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STAKES ADVANCE: Mardi Gras Stakes

The $60,000 Mardi Gras Stakes at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots has attracted a trio of stakes winners among its six entrants, spearheaded by the return of Whispering Oaks Farm’s Street Story – a graded stakes-winning 4-year-old filly from the barn of Steve Flint who has not raced since finishing last in the Grade I $500,000 Test Stakes after washing out badly.  The Mardi Gras has also attracted stakes winners Divine Beauty and Kiss to Remember in what promises to be a highly competitive renewal of the six-furlong event for fillies and mares.

            Prior to Street Story’s poor showing at the highest level, she annexed the Grade III $150,000 Victory Ride Stakes at Belmont Park in June and a pair of minor stakes at Oaklawn Park – both going the Mardi Gras distance.  When last seen at Fair Grounds, she was beaten by Mardi Gras rival Divine Beauty by 6½ lengths in last season’s $60,000 Letellier Memorial after a five-month layoff in what was her first start out of the maiden ranks.  Florent Geroux rides from post three.

            Brereton C. Jones’ Divine Beauty comes into the Mardi Gras in fine form for the white-hot barn of trainer Larry Jones.  The daughter of Divine Park impressively won an allowance on Nov. 30 by four lengths under regular rider Kerwin Clark before setting the pace and retreating to third in the $60,000 Pago Hop behind favored Kiss to Remember on Dec. 27.  The Pago Hop was her third attempt at a distance beyond six panels in a sextet of career starts.  In the Mardi Gras, she will break from post four under Clark at a distance over which she is three-for-three. 

            Maggi Moss’ Tom Amoss-trained Kiss to Remember may not be a graded stakes winner, but she is arguably the most accomplished filly entered in the Mardi Gras.  A two-time stakes winner, the Maryland-bred has placed in four other added money events and earned $335,436.  The daughter of Big Brown exits a poor showing at 1 1/16 miles – a distance slightly beyond her range – in the $400,000 Houston Ladies Classic behind well-regarded Jones trainee Cassatt and returns to one-turn dirt sprinting for the first time since winning a seven-furlong Churchill Downs allowance in June.  James Graham rides from post six. 

            Completing the field for the Mardi Gras Stakes are Team Valor International’s multiple stakes-placed Table Three Ten (Robby Albarado, rail) from the always-dangerous Mike Stidham barn, her recent allowance conqueror in Louis Roussel, III’s Starship Duchess (Richard Eramia, post two) and Roy Investments’ well-bred recent claim Lorelei True (Miguel Mena, post five).