Home of the Louisiana Derby

Barn Notes: Thursday, March 5

@AdolphsonRacing

IN TODAY'S NOTES
*CALHOUN AND SHARP CLOSING GAP ON AMOSS
*WEST COAST BELLE TO MOVE ON, KENTUCKY OAKS STILL GOAL


CALHOUN AND SHARP CLOSING GAP ON AMOSS
A veteran and a freshman trainer are closing the gap on Tom Amoss, the longtime 2014-15 Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots meet’s leading conditioner.  Amoss, who has had two days this meet with three or more wins, is currently striking at a rate of 31% (35 wins) from 112 starters and is on the cusp of breaking $1 million in meet earnings going into Thursday’s card.  Already a 10-time meet champion, his 35-win current mark already eclipses three of those titles.

Gaining momentum after a slow start to the meet, two-time Breeders’ Cup-winning conditioner Bret Calhoun has been playing the quantity game as he is second only to defending champion trainer Steve Asmussen in starts (161) going into Thursday’s card, while striking at a 16% rate (26 wins).  The veteran trainer, who finished 11th nationally in wins in 2014, has made up the most ground in the last two months of any trainer and could be a major threat to Amoss in this final month of racing. 

Thirty-year-old first-year trainer Joe Sharp has had an impeccable first meet as a head conditioner, saddling 27 winners for a strike rate of a meet-leading 33%.  Previously a Mike Maker assistant, Sharp also leads in in-the-money rate (71%) and could be loaded for bear going into this weekend. 

For this sixteenth week of the Fair Grounds meet, Amoss has starters in nine races, Calhoun in 10 and Sharp in 11.  In seven of those races, two of the three compete against one another and in only one event do all three compete – the fourth race on Sunday’s card.


WEST COAST BELLE TO MOVE ON, KENTUCKY OAKS STILL GOAL

Two-time stakes winner and undefeated three-for-three juvenile of 2014, West Coast Belle has exited her sixth-place effort in the Grade III $175,000 Rachel Alexandra on Feb. 21 in good order, according to trainer Wayne Catalano.  The Gary and Mary West homebred returned to the worktab on Thursday morning at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots with a bullet half-mile in :47.40.

“She works well and it was a maintenance half-mile,” Catalano said.  “I’m just thinking she really doesn’t like the track that much.  I don’t know why she doesn’t handle it in the afternoons, but I can’t see anything else to hang our hat on.  I gave her the benefit of the doubt the first time, but after the second time – we know she’s better than that.”

After her undefeated season where she won two stakes over the Churchill Downs surface – the $62,800 Rags to Riches Stakes and the Grade II $200,000 Golden Rod Stakes – the daughter of Tapit made her sophomore debut in the Listed $125,000 Silverbulletday Stakes and ran a late-gaining, but well-beaten fourth.  Last out in the Rachel Alexandra, she was toward the rear of the field and only gained moderately.  Both efforts were in stark contrast to her quick-closing triad of successful juvenile efforts.

“We’ll probably look at something like the (Grade I $500,000 Ashland Stakes at Keeneland on Apr. 4),” Catalano continued.  “The (Grade I $1,000,000 Kentucky) Oaks (on May 1) is still our goal.”

The two-time Breeders’ Cup-winning conditioner also mentioned that Donegal Racing’s Irish You Well exited his comeback effort in the Grade III $125,000 Mineshaft Handicap on Feb. 21 in equally as fine an order.  The son of Broken Vow will look for an allowance event to get his confidence back before heading back into stakes company.  The Mineshaft effort was the well-regarded colt’s first since finishing fourth in the Grade I $1,000,000 Haskell Invitational behind subsequent Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Bayern.