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BARN NOTES: December 20, 2015

  • ·        Eagle Eyes Stakes Series
  • ·        Noble Thought Works for Lecomte
  • ·        Diliberto Winner Ibaka Possible for Bradley
  • ·        Pinnacle Peak Joins the Fray
  • ·        Work Tab




William S. Farish’s Eagle has exited his easy 1¼-length win in Saturday’s $60,000 Tenacious Stakes in good shape, according to trainer Neil Howard. The son of Candy Ride – a homebred out of the Mineshaft mare Sea Gull – won his first stakes in the mile and 70-yard feature under Brian Hernandez, Jr., who has been aboard in all nine of his starts, including five victories. The compact chestnut with the noticeable blaze will put his three-race winning streak on the line against even tougher company next out.

“He looked good today and cooled out good and everything well,” Howard said. “Knock wood, but he looked great here on the very next morning, but so far so good. He’s a good-feeling colt, anyway, so even when he’s tired he doesn’t let you know it. I guess the best way to say is that we’re going to enjoy this one because it’s only going to get tougher from here.

“We were more than pleased,” he continued. “Brian was just over the moon with the way he ran. (Hernandez) is one of the better up-and-coming riders who has a good opinion of horses and we feel like we should move forward with him now. Certainly I think we’ll look at the obvious races and handicap series down here (at Fair Grounds). You have to take it one step at a time.”

Injured following an unplaced effort as the favorite earlier this year in the Grade III $200,000 Lecomte Stakes, Eagle was given half of 2015 off to recover. The sting of losing a talented Triple Crown hopeful as the trail commenced was not an easy one to handle, but Howard and company are reaping the benefits of patience with the skilled pupil.

“What’s so good about a horse like this is that Mr. Farish has such an understanding about what we do as trainers,” Howard explained. “A colt like this, who needed time to grow up and take care of a minor issue. We knew he had a minor problem and he let us stop right away. He lets you do what you have to do.”

The Tenacious was the first of four stakes for older horses going two turns during the 2015-16 Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots season. The next race is the Listed $75,000 Louisiana Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on Jan. 16, followed by the Grade III $125,000 Mineshaft Handicap on Feb. 20 and the Grade II $400,000 New Orleans Handicap on Mar. 26.



Pin Oak Stud’s Noble Thought returned to the work tab for the first time since his impressive graduation going two turns on Dec. 4 for trainer Mike Stidham. A good-looking son of Harlan’s Holiday, the homebred worked a half-mile in an easy 50.60 and is on track for a possible run in the Grade III $200,000 Lecomte Stakes on Jan. 16 – Road to the Derby Kickoff Day.

“He just had a maintenance move (on Saturday)” Stidham said. “It was just a leg-stretcher and he came out of it well. We are all good.”

Scoring an impressive 88 Equibase Speed Figure in his victory, Noble Thought fought and defeated well-regarded and impeccably bred Larry Jones trainee No Distortion in the process, while under the guidance of Colby Hernandez. He is a son of stakes-winning Maria’s Mon mare No Use Denying, who placed in the Allen LaCombe Memorial and Marie G. Krantz Memorial and Distaff Stakes during the 2009-2010 Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots season.



Doug Wall’s homebred Ibaka exited his victory in Saturday’s $60,000 Buddy Diliberto Stakes in good form, according to trainer Bret Calhoun. The son of Uncle Abbie won for the eighth time in his career, but first in an open stakes following four restricted stakes victories during the course of his career.

According to Calhoun, the dark bay 4-year-old gelding is possible for a return to open stakes company and a graded stakes debut next out in the Grade III $125,000 Col. E. R. Bradley Handicap on Jan. 16.



Lost in the hullabaloo of a two-turn allowance optional claiming event for 2-year-olds that drew the well-regarded duo of Tom’s Ready – owned by the family of New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson – and Rachel Alexandra’s half-sister Dolphus, Mark Breen’s Pinnacle Peak snuck into and snatched away the mile and 70-yard event by a game neck from Tom’s Ready, going gate-to-wire and prevailing after a stretch-long battle.

A gritty chestnut by Yes It’s True out of a the Indian Charlie mare Charlie Girl, the Mike Stidham trainee won the $75,000 Prairie Meadows Juvenile Mile in August by a romping 10 lengths in just his second start. Bumped up in class his next three starts – he failed to win, including a 10th-place finish in the Grade I $500,000 Breeders’ Futurity in October. Next out could be a return to graded action, as the homebred is under consideration for the Grade III $200,000 Lecomte Stakes on Jan. 16 over the same distance.

“We’re nominated and we’ll look at the race with him,” Stidham said. “I think he’s one who will get the distance. It’s just a matter of keeping his head in front. When he does that he’s very courageous out there. To look at him, he doesn’t look like a sprint-type horse. He’s a two-turn horse. We’ll just keep doing what we’re doing and hopefully he can pick it up as he steps up.”

If Pinnacle Peak does run in the Lecomte, he will likely be running against Stidham-trained stablemate Noble Thought, who impressively took a mile and 70-yard maiden earlier this month.



Frank Fletcher’s stakes-winning Rocket Time continues to work forwardly toward his first start since a third in graded stakes company in April, working a bullet of four moves at six furlongs in 1:13.40 for trainer Al Stall, Jr.

A juvenile colt to watch is Mark Stanley’s unraced Kocheck, who sizzled a half-mile bullet in 47.60 over a track that was not posting quick times. Trained by Andrew McKeever, the homebred son of Unbridled’s Song is entered to debut on Sunday, December 27, in a 5½-furlong maiden special weight on the grass.

Graded stakes-placed Firespike, who is preparing for next week’s Listed $75,000 Woodchopper Stakes, worked five furlongs in 1:03 flat for trainer Mike Maker and owners Skychai Racing, Sand Dollar Stable and Warner Thoroughbreds.

Impressive allowance winner Etruscan, a homebred sophomore son of Bernardini and Kentucky Oaks winner Proud Spell, worked five furlongs in 1:03.40 for trainer Larry Jones and owner Brereton C. Jones.

Richard and Bertram Klein’s well-bred juvenile filly debut winner Cash Back (above) returned to the work tab for the first time since her Dec. 3 win, working three furlongs in an easy 37.40 for trainer Brad Cox. The filly’s half-sister Cash Control took Saturday’s $50,000 Tiffany Lass Stakes, while another half-sister Good Deed set the track record for 5½ furlongs on the turf last season. All three are out of stakes-winning Mt. Livermore mare Hidden Assets.


Michael Adolphson | Media Specialist, Senior Writer