Barn Notes: Thursday, February 27

IN TODAY'S NOTES: Phat Day First Horse This Season to Get Four Wins; Rise Up, Grand Contender Both Doing Well Following Saturday Efforts; Fair Grounds Cancels March 10 Louisiana Derby Golf Tournament; Fair Grounds' New Star Guitar Bar Spotlights Sunbean's Ownership

When Maggi Moss’s Phat Day cruised home a 4 ½-length winner on the eve of last weekend’s Louisiana Derby Preview Day at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, the 7-year-old chestnut gelding became the first horse this season to register four wins at the local meeting.

Actually, Phat Day has now won five straight races with his streak beginning Nov. 1 at Churchill Downs, but locally it began on opening day Nov. 22 with a length and a half win in an optional $10,000 claiming event at 5 ½ furlongs.  On Jan. 3 the son of Five Star Day out of the mare Japanese Money won again going 5 ½ furlongs by a 4 ¾-length margin, and then again by a length and a half going six furlongs on Jan. 30.

Conditioned by 10-time Fair Grounds trainer champion Tom Amoss, Phat Day has had three-time Fair Grounds defending jockey champion Rosie Napravnik aboard for all four of Phat Day’s local scores, and interestingly, that’s the same win margin she enjoyedas this season’s current leading jockey over current runner-up rider James Graham entering Thursday’s program.

However, Phat Day’s local win streak has also left Tom Amoss with something of a dilemma.

“Obviously, not many people are going to want to continue to run their horses against him in that (optional claiming) series,” Amoss said, “so I think we’re going to have to take some chances with him and raise him up a little bit in class for his next race.   Still, he’s been a very nice horse for us since we claimed him last fall.”

RISE UP, GRAND CONTENDER BOTH DOING WELL FOLLOWING SATURDAY EFFORTS—Paul and Andrena Van Doren’s Rise Up, seventh in last Saturday’s Grade II Risen Star Stakes, and Maggi Moss’s Grand Contender, runner-up in the Grade III Mineshaft Handicap, both came out of their respective efforts on Louisiana Derby Preview Day in good order, according to trainer Tom Amoss.  However, the conditioner has not decided on definite future plans for either one of those two stakes campaigners.

“Rise Up came out of the Risen Star in good shape,” said Amoss of the Grade III Delta Jackpot winner, “but we didn’t learn a lot about him because he didn’t break well.  His race was over as soon as he left the gate.

 “I have no idea why he didn’t break well, but now we’re kind of painted into a corner with him,” said Amoss.  “We’ll look around to see what kind of stakes we might find for him.  The (Grade II) Louisiana Derby is certainly a possibility for his next start, but it’s not the only race we’ll be looking at.

“As for Grand Contender, we think a mile and a sixteenth might be just a little bit farther than he wants to go,” Amoss said of his 6-year-old Strong Contender gelding who also finished second in the 1 1/16-mile $100,000 Louisiana Handicap here on Jan 18,“so there will be no (Grade II) New Orleans Handicap for him.  We’ll look around for something shorter for his next start.”

FAIR GROUNDS CANCELS MARCH 10 GOLF TOURNAMENT —The Louisiana Derby Golf Tournament scheduled for March 10 at the Lakewood Country Club has been canceled because not enough teams signed up to participate, Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots has announced.

FAIR GROUNDS NEW STAR GUITAR BAR SPOTLIGHT’S SUNBEAN’S OWNERSHIP—Brittlyn Stable’s Sunbean has been installed as the odds-on choice in Saturday’s $60,000 Star Guitar Stakes and it’s not too surprising that Star Guitar, as the top all-time earner among Louisiana-breds,also raced in the Brittlyn silks of Evelyn and Maurice Benoit.

That Louisiana couple has always been known for investing heavily in Louisiana’s breeding industry and also is largely responsible for the decorating of Fair Grounds’ newly-designed Star Guitar Bar that sits just off the Fair Grounds paddock on the main floor of the grandstand at the Crescent City oval.

Sunbean, who won this season’s $150,000 Louisiana Champions Day Classic at Fair Grounds and was a contestant in last spring’s $1 million Louisiana Derby, has turned out to be a worthy successor to Star Guitar, but has a long way to go to duplicate his predecessor’s earnings.  Star Guitar retired with career earnings of $1,749,862 while Sunbean’s lifetime earnings to date are $498,900.