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Barn Notes: Friday, March 28
IN TODAY'S NOTES: Pletcher's Trio Tuning Up For Saturday's Show; Reminder: Post Time for Saturday's Louisiana Derby Day at 12:30pm; FG Announcer John Dooley Readies for Unusual Derby Match-Up; Veteran Jockey Mark Guidry to Retire From the Saddle This Weekend
Starlight Racing and Jack Wolf’s Intense Holiday, who has been installed as the morning line 2-1 favorite in Saturday’s 101st running of the $1 million Louisiana Derby, arrived at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots Thursday shortly after noon along with Dogwood Stable’s Palace Malice, the 8-5 early line favorite for Saturday’s 90th anniversary edition of the Grade II New Orleans Handicap.
Conditioned by Eclipse Award-winning trainer Todd Pletcher, the two were also accompanied by WinStar Farm’s King Cyrus, a lightly-raced sophomore who will also run in Saturday’s Louisiana Derby – annually the showcase race of the season at the historic New Orleans oval.
Intense Holiday inherited his Louisiana Derby favorite’s mantle based on his late-charging nose tally in the Grade II Risen Star Stakes here Feb. 22. Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith rode him that day and will return for the mount in Saturday’s main event.
Palace Malice, hero of last spring’s Belmont Stakes as the final jewel of racing’s 2013 Triple Crown, returned to the winner’s circle in his first start and only trip to the post this season in South Florida’s Grade II Gulfstream Park Handicap on March 8.
King Cyrus, who broke his maiden by 11 lengths last summer, most recently finished second in South Florida’s Smooth Air Stakes at Calder on March 2.
“They all went to track this morning and I was really pleased with them,” said longtime Pletcher assistant Ginny DePasquale, who traveled with the horses on Friday morning. “Somehow we managed to dodge the raindrops and they all did really well.”
(Friday’s racing program at Fair Grounds was cancelled about an hour later by the stewards due to increasing thunderstorms in the area that were due to continue through Friday afternoon.)
REMINDER: POST TIME FOR SATURDAY’S LOUISIANA DERBY DAY AT 12:30 P.M. –Guests of Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots as well as fans of the Fair Grounds simulcast season are reminded that Saturday’s Louisiana Derby Day 13-race program will have a special early post time of 12:30 p.m. CDT.
FG ANNOUNCER JOHN DOOLEY READIES FOR UNUSUAL DERBY MATCH-UP – John G. Dooley, who mans the microphones at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, will have an unusual hurdle when he calls Saturday’s 101st running of the $1 million Louisiana Derby.
Breaking from the #6 post will be Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Vicar’s in Trouble, trained by Mike Maker, who won the Grade III Lecomte Stakes at Fair Grounds on Jan. 18 and then finished third in the Grade II Risen Star Stakes on Feb. 22.
In the gate four stalls to the outside of Vicar’s in Trouble will be a horse named In Trouble, owned by Team D and trained by Tony Dutrow. What if those two run right together all the way through the Louisiana Derby?
“I guess I’ll be able to handle that all right,” said Dooley on Friday when asked about the potential dilemma. “Two weeks ago here I called a race with one horse named John Louis’ Market and another named John Louis South and they ran first and second all the way around the track.
“I’ll just be looking for the distinct red cap of the Ramsey silks and take it from there.”
In Trouble, who won Belmont’s Grade II Futurity last fall, comes to Fair Grounds off a third-place finish in Aqueduct’s Grade III Gotham March 1 when beaten a half-length for all the money.
VETERAN JOCKEY MARK GUIDRY TO RETIRE FROM THE SADDLE THIS WEEKEND—Veteran Louisiana-born reins master Mark Guidry has announced that he will be retiring from the saddle at the end of Saturday’s Louisiana Derby Day program.
“I’m going to become a jockey’s agent and take the book of Carlos Marquez Jr, at Evangeline,” Guidry said Thursday after riding Ron Faucheux and Thomas Arnaud’s Off Cycle to victory in the sixth race of the day. “I’m excited about my new career. It’s time for me to stay around my home in the Lafayette area and spend more time with my family.
“However, I do want to thank all the Louisiana horsemen who have supported me throughout my career and put me on their horses. I really can’t thank them enough for all they’ve done for me.”
As of Friday, Guidry had 5,222 career wins, but was scheduled to ride Glen Warren and Andy Leggio’s 9-5 morning line favorite Skip the Pinot in the $60,000 Dixie Poker Ace Stakes on Louisiana Derby Day