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Central City Stars on Santa Super Saturday

Preston Stables’ Central City is the 9-5 morning line choice in Saturday’s $60,000 Bonapaw Stakes – just one of five stakes scheduled for this weekend’s Santa Super Saturday Presented by Daily Racing Form at Fair Grounds – but the long-range plans of Central City, runner-up in the Grade II Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint Nov. 6, make him the star of Saturday’s pre-Christmas Crescent City show.

That’s because following the Bonapaw, and perhaps another appearance at the New Orleans oval, Central City is being penciled in for a trip to the Group 2, $1 million Al Quoz Sprint at Meydan Race Course in Dubai. The $60,000 Bonapaw, at about 5 1/2-furlongs over the Stall-Wilson turf course, fit well into the son of City Place’s schedule as his connections look to keep him in top form for a few more months.

“It’s a spot for him, and there are not a lot of spots for him,” said trainer Ronny Werner of the Bonapaw on Thursday morning. “We want to keep him sharp. He’s doing well right now and our biggest goal is going to Dubai so you know we’ve got to stay sharp for that. You’ve only got five tracks doing grass races right now, and everybody tends to congregate in one spot so you get these deeper, tougher fields. But we’re going to keep him sharp.

Werner said the Al Quoz is by invitation only and he is currently in the process of securing a nod from the racing officials in the United Arab Emirates. In the meantime, Central City will be a threat in multiple Fair Grounds stakes this winter.

“He may run twice here,” said Werner, who named the $60,000 Colonel Power Stakes on Feb. 19 as a possibility. “Normally, this turf course sets up a little different. It’s really a come-from-off-of-it type of course, and he’s more front end, so we’ll see.”

Should Central City’s possible trip to Dubai come to fruition, one of his possible opponents could be Carl Moore Management’s Chamberlain Bridge, winner of the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint at Churchill Downs and winner of the last two editions of the Colonel Power.

Another run in the upcoming Colonel Power Feb. 19 at Fair Grounds might also serve as Chamberlain Bridge’s prep for the upcoming Group II grass sprint in Dubai.

SUGAR BOWL STAKES CELEBRATES 60TH ANNIVESARY – Fair Grounds’ $60,000 Sugar Bowl Stakes will celebrate its 60th anniversary this weekend as part of Santa Super Saturday.

The six-furlong sprint is for 2-year-olds, but two weeks later those 2-year-olds become 3-year-olds, and if the sprinters of December can go longer distances as 3-year-olds, this weekend’s Sugar Bowl could preview candidates for the Grade III Lecomte Jan. 22, the Grade II Risen Star Feb. 19 and the Grade II Louisiana Derby on March 26.

One of the best examples so far of that preview was J. R. Straus’s No Le Hace, trained by the late Homer Pardue, who won the Sugar Bowl Stakes of 1971 and captured the 1972 Louisiana Derby 10 weeks later.

Jake Ballis’s Cheyann Belief, trained by Steve Margolis, who saddled Robert and Lawana Low and Winmore LLC’s Cool Bullet to win last year’s Sugar Bowl Stakes, is undefeated in two career starts and has been installed as the tepid 5-2 morning line choice in the Sugar Bowl, with Fair Grounds defending jockey champion Shaun Bridgmohan named in the irons.

FASTATION FAVORED IN LETELLIER MEMORIAL – Heiligbrodt Racing Stable’s Fastation, a winner of her last four starts – all in stakes company – has been installed as the 9-5 morning line favorite for Saturday’s $60,000 Letellier Memorial for 2-year-old fillies, but is expected to face strong competition from 2-1 second choice Unbridled Praise, owned by Richard Davis, who won last summer’s $100,000 Sorority Stakes at Monmouth Park.

Fastation is conditioned by Eclipse Award-winning trainer Steve Asmussen and will be ridden by Shaun Bridgmohan, while Unbridled Praise comes from the barn of trainer Bret Calhoun and has Miguel Mena slated for the saddle.

MAD FLATTER TENACIOUS ’CAP FAVORITE – Bonnie Heath Farm, Holiday Stable, Bright Brook Farm and Hinkle Farms’ Mad Flatter, third beaten less than a length in the Grade III Washington Park Handicap Sept. 4 at Arlington Park and the winner of Calder’s Grade III Spend a Buck Handicap Oct. 16, has been pegged as the 5-2 morning line favorite in Saturday’s $60,000 Tenacious Handicap despite having to shoulder the top impost of 122 pounds in the 1 1/16-mile test.

LADY ALEXANDER THE CHOIC IN ESPLANADECoteau Grove Farms' Lady Alexander, heroine of Monmouth's $150,000 Regret Stakes last August 1, has been installed as the strong 6-5 morning line favorite for Saturday's $60,000 Esplanade Stakes for older fillies and mares at about 5  1/2-furlongs over the Stall Wilson turf course.

STEPHANIE YOUNG SERVICES SET FOR MONDAY – Former jockey Stephanie Young, a New Orleans native who rode at Fair Grounds before being paralyzed in racing accident at Birmingham in 1989, died Wednesday at 42-years-old following a courageous battle with cervical cancer.

Burial will be Monday, Dec. 20 at Lakelawn Cemetery, following a viewing from 9:30-11 a.m. Mass will be at 11:30 a.m. In lieu of flowers, please make donations to Louisiana Horse Rescue Association.