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Barn Notes: Sunday, January 8
· Guest Suite May Add to Developing Lecomte Field
· Jenda’s Agenda Eye-Opening on Debut
· December Seven Stakes-Bound
GUEST SUITE MAY ADD TO DEVELOPING LECOMTE FIELD
William S. Farish and Mrs. William S. Kilroy’s stakes-placed Guest Suite could add to what is already appearing to be an intriguing edition of the Grade III $200,000 Lecomte Stakes on Saturday, Jan. 21. Trained by Neil Howard, the 3-year-old gelded son of Quality Road worked an impressive six furlongs on Jan. 5 in 1:12.80 over the deep local Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots surface, a work that followed a smart five-furlong move in 1:00 flat on Dec. 28.
“He’s coming along very well,” Howard said. “Mr. Farish, Mrs. Kilroy, (jockey) Robby (Albarado) and I have all been really pleased with him so far. I know Robby, especially, was very happy with his last race. But, just like anything, it’s always good to take the wait and see approach and I’m happy that he’s doing well.”
Guest Suite has started four times. Third on debut at Ellis Park going 5½ furlongs, the Kentucky-bred won at second asking, despite a seven-week layoff and upping trip to 1 1/16 miles. Closing from eight lengths astern in Keeneland maiden company, Guest Suite closed well to win by 2¼ lengths.
Stepped up to stakes company and backed up to a one-turn mile next out, the bay charge closed from sixth of nine to finish a respectable third behind subsequent graded stakes winner McCraken in the $80,000 Street Sense on Oct. 30. Twenty-six days later over the same trip, he won a first-level allowance like a good thing, racing more handily early before dominating his 10 opponents by 6¼ lengths at the wire under Albarado.
“I really like him,” Albarado added. “I’m excited to ride him in the Lecomte. Howard has been very good to me throughout my career and I think this horse has a lot of talent.”
Guest Suite is the first foal out of the winning Ghostzapper mare Guest House, a daughter of Grade III winner Welcome Surprise and granddaughter of iconic 1992 Broodmare of the Year Weekend Surprise, the dam of both Horse of the Year A. P. Indy and classic winner Summer Squall. The latter was, of course, trained by Howard.
The Lecomte is already on the radar of sharp local allowance winners Running Mate and Shareholder Value, as well as stakes winner Cool Arrow, restricted stakes winner Saint’s Fan and sharp maiden winners Girvin, Phat Man, Takeoff and Marco Mischief.
JENDA’S AGENDA EYE-OPENING ON DEBUT
Few performances so far this 2016-17 Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots meet have been more dominating than that of Jenda’s Agenda on Saturday. Owned, trained and bred by Larry Jones, along with wife Cindy, the newly turned 3-year-old daughter of Proud Citizen and Jones-trained and -owned multiple graded stakes winner Just Jenda wired a six-furlong heat by 6¼ lengths under a hand ride from Gabriel Saez. The time was even more impressive on a frigid winter afternoon – 1:10.75, while closing her final quarter in 24.47 under her own will.
“Her mother was the best horse we ever had (as owners),” Jones said. “It’s great to get one to the races like her. It’s a shame it took a little while for her to do so. She had to grow through some issues and mature, but it’s always nice to win first-time out. She’s been working very well.”
While a next start has yet to be decided, it is certain that the three-time Grade I Kentucky Oaks-winning conditioner has a fourth on his mind. On Sunday morning, Jones reported that the bay filly came out of her effort well.
DECEMBER SEVEN STAKES-BOUND
Samantha Siegel’s Jay Em Ess Stable may have a possible star on their hands in December Seven. Trained by longtime Siegel associate Paul McGee, the newly turned 4-year-old son of Street Sense was absolutely dominant when winning a second-level allowance over the Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots surface on Dec. 29 by four hand-ridden lengths. Piloted by James Graham, the bay colt won for the third time in five career starts and may be headed to stakes company next out.
“He is a very nice horse,” McGee said. “He came out of the race great and he will have a maintenance breeze here very soon. We have been talking about whether or not to run him in the ($75,000) Louisiana Stakes (on Jan. 21) or to just wait for the (Grade III $125,000) Mineshaft (Handicap on Feb. 25).”
December Seven is out of the Bernardini mare Date to Remember, a daughter of multiple graded stakes-placed Chief’s Crown mare Fashion Star and half-sister to Grade I winner Eddington and Group I-placed Star Crowned.
Last year, McGee saddled warhorse Majestic Harbor to win the Mineshaft in an exciting stretch-long battle with Eagle.