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Barn Notes: Thursday, March 6

IN TODAY'S NOTES: KY Oaks Favorites Likely to Face Off in FG Oaks; Jockey, Trainer Standings at Fair Grounds Through Third Quarter; Lanerie is Fifth Louisianan in Last 11 Years to Win George Woolf Award

It is with a sense of hometown pride that racing fans around the New Orleans area boast that five of the last nine Grade II Fair Grounds Oaks winners have gone on to victory in the $1 million Kentucky Oaks less than six weeks later on the eve of theKentucky Derby.

Now, judging by the results of this year’s Kentucky Oaks Future Wager, racing fans throughout North America favor an outcome that will make it six out of the last 10.

That’s because of the fact that when the Kentucky Oaks Future Pool concluded last Saturday, it was Winchell Thoroughbreds’ Untapable who was the 5-1 choice in the future pool for the 140th running of the race for 3-year-old fillies that will be run in Louisville, Kentucky, on May 2 at Churchill Downs.

That opinion was based largely on Untapable’s dominant 9 ½-length victory in the Grade III Rachel Alexandra Stakes at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots on Feb. 22 while under the guidance of Fair Grounds’ three-time defending jockey champion Rosie Napravnik. Her connections, including 13-time Fair Grounds’ trainer champion Steve Asmussen, have indicated that the $400,000 Fair Grounds Oaks on March 29 will be the Tapit filly’s final assignment prior to the Kentucky Oaks.  She breezed a half-mile on Monday (Lundi Gras) in 50.80.

However, there is another filly – Charles Fipke’s Unbridled Forever – that emerged as the 8-1 third choice in the wagering when the 2014 Kentucky Oaks Future Wager concluded, and she is also being pointed for the Fair Grounds Oaks as her final pre-Kentucky Oaks assignment.

Unbridled Forever won Fair Grounds’ $125,000 Silverbulletday Stakes on Jan. 18 by a length and a half but her trainer Dallas Stewart elected to bypass the Rachel Alexandra and wait for the Fair Grounds Oaks as her next step.  Interestingly, the 2006 Kentucky Oaks winner was Lemons Forever – also trained by Stewart – and Unbridled Forever is her daughter, foaled in Kentucky on April 23, 2011. 

Also, when Unbridled Forever won the Silverbulletday, she was ridden by Robby Albarado, the only rider in the long history of Fair Grounds to be its leading rider seven times.  The Unbridled’s Song filly breezed four furlongs last Saturday in 48.80.

JOCKEY, TRAINER STANDINGS AT FAIR GROUNDS THROUGH THIRD QUARTER —When the race-day concluded last Sunday at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, the first three-quarters of the 2013-2014 84-day meeting officially came to a close.

Three-time Fair Grounds defending jockey champion Rosie Napravnik was in front once again with 88 wins, six more than jockey James Graham, who has pursued her in the runner-up spot most of the season. 

All alone in the third position was jockey Richard Eramia with 65 trips to the winner’s circle. Shaun Bridgmohan, Fair Grounds leading rider during the 2009-2010 season, held down the fourth spot with 44 wins, two more than Robby Albarado, who has been Fair Grounds’ leading rider seven times during the course of his career.  Kerwin Clark (33 wins), Leandro Goncalves (31), Miguel Mena (30), Brian Hernandez Jr (28) and Chris Landeros (24) completed the list of the top 10 local leading riders at that time.

In the trainers’ race at the three-quarter mark of the season, 13-time Fair Grounds leading conditioner Steve Asmussen was well on his way to a 14th title with 45 winners at the meeting. 

New Orleans native Tom Amoss who tied for the title with Asmussen last season, held down the second position with 29 wins, four more than Larry Jones in the third spot. 

Bret Calhoun,who will be inducted into the Fair Grounds Hall of Fame next Wednesday during ceremonies following the races, was in fourth position in the standings with 23 wins, while veteran Fair Grounds trainer Wes Hawley was one win behind him in fifth position with 22.

LANERIE IS THE FIFTH LOUISIANAN IN LAST 11 YEARS TO WIN GEORGE WOOLF AWARD—Corey Lanerie, born in Lafayette, Louisiana, 39 years ago and based at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots for many winters before switching his tack to Gulfstream two years ago, has been named the winner of the 2014 George Woolf Memorial Award. 

He becomes the fifth Louisiana-born jockey in the last 11 years to win the award that recognizes riders whose careers and personal character earn esteem for both the individual and the sport of thoroughbred racing.

The others are Calvin Borel in 2010, Mark Guidry in 2006, Ray Sibille in 2005 and Robby Albarado in 2004.

Other Louisiana natives to have been recognized with the award since its inception in 1950 include Craig Perret in 1998, Kent Desormeaux in 1993 and Eddie Delahoussayein 1981.