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Barn Notes: Thursday, March 2


·        Rapid Rhythm May Stay in Training

·        Excitations Takes Next Step in Sunday Allowance

·        Equation Okay, Future Uncertain

·        Work Tab



Robert S. Evans’ Rapid Rhythm has exited her impressive victory in the $75,000 Mardi Gras Stakes in top order, according to trainer Mike Stidham. 

“She came out in good shape,” he said. “I was very impressed with her. I wish I had a barn full of ones just like her.” 

Remaining perfect in five starts at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots in the process, the daughter of Successful Appeal closed in her typical style on Tuesday, going from last-to-first in the final quarter-mile and passing seven fillies and mares in the process. The victory was her third consecutive stakes win and six in nine starts since Stidham took over training the dark bay mare. 

“Mr. Evans has indicated that he may leave her in training, but that’s not for sure yet,” Stidham said. “We’ll likely point to Keeneland if that happens (for the Listed $100,000 Giant’s Causeway Stakes on Apr. 15).”



Fair Grounds Racing Club’s Al Stall, Jr.-trained Excitations will take the next step in his career on Sunday when the swift son of Into Mischief takes on winners in a two-turn allowance going a mile and 70 yards on Fair Grounds’ main track. The good-looking bay colt’s prospects looked a little brighter this past Saturday when Brad Grady’s Girvin annexed the Grade II $400,000 Risen Star Stakes. In mid-December, Girvin and Excitations made their debuts in a six-furlong maiden at the New Orleans oval, battling throughout and finishing a head apart at the wire and 9¼ lengths clear of the closest rival. Together the pair closed the final furlong in 24.60 seconds. 

Since then, Excitations returned to graduate at the same trip and condition on Feb. 2, getting six furlongs in 1:10.44 and winning with ease under Miguel Mena, who returns to ride on Sunday. 

“It’s the next logical step and he’s training well,” Stall said. “We just hope he can handle it. He’s a smart, ratable horse. I feel confident he will run well. We’ll see if someone wants to run away from there and he can sit back, but he broke really sharp last time and you don’t learn a whole lot if you go to the front and they don’t have a chance to pass horses.  If you win two (races), you certainly have to run in one of those races like the Louisiana Derby, but it honestly hasn’t crossed my mind until we get over with this. 

“He’s just a strong horse in the barn, but really easy to train,” Stall continued. “All the Into Mischiefs are tough-minded, strong horses and basically almost all the ones I’ve had can run.” 

Excitations (post four) is the 4-5 morning-line favorite and will be joined in the gate by five others, including restricted stakes winner Pat On the Back (Robby Albarado, post five), from the barn of Kenny McPeek, and Steve Asmussen-trained Resiliency (Florent Geroux, rail), who has kept such hardy company as graded winner Guest Suite and highly regarded It’s Your Nickel. 



Ben McElroy’s Equation is deemed okay after being vanned off following her first career loss in Tuesday’s $75,000 Mardi Gras Stakes. Finishing in atypical lackluster fashion, she was fifth under Brian Hernandez, Jr., at odds of 3-1 — second choice behind victorious favorite Rapid Rhythm. Previously, she was 4-for-4 in her career, including a victory in the $50,000 Big Easy Stakes on Jan. 28. 

“She’s okay and has a small knee issue bothering her,” trainer Brendan Walsh reported. “It’s not anything terrible, but we’ll see how she recovers. We may bring her back to race or we may just breed her. We’re hoping to get her back to the races, but it’s also that time of year when you would want to breed her, especially if you think it’s something that may bother her all year. 

“It looked like she had a couple bad strides and maybe took a bad step,” Walsh continued. “Brian said that he wanted to make sure she was okay. She started not picking up anymore in the stretch, but then galloped out okay. When she turned around, she started to feel it and that’s when Brian got off.”



Stageplay continued her comeback with a second work since returning to the tab. Mike Rutherford’s Silverbulletday Stakes winner of 2016 worked a half-mile in 49.80 for trainer Steve Asmussen. The daughter of Curlin has not raced since finishing off the board in the Grade II Eight Belles Stakes on May 6. 

Clark Brewster’s Neck ’n Neck continues to work well for trainer Steve Asmussen. Purchased at auction last fall, the graded stakes-winning stayer was last seen finishing off the board in the Grade II Brooklyn going a mile and a half on Belmont Stakes Day. 

Maggi Moss’ Grade III winner and multiple restricted stakes winner Big World worked a half-mile in 48.40 on Thursday morning for trainer Tom Amoss. She was last seen outclassing a field of eight in Delta Downs stakes company by four lengths and has won three of her last four races. 

Darrell Brown et al.’s Czar, a promising turf allowance winner earlier this meet for trainer Al Stall, Jr., worked five furlongs in a swift 1:00.80 — good for third-best of 24 moves at the distance on Thursday morning.