Home of the Louisiana Derby

BARN NOTES: November 22, 2015

  • ·        Torres Lands First 4-Bagger of Meet
  • ·        Midnight On Oconee Impresses
  • ·        Speightsong, Forster Ready to Give Thanks
  • ·        Work Tab



Veteran jockey Francisco Torres is off to a hot start in the first three days of the 2015-16 Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots meet, including landing the meet’s first 4-bagger on Saturday afternoon. The Chicago native has struck with a meet-leading six of his first 17 mounts (35%) and leads all riders in purses-earned with $134,475. The 46-year-old is one win ahead of Florent Geroux and two above Colby Hernandez, who was riding at Delta on Saturday afternoon.

Torres, who finished in a three-way tie for second behind James Graham last season with Geroux and Miguel Mena, is represented by Derek Ducoing and took down the second, fifth, seventh and nightcap on Saturday.

A multiple graded stakes-winning journeyman, Torres had arguably his most impressive victory with Hugh Robertson’s Lovable Lyss in the seventh race – an open maiden for 2-year-old fillies. Making her second start after a runner-up effort behind subsequently stakes-placed Carita at Arlington in August, the daughter of Big Brown stalked favored Sophieshardtocatch over the sloppy going through legitimate fractions of 22.20 and 46.18 before pulling clear with authority and holding off Abundant Flurry for a 3¾-length victory in 1:11.19.

Always proficient with young horses, Torres also won the other two maiden special weights on Saturday, the third and 10th races for Louisiana-bred 2-year-olds, as well as a maiden claiming event in the second race for a clean sweep of all four maiden events on the Saturday card.


Cottonwood Stables’ homebred juvenile filly Midnight On Oconee made it a perfect 1-for-1 for trainer Larry Jones at the 2015-16 Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots meet when the daughter of Midnight Lute spurted clear of her rivals for a three-length tally in Saturday’s ninth race, an allowance optional claiming event.

Ridden by Jose Riquelme, the dark bay filly was making her third start after debuting impressively with a five-length win on Aug. 29 at Delaware Park and then finishing a good second in a first-level allowance at Keeneland on Oct. 7. Always in contention, she sat comfortable in the two-path while contesting the lead before shaking off her rivals at the top of the lane and opening up a three-length advantage. Throttled down in the end, she justified her 3-5 odds.

After three races at six furlongs for his promising filly, Larry Jones confirmed that he may stretch out the maternal granddaughter of Include. Jones mentioned immediately after the race that if Midnight On Oconee comes out well, she may take the same path eventual Kentucky Oaks winner Lovely Maria did when she went from a local six-furlong allowance to the $100,000 Trapeze Stakes at Remington Park on Dec. 13 at a two-turn mile.

An athletic type with an efficient stride, Midnight On Oconee is the second foal from the winning mare Just Fabulous, a half-sister to two stakes winners. She hails from the families of Grade I winners and performers Dance Teacher, Gold Mover and Holiday Soiree.



In a highly competitive renewal of the $60,000 Thanksgiving Stakes that includes multiple graded stakes performers and a 122-pound highweight with three graded wins to his credit, it may be easy to overlook a few key players. One of those appears to be Bond Stables, Naber Racing, Iron Horse Racing et al.’s Speightsong. A winner of three of 11, the son of Speightstown was purchased this fall by Grant Forster and will make his debut for said trainer when he breaks from the outside post eight under Leandro Goncalves on Thursday.

“Sam-Son (Farm) was selling some horses before they went to Florida for the winter and we found he was for sale,” Forster explained. “He was very appealing to us, so we vetted him and bought him. As a 2-year-old, he won nicely at the Fair Grounds and he is typical of a horse in their care. He’s had time when he needed it for any small injuries and he has been well-cared for. We’re really happy with him.”

While owned by his breeder, the 4-year-old half-brother to Grade I-winning Canadian Horse of the Year Up With the Birds broke his maiden over the Fair Grounds surface with a gate-to-wire victory in December of 2013. Three races later, the dark bay charge wired the field in the $150,000 Queenston Stakes over seven Polytrack furlongs at Woodbine. Despite that victory and a subsequent stakes-placing over the all-weather, Forster believes Speightsong may be better on the dirt.

“We bought him with this race in mind and running him on the dirt again,” Forster said. “With the way the stakes schedule is here, there’s this race and the ($60,000 Duncan F.) Kenner (Stakes on Feb. 20) for dirt sprinters.

“We were pleased to draw the outside,” Forster continued. “It’s a great place to be in sprint races and there’s some pace in there. (Favorite and highweight) Clearly Now may have to be used early from the rail and Amoss’ horse (Control Stake) likes to be up there. Hopefully he can settle and run them down in the end.”



Kevin Kuta’s stakes-winning and multiple graded stakes-placed Irish You Well worked four furlongs in 51 flat for trainer Wayne Catalano on Sunday morning. The son of Broken Vow finished third last out in a salty allowance at Keeneland on Oct. 22.

Team Block and Moabo Stabes’ Bold Rally, above, whose ascension through the turf claiming and allowance ranks came to a head last out with his first stakes victory – the $50,000 Cicero Handicap at Hawthorne Race Course on Oct. 24 – worked four furlongs in 53.40 for trainer Richie Scherer.

Two-time stakes-winning Louisiana-bred sophomore filly Pacific Pink worked five furlongs in a useful 1:02 flat – third best of 42 moves at the distance – for trainer Eddie Johnston and owner Keith Plaisance.

Graded stakes-placed half-brother to three graded stakes winners Afortable, who finished fourth by three-quarters of a length in a blanket finish last out in the $50,000 Cicero Handicap at Hawthorne Race Course on Oct. 24, worked three furlongs in 37.60 for new owner-trainer Louie Roussel, III, who recently privately purchased the gray son of Fort Prado from Team Block.

Holmark Stables IV’s multiple stakes-placed Bourbon Cowboy, second in last December’s $50,000 Sugar Bowl Stakes, returned to the work tab for the first time since finishing off the board in an Arlington conditioned turf allowance, working three panels in 37.80 for trainer Richie Scherer.

Veteran multiple stakes winner Heavy On Themister, twice stakes-placed in 2015 for trainer Ron Faucheux and owner What Else Racing, worked a half-mile in 52.40.

Jerry Namy’s Snappy Girl, a stakes winner this summer at Evangeline Downs, put the final touches on her preparation for next Saturday’s $50,000 Battle of New Orleans Stakes with a leisurely half-mile drill in 54.40 for trainer Karl Broberg.


-Michael Adolphson
Media Specialist, Senior Writer