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Barn Notes: Sunday, March 2

IN TODAY'S NOTES: FG's Mardi Gras Stakes Tuesday Comes Up Strong; Single Black Gold 5 Ticket Returns $463,219 Saturday; Sunbean Continues to Impress in Saturday's Star Guitar Stakes

This week highlights one of only two Tuesday racing days of the current season at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots in honor of New Orleans’ Mardi Gras holiday.  However, on the same day that kicks off the last quarter of the local 84-day meeting, the featured 71st running of the $60,000 Mardi Gras Stakes has come up as one of the most competitive races of the 2013-2014 Crescent City season.

The most obvious aspect of the grass dash for older fillies and mares at about 5 ½ furlongs over the Stall-Wilson turf course is the rematch between Dream Walkin’ Farms’ seemingly ageless mare Seeking Ms Shelley and Richard and Bertram Klein’s Good Deed, defending champion from last season’s Mardi Gras which was run on the main track.

In their last starts, Seeking Ms Shelley and Good Deed finished first and second respectively – a length and a half apart – in Fair Grounds’ $75,000 Pan Zareta Stakes on Jan. 4, but during training hours Sunday morning the conditioners of both mares exuded confidence in their charges going into Tuesday’s rematch.

“My mare is doing just super right now,” said trainer Joe Duhon, who has guided the 8-year-old Seeking Miss Shelley to four straight wins, beginning with Oaklawn’s $60,000 Spring Fever Stakes last year and concluding with her Pan Zareta tally.  “She has never been better than she is right now.  She’s doing even better than she was going into the Pan Zareta.”

Jockey Roman Chapa, aboard Seeking Ms Shelley for her last three wins, returns in the irons once again.

Conditioner Steve Margolis, the tutor of Good Deed, predicts an improved race for Good Deed.

“She was just a little fresh in that last race because of her (six-month) layoff,” said Margolis of Good Deed.  “I expect some improvement now that she has that one under her belt.  Also, we’ve got a good post (#3) considering the race has such a big field and I expect that will work to our advantage.”

Regular rider Shaun Bridgmohan will handle the reins on Good Deed once again.

However, both Duhon and Margolis are aware that Tuesday’s Mardi Gras Stakes is more than a two-horse rematch. 

Martin Racing and Morgan Thoroughbreds’ Cozze Up Lady, trained by Bret Calhoun, is quite capable of upsetting the top two.  She’s coming off an eight-month layoff but two years ago she came off a nine-month layoff to reach the winner’s circle once again in her return.  The 5-year-old daughter of top turf sire Cozzene also gets the riding services of Fair Grounds’ three-time defending jockey champion Rosie Napravnik Tuesday.

Starship Duchess, owned and trained by Louie Roussel, has won her last two turf races here on less than firm ground by a combined total of nine lengths, including a 3 ½ length tally sprinting in her most recent start and gets James Graham in the saddle. Brereton Jones’s Same Cross, trained by Larry Jones with Kerwin Clark up, is always dangerous, especially if the Mardi Gras was to be taken off the turf and run on the main track.

SINGLE BLACK GOLD FIVE TICKET RETURNS $463,219 SATURDAY—One lucky ticket holder off-site collected the season’s highest single ticket payoff of $463,219 as the only holder of Saturday’s Black Gold 5 after investing $1,764  on the wager which singled the winner of the final race on the program.

However, that was not the largest Black Gold 5 carryover pool on record.  Last season, on closing day at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, there was a mandatory payout on a jackpot carryover pool of $474,420.

The Black Gold 5 is a pick 5 wager at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, but the carryover pool is only paid out when there is a single winning ticket sold.

SUNBEAN WINS AGAIN IN STAR GUITAR STAKES—Brittlyn Stable’s homebred Sunbean galloped home by a less-than-fully-extended 2 ¾-lengths in Saturday’s $60,000 Star Guitar Stakes at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots.

Fittingly, Star Guitar, who retired as the largest purse earner of all-time among accredited Louisiana-breds, was also owned and bred by the Brittlyn Stable of Evelyn and Maurice Benoit, and they are also largely responsible for the popular newly-designed Star Guitar Bar on the main floor of the grandstand at Fair Grounds.

“Sunbean continues to impress me,” said his trainer Ron Faucheux on Sunday morning.  “He came out of his race Saturday in good order and I’m extremely satisfied and happy with the way he has run for me.”

What might be next for Sunbean?

“We don’t have a plan right now,” said Faucheux.