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Can Tempo Five Trump Thursday's Thanksgiving 'Cap Rivals?

Euroears vs. Sok Sok.  Is Thursday’s 84th running of Fair Grounds’ $60,000 Thanksgiving Handicap a two-horse race?

New Orleans native Tom Amoss, Fair Grounds nine-time trainer champion and the conditioner who will saddle Hunter Run Stable’s Tempo Five in Thursday’s Turkey Day feature, was asked that question Sunday morning during training, two days after arriving back home from Louisville in the waning days of Churchill Downs’ fall meeting.

“I think my horse has earned the right to run in the race,” said Amoss of Tempo Five, who won an optional claiming race at Fair Grounds on opening day Nov. 6. “He’s won 10 of 17 starts, and I think that gives him the right to take a shot at bigger races. Euroears is the speed. I’d like to see a little more pace in the race than I can see right now. I hope that (lack of it) doesn’t change the way we have to ride our horse.

“I don’t think it’s an easy race,” said Amoss. “Sok Sok won this race last year, and he’s always dangerous. And Southern Style (second by a neck in Delta Downs’ $60,000 Zydeco in his last start Oct. 14 and two-length winner of Louisiana Downs’ $50,000 Temperance Hill Stakes Sept. 19), he’s a pretty nice horse, too.  

“Don’t forget about Al’s horse,” Amoss said, speaking of the Al Stall Jr.-trained Tend, owned by Adele Dilschneider and Claiborne Farm. If he stays in there and doesn’t go to the Delta Mile (Dec. 4), he could be tough as well.”

Tempo Five was clocked in 1:09.64 during his victory over the local course opening day, a win that thrilled the owners.

“They’re a group of people out of Ohio,” Amoss said. “I found this horse for them for $20,000. It’s a sizable group, and this is their first horse, so they’re starting out one-for-one in terms of nice horses. I told them not to expect that it would always be this easy.”

Reminder: First Post Thanksgiving Day will be 12:40 P.M.
Fair Grounds’ guests planning to celebrate the Thanksgiving Day holiday at the Crescent City oval are reminded that a special first post time of 12:40 p.m. will be in effect that afternoon.

Second Stakes This Week Comes Saturday When 22nd Renewal of Woodchopper Goes to Post
The $60,000 Woodchopper Stakes, restricted to 3-year-olds at about a mile over the Stall-Wilson turf course, is slated for Saturday at Fair Grounds, two days after the Thanksgiving Handicap, and has attracted 15 nominations.

Don Eberts’ Atlantic Slick, trained by high percentage trainer Morris Nicks, is one of those nominees. “He’s doing well since he got back down here,” said Nicks. “He won two in a row over the grass here last year, and now he’s doing well again. We may try it (Saturday’s Woodchopper).”

King of Speed Earns His Doughnuts in 100th Career Start
Speaking of senior citizens, Carl Moore Management’s 10-year-old doughnut-loving gelding King of Speed drew in off the also-eligible list in Sunday’s eighth race to make the 100th start of his career – and won it!

The Bret Calhoun trainee, ridden Sunday by Ramsey Zimmerman, now has 23 victories, 15 seconds and 14 thirds from those 100 career starts.

“I wish I had a barn full of horses just like him,” said Calhoun, who revealed that the horse’s daily regimen includes inhaling, of all things, doughnuts. “He’s a fun horse. He eats between six and twelve doughnuts every morning.”

Calhoun said he doesn’t worry much about the 10-year-old getting claimed, as most horsemen would be weary of such an old horse.

“I lost him once here last year and I got him back,” Calhoun said. “He’s more of a barn pet. Hopefully we’ll have him until the end and then retire him. The owner has a nice farm waiting for him when he’s ready. He’s just a cool horse to run that many times and win that many times.”

So how much longer can the chestnut son of Senor Speedy keep racing?

“I just don’t know,” Calhoun said. “He takes good care of himself. When it’s time to quit we’ll definitely quit. We’ll never press the envelope with him. Right now he’s happy and healthy and likes what he’s doing so we’ll keep going with him.”

Fair Grounds Jockey Martin Brown Celebrated 65th Birthday Friday
Fair Grounds jockey Martin Brown, who won two races here last season, turned 65 years old Friday, and was congratulated on that milestone during Fair Grounds mass Sunday morning.

“I’m just thankful that God has let me continue to do what I love to do,” said Brown, who may be the oldest active rider in the country unless R. A. “Cowboy” Jones makes another comeback this year. “I just take things one day at a time,” said Brown, who rode two mounts Sunday afternoon.

Additional reporting by Jim Mulvihill.