Home of the Louisiana Derby

BARN NOTES: November 27, 2015

  • ·        Murrill: A Rising Star in the Jockey Rankings
  • ·        Control Stake to Get a Short Rest
  • ·        D’boldest Dashing into Battle
  • ·        Work Tab



This time last year, then-apprentice jockey Mitchell Murrill was coming off his first meet as a rider at Evangeline Downs and was excited to dive into the deep Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots colony. Fast-forward one year later to the 2015-16 meet and the 21-year-old Alabama native barely resembles the novice he once was. If there was an award for most improved, it may not suffice. After 100 more victories, a highly successful Arlington meet in which he finished a close second and a Keeneland Fall Meet where he scored six victories, Murrill is not only improved – he is arguably one of the best.

“I feel like a whole different rider,” Murrill said. “I make smarter decisions and I ride more aggressively than I did last year. Arlington taught me to stay calm not only when I’m riding, but also when I deal with trainers, owners and other riders. I try to stay as humble as possible. I also rode a bunch of races on the grass and I had a good percentage on it, too, so that was a good experience.”

Murrill’s patience and skill on the grass have been on immediate display at the current meet. In his first 11 rides on the Stall-Wilson turf course through Thursday’s card, he has hit the board with nine of those, including three victories. One of those victories, an upset last-jump allowance win Saturday with Mike Stidham-trainedZubi Zubi Zu over odds-on multiple stakes winner Eden Prairie, put an exclamation point on his prowess.

“Last year was only my second meet ever as a jockey and I feel like I’ve learned a lot,” Murrill explained. “I am pretty excited this year. We started off well with a good first week – winning five races. Mike Stidham and Steve Flint have especially been helpful with keeping me on horses and I couldn’t do it without trainers like them.”

Murrill, through Thursday’s card, sports 118 victories on the year from 808 starts for a 14.6%. After becoming a journeyman this summer and consequently losing his weight allowance, he did not lose much steam, finishing the Arlington meet a strong second to Jose Valdivia, Jr., and then shaking things up at Keeneland with a seventh-place finish against the likes of Corey Lanerie, Julien Leparoux, Paco Lopez and Florent Geroux.

“It was really kind of overwhelming going in there at Keeneland with no business and people barely knowing me,” he said. “We managed to get six wins and that was unexpected, but a lot of fun.

“I would be satisfied with a top-three or top-five finish here at Fair Grounds,” he continued. “Patience is key on this track, especially with the stretch being long – and on both courses. You have to save some horse and finish strong. Hopefully we do well from here and I just keep getting better.”

Murrill is represented by another rising star in the game, 31-year-old jockey agent Tim Hanisch. An Iowa State alum, Hanisch has worked in racing offices across the country, including Fair Grounds as recently as the 2014-15 meet.



Maggi Moss’ Control Stake has exited his victory in the $60,000 Thanksgiving Handicap in fine order for trainer Tom Amoss. The sophomore son of Discreetly Mine wired his elders in the six-furlong contest in a swift 1:09.83 under Colby Hernandez in what was his third stakes win of the year and second victory in three Fair Grounds starts.

“He came out fine,” Amoss said. “He is a little exhausted, but he had two races close together and shipped from Kentucky, so he’s earned a small vacation. He probably won’t turn up in the entries until January. We’ll look for something then.”

The victory was Amoss’ second on the day and meet after a frustrating start saw him finish second in four of his first seven races over the entirety of opening week. The 11-time meet champion was happy to get back on the scoreboard in a big way.

“The rational Tom was telling me that you’ve seen this before and you’ll bounce back just fine,” he said. “The irrational Tom was a little frustrated, so I’m glad to get the wins and move forward.”


Antonia Noonan’s D’boldest has quickly risen from the $10,000 claiming level as recent at March of this year to being one of the logical choices in Saturday’s $50,000 Battle of New Orleans Stakes at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots. The Jose Camejo trainee has won her last four races, while ascending the allowance ranks in dirt and turf sprints, and proven victorious in six of her last seven.

“She’s also a tiny filly and a bad eater,” he continued. “We tried to change little things here and there and now she’s happy and she’s eating fine. She was sour before, but now she’s not. We just try to play with her and keep her feeling good. She’s older now and more mature, so that helps, too.”

At morning-line odds of 4-1, the 8-for-19 daughter of D’wildcat is third choice behind the likes of Adrianne G (3-1) and Unbridled Courage (7-2). Still, Camejo is confident.

“I think we have a pretty good chance,” he said. “She is going to be right there, one-two, hopefully. I have a lot of respect for Adrianne G and Bret Calhoun and I think she could be the one to beat. Hopefully we can beat her.”



Three 2-year-olds impressed on Friday morning with bullets at three, four and five furlongs. Homewrecker Racing and Carlos Riverla’s Carlientita, unraced since a third on debut in June at Prairie Meadows, worked a bullet three-furlongs in 36.20 for trainer Mike Stidham.

At four furlongs, Victory Arch impressed with a best-of-40 move in 47.80. The son of freshman sire Archarcharch was a $47,000 Ocala purchase this year for trainer Scott Gelner and was his second bullet from three moves over the Fair Grounds surface. On Nov. 13, the dark bay colt blitzed three panels in 34.80.

Perhaps the most impressive of the trio of 2-year-old bullet baggers on Friday morning was Finley’sluckycharm, from the barn of Bret Calhoun for owner Carl Moore Management. A $77,000 purchase at Keeneland’s September Sale in 2014, the daughter of Twirling Candy out of multiple stakes-placed graded stakes performer Day of Victory (by Victory Gallop) hails from the family of multiple Grade I winner Pure Clan and Grade II winner Greater Good and worked a sharp five furongs Friday morning in 1:00 flat – best of 28.


-Michael Adolphson
Media Specialist, Senior Writer