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BARN NOTES: February 4, 2016

  • •   In Equality Arriving Early for Risen Star
  • •   Malibu Sunset Transferred from Catalano to Baffert
  • •   Midnight On Oconee Following Lovely Maria’s Path



Treadway Racing Stable’s In Equality, a graded stakes-placed son of Quality Road, will be one of the first ship-ins to arrive for Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots’ stakes-packed Feb. 20 card. The Leah Gyarmati-trained bay 3-year-old colt looks to be a major threat to the locally based horses, especially after a rallying third in the Grade III $200,000 Jerome Stakes last out on Jan. 2.

“Last time he ran well from behind and (Fair Grounds) might be a place where he might flourish,” Gyarmati said. “He left today (from Belmont Park) and is headed there (by van).

“He’s done everything we’ve asked of him so far,” she continued. “He looked like he would be a good grass horse in the beginning, but we gave him one shot on the dirt before the winter and he ran so well we thought we would press on. I also have another 3-year-old I really like and I’m testing the waters for both of them. One I’ll keep up here (in New York) and with In Equality the timing just works a lot better for him (to go to Fair Grounds). He needs the breather between the races.”

Gyarmati’s assumption that In Equality may be a turf horse was well-founded. By a sire whose offspring seem to do equally as well on dirt and grass, he is out of Canadian champion Inish Glora, who was a terror on the Canadian turf, claiming the Sovereign Award for top turf female in 2003, 2004 and 2006. In Equality is a three-quarter-brother to Roan Inish, who won the Woodbine Oaks and was a game third against the boys in the Queen’s Plate – both in 2010.

“He’ll have a breeze over the surface before the race,” Gyarmati concluded. “I am really looking forward to getting down there myself to New Orleans and trying some of the food.”



According to trainer Wayne Catalano, Malibu Sunset, who was arguably the most impressive maiden winner of the meet thus far when easily taking a six-furlong maiden special weight on Sunday, Jan. 31, has exited his race well and been transferred to trainer Bob Baffert in California. The son of Bernardini was a 10½-length victor while being eased up in a time of 1:10.95, earning a spritely 92 Beyer Speed Figure.

“He came out good and everything and he’s on his way to California,” Catalano said. “Mr. West lives out there and he wants to send some more horses out there and this is a really good horse.

“You don’t want to see those kind leave, but I’ve had it happen before with Animal Kingdom and Stephanie’s Kitten and the Wests have put a lot of money into the game and we’re just happy to be a part of the team. We hope the best for the horse and we’ll look forward to the future with the ones we have.”

All may not be lost for the veteran and long-time high-percentage conditioner. A day prior to Malibu Sunset’s romp, he had another impressive graduate in a flashy gray colt named Major League, who is also owned by the Wests. The long-striding son of Malibu Moon accelerated markedly in an Oaklawn Park maiden special weight to win by 3½ lengths after racing wide throughout. Catalano said he has not ruled out sending the son of Grade II-winning sprint mare Alpha Kitten to Fair Grounds in the future.



Cottonwood Stables’ homebred filly Midnight On Oconee (above) will take another stab at her conqueror Stageplay and at a stakes victory when the daughter of Midnight Lute lines up in the Grade II $200,000 TwinSpires.com Rachel Alexandra Stakes on Feb. 20 at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots. According to trainer Larry Jones, the dark bay filly has been training well since her last effort and is on schedule for the next step.

“She’s really doing okay,” Jones said. “I just nominated her and that’s the plan – to run her in the Rachel Alexandra. It appears that she’s improved and she ran a good race last time. Hopefully we followed the right horse around the other day.”

“She keeps on trying to be like Lovely Maria and if that’s the case, I won’t argue with her,” Jones continued. “They both finished fourth at Remington Park and then came back to run big races at Fair Grounds.”

Retired and recently sold to Japanese interests, Brereton C. Jones’ Larry Jones-trained Kentucky Oaks winner Lovely Maria, just like Midnight On Oconee, ran impressively in a six-furlong allowance at Fair Grounds in late November before shipping to Remington Park for the $100,000 Trapeze Stakes. Both experienced trouble and a sloppy, sealed surface – resulting in fourth place finishes, respectively.

Both Lovely Maria and Midnight On Oconee raced next in mile and 70-yard Fair Grounds events against tough fields – Midnight On Oconee finished second in the Listed $150,000 Silverbulletday Stakes, while Lovely Maria defeated eventual Kentucky Oaks runner-up Shook Up in a salty allowance event that also included subsequently graded stakes-placed I’m a Looker. Lovely Maria, of course, would go on to finish second in the Rachel Alexandra before reeling off a pair of Grade I wins in the Ashland Stakes and Kentucky Oaks and becoming the only filly of her generation to decisively finish first in two Grade I events.

-Michael Adolphson | Media Specialist, Senior Writer