Home of the Louisiana Derby

Barn Notes: Sunday, December 11

·        Saint’s Fan Pointing to Lecomte

·        Mena Pulls Clear in Competitive Jockey Race

·        Catalano Fillies Highlight Work Tab


Amid all the buzz of Louisiana-bred greats Sunbean and String King running — and ultimately falling short — in their respective Louisiana Champions Day races, the real story by day’s end was arguably that of Dallas Stewart’s Saint’s Fan, who was an impressive victor in the $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Juvenile. 

Winning for the second time in as many starts, the son of Tale of Ekati followed up his sharp debut victory against open company on Nov. 4 at Churchill Downs with a closing, resolute score under Brian Hernandez, Jr. The chestnut with the unique split blaze was bred by his owner-trainer and is out of Boy Crazy, a Sky Mesa mare.

According to Stewart, the undefeated freshman came out of his effort in top shape and will move forward on a familiar trail for the three-time classic-placed trainer. 

“He looked great today,” Stewart said. “He’s just a natural athlete. He knows how to finish these races off. He showed a good sign yesterday and he had one horse beat on the backside and then came running. Knock on wood, hopefully he stays healthy. He has the best appetite of any young horse I’ve ever had.

“He had a sister named Nola Girl who made about $50,000 and he had another sister who didn’t get to the races, so he’s the 3rd foal,” Stewart continued. “I also have a yearling half by Custom for Carlos and a foal who’s a full-brother by Tale of Ekati. I’ve got one mare and she puts a great body on them and knocks it out of the park.”

Last year, Stewart was in a similar position with G M B Racing’s Tom’s Ready, who looked like a Kentucky Derby trail horse to watch on the strength of a stakes placing and a sharp local effort. Unlike that son of More than Ready, Saint’s Fan started later and has already earned a stakes win. 

“He’s won every (in company) workout all year long,” Stewart concluded. “He’s just been the best and I can’t say enough about him as a 2-year-old. He’s scary-good. We’ll point for the (Grade III $200,00) Lecomte (Stakes).”

Saint’s Fan will attempt to do one better than Tom’s Ready, who was the runner-up in the Lecomte in January to kick off a 3-year-old year that saw him finish unplaced in the Grade I Kentucky Derby, become a multiple graded stakes winner and run a credible race in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile. 


Jockey Miguel Mena has pulled to his first clear advantage in the rider standings at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, but the past two title holders are hot in pursuit. Through Saturday, Dec. 10, Mena has 13 victories from 58 starts, striking at a healthy 22%. He also is in the money lead, being the first rider to break $400,000 threshold in purses. The multiple graded stakes-winning jockey won a trio of races on Friday’s card and one race on Saturday’s card as he closes in on 1,700 career victories. 

Close behind in victories is 2014-15 champion jockey James Graham with 10 victories. Champion of 2015-16, Florent Geroux, is the current heatseaker in the colony, having ridden only 23 horses, but garnering seven victories (eighth in standings) and striking at 30% for $303,280 in earnings (fourth). The three-time Breeders’ Cup-winning rider has 10 Grade I victories in 2016 — tied for tops in the nation with Mike Smith — and won three Louisiana Champions Day races on Saturday, while finishing second in three others from seven mounts. 


Trainer Wayne Catalano’s two star fillies highlighted Sunday’s work tab at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots. Gary and Mary West’s multiple graded stakes-winning 3-year-old Family Tree had an easy half-mile breeze in 52.60. The daughter of Smart Strike has won the Grade III Iowa Oaks, Grade II Indiana Oaks and Zia Park Oaks, in addition to finishing third to Songbird in the Grade I Alabama Stakes. 

Coffeepot Stables’ homebred Kentucky Oaks candidate Farrell worked a half-mile in 50.20 for the three-time Breeders’ Cup-winning conditioner. Such was the Grade II Golden Rod Stakes winner’s first work since winning said event in a romp.

Yockey’s Warrior returned to the tab with a half-mile breeze in 50.80 for trainer Al Stall, Jr., who co-owns the dark bay with Stewart Madison and multiple partners. The son of Warrior’s Reward had not posted a breeze since winning the $75,000 Thanksgiving Handicap in a sharp performance late last month. 

Michael Langford’s 6-year-old graded stakes-winning campaigner Carve worked five furlongs in 1:02 flat for trainer Steve Asmussen. 

Gainesway Stables’ Steve Asmussen-trained Danzatrice worked five furlongs in 1:02.20 for her connections. The daughter of Dunkirk won the Parx Oaks earlier last year and is on a steady comeback trail, having raced twice this fall following a 15-month layoff. 

Multiple stakes-winning filly Inconclusive worked five furlongs in 1:03.80 for trainer Richie Scherer. Owned by Carolyn Friedberg and Jeff T. Larson, the graded stakes-placed 3-year-old daughter of Include is pointing to the $75,000 Pago Hop Stakes on New Year’s Eve. 

Promising sophomore turf allowance-winning filly Always Right worked a half-mile in 48.60 for trainer Al Stall, Jr., and owner-breeder Dixiana Farms.