Home of the Louisiana Derby

Barn Notes: Sunday, March 29



Both International Star and I’m a Chatterbox exited their respective wins in the Grade II $750,000 Louisiana Derby and Grade II $400,000 Fair Grounds Oaks in good shape, per their conditioners.  Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey’s International Star completed a sweep of all three sophomore graded stakes at the 2014-15 Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots meet when the son of Fusaichi Pegasus collared Todd Pletcher trainee Stanford in the stretch and dug in to post his most impressive victory to date and become a millionaire in the process.  The obvious plan for the Mike Maker trainee is to point toward the Grade I $2,000,000 Kentucky Derby on May 2.  Earlier in the meet, the New York-bred colt won the Grade III $200,000 Lecomte Stakes on Jan. 17 and the Grade II $400,000 Risen Star Stakes on Feb. 21.  The bay charge earned a 98 Beyer Speed Figure for his Louisiana Derby effort.

Fletcher and Carolyn Gray’s I’m a Chatterbox proved a popular winner when coming home victorious in the Oaks on Saturday afternoon and is being pointed toward the Grade I $1,000,000 Kentucky Oaks on May 1, according to trainer Larry Jones.  She will look to become the seventh of the last 11 Fair Grounds Oaks winners to go on to win the marquee American race for sophomore fillies.  Like International Star, the daughter of Munnings won all three major stakes for her division at the meet.  On Jan. 17, the chestnut filly romped in the $125,000 Silverbulletday Stakes, followed by a handy win in the Grade III $175,000 Rachel Alexandra Stakes on Feb. 21.


Clint Joiner, Matthew Bond and Jim Curry’s Call Me George exited his 22-1 upset in the Grade II $400,000 New Orleans Handicap in good shape, according to trainer Grant Forster.  The son of Point Given closed from the back of the pack to win the race under James Graham in the final jumps by a half-length.

“He looks great,” Forster reported.  “He really seemed to take the race well and he wasn’t even blowing that hard afterward.  He’s such a quirky guy.  It was neat to see him get a win like that.  We’ll probably run in the (Grade II $400,000) Alysheba (Stakes) on Kentucky Oaks Day (May 1) next. 

“We’d really like to try him at Belmont because of how poorly he runs the turns on mile ovals,” Forster continued.  “We’re looking at the (Grade II $400,000) Brooklyn (Handicap on Jun. 6) going a mile and a half for him on those big sweeping turns.”


John Wentworth’s Chocolate Ride exited his brilliant victory in the Grade II $300,000 Mervin H. Muniz, Jr. Memorial Handicap no worse for the wear.  A winner of three races at the meet, the son of Candy Ride won the Grade III $125,000 Fair Grounds Handicap in the same gate-to-wire fashion he successfully employed Saturday.  Winning by a hard-fought half-length under Joe Talamo, the dark bay gelding broke the track record with his time of 1:48.18.

“He came out really well.  He was a little tired, but that’s nothing you wouldn’t expect after setting a track record,” said Ricky Giannini, assistant to trainer Brad Cox.  “He seems happy and he ate up this morning.

“He’s leaving in a few hours for Keeneland,” Giannini continued.  “All of Brad’s Fair Grounds string is going to Keeneland and his Oaklawn (Park) horses are headed to Churchill (Downs).  (The Grade I $500,000 Woodford Reserve on May 2 at Churchill Downs) is the obvious next step, but it’s one step at a time.  He has had five races in four months and he’s a gelding – so we would like to have a horse who can run for a while.”

The Cox barn has had an impressive meet, despite only taking 14 stalls at the Fair Grounds meet.  Its $564,760 in earnings were good for 10th-best at the meet and its 14 victories were good for 13th-best.  Impressively, the Cox barn struck at 27% with a record of 51-14-10-4 – second only to David Carroll’s 28% for all trainers who started more than 20 horses at the meet.  With Giannini at the helm, the stable was a terror on the turf, leading with a 33% strike rate.      

“We had a great meet all around, but it’s always nice to have one like (Chocolate Ride) who stands out and wins a graded stakes,” Giannini said.  “We knocked out 14 wins and had an average of 12 horses all meet long.  In this business you have to keep all your owners happy - not just one – and we won at least one race for each of our owners.”