Home of the Louisiana Derby

Barn Notes: Sunday, March 16

IN TODAY'S NOTES: Intense Holiday Leads Louisiana Derby Prospects; Untapable, Unbridled Forever Set for Duel in Fair Grounds Oaks; Reminder: Annual Fair Grounds Crawfish Boil Upcoming March 24

Starlight Racing and Jack Wolf’s Intense Holiday, who won the Grade II Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots on Louisiana Derby Preview Day Feb. 22, is expected to return for the Fair Grounds’ $1 million Louisiana Derby March 29, centerpiece race of the 84-day meeting on the penultimate day of the 2013-2014 New Orleans racing season.

The sophomore son of Harlan’s Holiday, conditioned by Eclipse Award-winning trainer Todd Pletcher, launched a bold late bid to capture the Risen Star by a nose in the last stride, and updated his resume by breezing a bullet four furlongs in :48 flat Saturday morning at South Florida’s Palm Meadows training center.

Also expected back for the Louisiana Derby is Brereton Jones’s Albano, who made the pace in the Risen Star before being victimized with a nose loss to Intense Holiday in the last jump.  Trained by Larry Jones, Albano won the $60,000 Sugar Bowl Stakes here in the final start of his juvenile campaign Dec. 21 before finishing as the runner-up to Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Vicar’s in Trouble in the Grade III Lecomte Stakes here on Jan. 18.

Vicar’s in Trouble, trained by Mike Maker, returned to South Florida following his third-place run in the Risen Star, a race in which he was compromised by an outside post position.  However, the Louisiana-bred worked five furlongs in 1:00.40 at Gulfstream Park Saturday and is expected to return to New Orleans for the Louisiana Derby.

Winchell Thoroughbreds’ Gold Hawk, by Belmont Stakes winner Empire Maker and out of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies heroine Caressing, is bred to the purple but ran as green as Monday’s St. Patrick’s Day decorations when third in the Lecomte and fifth in the Risen Star.  Conditioned by 13-time Fair Grounds trainer champion Steve Asmussen, the bay colt is due to try again in the Louisiana Derby.

Paul and Andrena Van Doren’s intriguing Rise Up, who lost all chance in the Risen Star after breaking tardily but who won the Grade III Delta Jackpot with a six-length score Nov. 23, is being pointed for the Louisiana Derby by 10-time Fair Grounds trainer champion Tom Amoss.

Wesley Melcher’s Louies Flower, impressive when winning Remington’s $250,000 Springboard Mile Dec. 15 but not so when 12th in Oaklawn’s Grade III Southwest Feb. 17,will be given another chance to prove himself in the Louisiana Derby by trainer Bret Calhoun, who was inducted into Fair Grounds’ Hall of Fame last week.

Louies Flower is by Flower Alley, who won Saratoga’s Travers Stakes at 10 furlongs so his Florida-bred son can be expected to appreciate the nine furlongs of the Louisiana Derby.

West Point Thoroughbreds’ Commanding Curve, pinned down on the inside in the early stages of the Risen Star and forced to rally five-wide after being set down for the drive, is trained by Dallas Stewart and will be given a chance to make amends the Louisiana Derby.  He is by Master Command, winner of the Grade II New Orleans Handicap here in 2007.

UNTAPABLE, UNBRIDLED FOREVER SET FOR DUEL IN FAIR GROUNDS OAKS — Winchell Thoroughbreds’ Untapable, the 9 ½-length dominatrix of the Grade III Rachel Alexandra Stakes at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, has yet to match strides with Charles Fipke’s $125,000 Silverbulletday Stakes star Unbridled Forever, but those two fillies are on a collision course to meet in the Grade II Fair Grounds Oaks on Louisiana Derby Day March 29.

Five of the last nine Fair Grounds Oaks winners have gone on to win theKentucky Oaks, and Untapable and Unbridled Star were the first and third choices respectively in the Kentucky Oaks Future Wager.

Untapable, trained by Steve Asmussen, is the currently-active sole leader in points toward the Kentucky Oaks, and Unbridled Forever is a foal out of 2006 Kentucky Oaks winner Lemons Forever.  Both mother and daughter did and do benefit from training by master horseman Dallas Stewart, born in nearby McComb, Mississippi.

Also known to be readying for starts in the Fair Grounds Oaks at this early juncture are the late Clarence Scharbauer Jr’s Fiftyshadesofgold, trained by New Orleans resident Bret Calhoun and winner of the Houston’s $75,000 Two Altazano Stakes Feb. 15, as is Hill ‘n’ Dale Equine Holdings’ Got Lucky, the Todd Pletcher-trained runner-up in the Rachel Alexandra.

FAIR GROUNDS ANNUAL CRAWFISH BOIL UPCOMING MARCH 24—Fans of Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots as well as fans of the local seafood fare are reminded that Fair Grounds’ Annual Crawfish Boil will be held on Monday, March 24 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the West Grandstand.

Tickets are $30 per person in advance and $35 per person at the door for the Crawfish Boil which will benefit the Louisiana Horse Rescue Association.  Entertainment will include a live auction, a jockey crawfish eating contest, raffle prizes and music by Rick Mocklin & Jaquar.