Stakes - The Morning After

Starlight Racing and Jack Wolf’s Intense Holiday got up by a nose to win Saturday’s Grade II Risen Star Stakes Presented by Lamarque Ford at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, and on Sunday morning on his way out of town Wolf was looking forward to coming back with wife Laurie for the $1 million Louisiana Derby March 29, especially after dining once at La Petite Grocery and once at Arnaud’s during their brief but highly successful Crescent City sojourn.

“That the ‘game plan’ right now,” said Wolf, speaking of the Louisiana Derby and their presumed second visit to New Orleans at the end of March.  “We talked to (trainer) Todd (Pletcher) about it and he’s on board with it, and we talked to (jockey) Mikey (Smith) and he says he’s open.  Intense Holiday seemed to like the track here.  The long stretch here seemed to suit him, so – the good Lord willing – the horse keeps going like he is, it looks like a good plan.”

Brereton Jones’s Risen Star runner-up Albano will also try again in the Louisiana Derby, trainer Larry Jones said Sunday morning. “He ran a great race yesterday,” said Jones.  “I was very pleased with the way he ran.  He just got beat in the last jump.  I just don’t like this ‘déjà vu’ stopping us all the time.”

Albano is a half-brother to Brereton Jones’s Mark Valeski, runner-up by narrow margins in the Risen Star and the Louisiana Derby two years ago.

“Albano reminds me so much of Mark,” Jones said.  “He looks just like him and he acts just like him.  I just hope we don’t get the same result in the next round like we did two years ago.”

Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Vicar’s in Trouble, who won Fair Grounds’ Grade III Lecomte Stakes last month and finished third in the Risen Star, 5 ½-lengths behind the top two, also came out of Saturday’s race in good order, despite being handicapped by an outside post position.

“Obviously, (the post position) wasn’t ideal for us,” said Mike Maker’s assistant trainer Joe Sharp Sunday morning, “but I thought our horse ran a good race and he definitely came out of it well and is doing well this morning.  We haven’t decided anything for sure quite yet about his next race.”

Mike Pegram et al.s Hoppertunity, fourth in the Risen Star, also ran a good race and came out of it well.

 “I thought our horse ran a great race,” said Bob Baffert’s assistant trainer Jimmy Barnes Sunday morning, “especially since it was only the third start of his career.  He seemed to like the track here and I think he showed he might be better at a longer distance.” 

The Risen Star was run at 1 1/16-miles, but the upcoming Louisiana Derby will be contested at a mile and an eighth.

RACHEL ALEXANDRA STAKES – THE MORNING AFTER —Winchell Thoroughbreds’ Untapable looked like a winner as soon as the field of sophomore fillies entered the stretch in Saturday’s Grade III Rachel Alexandra Stakes at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, and all she did the rest of the way was increase her advantage.

“Yes, we thought she ran a great race,” said Winchell Thoroughbreds’ farm manager David Fiske on Sunday morning, speaking over the phone from the Kentucky farm.  “We were very pleased.” 

As the local oval’s final tune-up for the Grade II Fair Grounds Oaks March 29, the next question was whether the handsome daughter of Tapit would remain at Fair Grounds for the local Oaks and put herself in the position to become the sixth Fair Grounds Oaks winner out of the last 10 to go on to victory in the Kentucky Oaks later in this spring on the day before the Kentucky Derby.

“Yes, I would think we’ll be pointing her to the Fair Grounds Oaks,” said Fiske, “assuming everything continues to go right with her between now and then.  In fact, the Fair Grounds Oaks is on March 29, and that’s Ron Winchell’s birthday.”

Hill ‘n’ Dale Equine Holdings’ Rachel Alexandra runner-up Got Lucky, trained by Todd Pletcher, also came out of Saturday’s test without problems, according to Pletcher assistant Ginny DePasquale.  “She was doing fine this morning when she left at about 4 a.m.,” said DePasquale

Connie Apostelos’ Shanon Nicole, third in the Rachel Alexandra, also came out of the race in good order, according to assistant trainer Joe Sharp on Sunday morning.  “I thought our filly ran great, but, of course, Steve’s (trainer Asmussen of Untapable) filly was really impressive.”

Loooch Racing et al.’s Ria Antonia, fourth in the Rachel Alexandra, was also in fine fettle Sunday morning, according to trainer Jeremiah Englehart’s assistant Elizabeth Dobles. 

“She’s fine this morning,” said Dobles.  “I definitely think she needed that race yesterday.  I would certainly hope we’ll be sticking around for the next round with her.”

Would that be in the Fair Grounds Oaks, or a start against the boys in the Louisiana Derby?

“I think they will be making a decision in a couple of days about that,” said Dobles.