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Barn Notes: Friday, March 6



There are many promising maidens stabled at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, but few raced as quickly as Charles Fipke’s homebred Lemon Drop Title did upon debut on Feb. 21 and even fewer have the looks and depth of pedigree that have his trainer Dallas Stewart hopeful that the son of Lemon Drop Kid could be something special. 

He’s definitely a very nice horse and one of the best-bred horses on the track,” Stewart said. “He’s an unbelievable specimen and has some talent.  Just looking at him, you can see it.  He has the pedigree and looks like he’ll stretch out.” 

By the aforementioned five-time Grade I-winning champion older male of 2000 and subsequently stellar sire, Lemon Drop Title is out of Title Seeker – an unraced Phipps Stable homebred daughter of 2001 Kentucky Derby winner Monarchos and the undefeated Hall of Fame champion and legendary racemare/broodmare Personal Ensign.  He is a half-brother to Seeking the Title, whose impressive record under Stewart’s tutelage included winning the Grade III Iowa Oaks, placing in the Grade I Gazelle Stakes, Grade II Fair Grounds Oaks and Grade III Monmouth Oaks and competing in the 2010 Grade I Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic.  Forward enough as a 2-year-old to be placed in the Ocala’s 2014 June Two-Year-Olds & Horses of Racing Age Sale, the bay colt failed to reach his reserve when the bidding ceased at $100,000.

“He came in a little late after the 2-year-old sale,” Stewart said.  “He had a chip taken out that was minor and came in a little behind.  He has been working brilliantly and is a beautiful mover.  We’ll take it a little slower with him and hope to get his maiden broken before we leave (Fair Grounds).  He was feeling so good after his first race that we took him to the track the second day and galloped him.  We usually walk them three days after a race.  I’ll do what’s best for him in the long run and develop him.”

In his aforestated first outing, the Kentucky-bred made an excellent appearance in the paddock alongside two ‘buzz’ horses, Stonestreet Farm’s Bret Calhoun-trained 8-5 race time favorite Harvey and Stewart Madison and Steve Landry’s Al Stall, Jr.-trained eventual winner and 3-1 second choice Yockey’s Warrior.  Drawing the rail, he broke alertly under Brian Hernandez, Jr., raced gamely throughout and then ranged up well to challenge in upper stretch before being outdistanced by the winner by 6¾ lengths and easily securing the place by 2¼ lengths.  The effort earned him an 84 on both the Equibase and Beyer Speed Figure scales – an impressive feat first-time out that would have won many six-furlong maiden heats this meet. 

If all goes well, two maiden special weight races in the condition book may be on Lemon Drop Title’s connections’ radar – a second attempt at the identical course and distance as his debut on Mar. 21 and one on Louisiana Derby Day (Mar. 28) around two turns going a mile and 70 yards.  On Friday morning, he worked a half-mile in :48.40 – good for fifth-best of 38 moves at the distance and three-fifths quicker than Yockey’s Warrior.


Thursday’s featured race – a six-furlong conditioned allowance that attracted the likes of stakes-quality horses Embellishing Bob, The Trunk Monkey and Night Maneuver – was keenly taken by Kendall’s Boy.  Having to fight for the win the entirety of the race under jockey James Graham for trainer Tom Amoss, the son of Sky Mesa fended off four others in a five-horse blanket finish to win by a head in a swift 1:10.82 on a cold and blustery afternoon. 

“It was a close finish between a field of very good horses.  He came out of it fine,” Amoss said of the Jerry Namy-owned 4-year-old bay colt.  “To win a race like that off the bench speaks for his future.”

Out of the stakes-winning Gold Token mare Golden Damsel and a half-brother to multiple stakes-placed mare Instant Style, Kendall’s Boy was purchased out of Keeneland’s September yearling sale in 2012 for $100,000 in the name of his owner.  Thought of highly enough to make his debut at Saratoga, he finished second to eventual Grade I winner and Eclipse Award finalist Havana in that event before graduating one race later in a Churchill Downs sprint. 

After a failed attempt at two turns and a synthetic surface in the Grade I $400,000 Dixiana Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland, Kendall’s Boy returned three months later on January 2014, to kick off his sophomore year in style in a six-furlong allowance at Fair Grounds.  An 11th-place finish in the Grade III $300,000 Southwest Stakes in February behind Tapiture and two more uninspiring efforts in March and June preceded an 8½-month layoff going into Thursday’s race. 

“I bought him as a yearling and it’s always nice to see a horse you picked out as a young horse and recommended to a client run a good race,” Amoss continued.  “I am hoping he moves forward from this.  We’ll see how things will open up in the spring, as far as his next race.  Sometimes those allowance races in Kentucky read like stakes races - so we’ll see how things go.”

Speedy 6-year-old mare Starship Duchess may have gazed through a race day bridle for the last time, according Louis Roussel, III, who owns and trains the chestnut daughter of Speightstown.  On Thursday at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, the mare sped an bullet half-mile in :47.40 and on Friday was entered in a conditioned allowance going 5½ grassy furlongs next Thursday that did not fill.  The race will be brought back Saturday as an extra for next Friday.

“Unless something comes up before the end of the meet, she will be retired,” Roussel said.  “It’s just a question of if this race goes or not.  I have been very fortunate to train her.  I already signed a contract to breed her to Candy Ride at the end of the month.”

A Kentucky-bred who has hit the board in 10 of her 15 starts – including nine top-two finishes – Starship Duchess exits a very game second in the $60,000 Mardi Gras Stakes on Feb. 17, in which she was wide throughout and missed by a neck to Brereton C. Jones’ Larry Jones-trained Divine Beauty, while finishing two lengths clear of graded stakes winner Street Story.  Twice stakes-placed, the six-time winner has discovered career-best form since returning to the dirt in her last two starts (after 11 consecutive turf tries), including an allowance win on Nov. 28 at Fair Grounds.  Her 105 Equibase Speed Figure earned in the Mardi Gras is a career-best.


Vinery Stables’ 2011 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint champion and multiple graded stakes winner Regally Ready has been installed as the 8-5 morning line favorite in what will be the 8-year-old gelding’s seasonal debut in Sunday’s featured allowance event over a grassy mile at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots.  An earner of $1,659,506, the son of More Than Ready has not been seen since finishing seventh of nine in the Grade I $500,000 Cigar Mile at Aqueduct.  Last year, the dark chestnut won six of 10 starts and reinvented himself as a stellar miler on both turf and dirt.  He has been working steadily for trainer Steve Asmussen, including two bullet moves in February.  Robby Albarado is to ride from post three.

Two graded stakes-winning turf horses looking to return to form are Team Valor International’s Infinite Magic (8-1) and Richard Duchossois’ General Election (12-1).  Each finished fifth and sixth, respectively, in a Feb. 7 conditioned allowance behind gate-to-wire winner Shining Copper.  Both Infinite Magic – now trained by Mike Stidham after five unsuccessful attempts for Wayne Catalano – and General Election were at their best in their sophomore years in 2013 and each won a graded turf stakes at Arlington International Racecourse in the process – the Grade III American Derby and Grade III Arlington Classic, respectively.  General Election, trained by Neil Pessin, would also go on to capture the Grade III Jefferson Cup at Churchill Downs.  James Graham is scheduled to ride Infinite Magic from post five, while Florent Geroux is slated to be atop General Election from post seven.

Not be overlooked and likely to vie for favoritism will be Two Dimes Stable’s Paroled (3-1), a 6-year-old son of Flatter who seems to be in career form for trainer Angel Montano.  Closing resolutely last out when missing Shining Copper by three-quarters of a length in the aforementioned allowance, the five-time victor won a rained-off 1 1/16-miles optional claimer one race prior – earning a career-high 97 Beyer Speed Figure – and could be a threat no matter the surface.  Brian Hernandez, Jr. rides from the rail.

Paul Van Doren’s multiple stakes winner Rise Up (3-1) was entered for the main track only, but has already proven to be lethal at this distance in a rained-off event.  The son of Rockport Harbor won the $60,000 Woodchopper Stakes on Dec. 27 over a sealed, sloppy mile for meet-leading trainer Tom Amoss, whose Farmers’ Almanac-worthy accuracy in predicting rained-off events has yielded four stakes wins this season.  Francisco Torres rides from post eight.

The remainder of the field includes graded stakes-placed Adios Nardo (Jamie Theriot, post two, 4-1), comebacking turf sprinter Channel Marker (Torres, post four, 10-1), promising two-time meet allowance winner Aztec Brave (Forest Boyce, post six, 8-1) and dirt sprinter Sandbar (Graham, post nine, 4-1), who is entered solely for the main track.