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Delayed Matchup of Top 2-Year-Olds Renewed Thursday


Headlines for Monday, December 15, 2008

  • Delayed Matchup of Top 2-Year-Olds Renewed Thursday
  • Saturday's Sugar Bowl Stakes One More Sweet Test for Juveniles
  • Heitzmann, Campbell Enjoy Successful Weekend
  • Thursday's Fair Grounds Pick 6 Carryover - $19,176


Delayed Matchup of Top 2-Year-Olds Renewed Thursday

NEW ORLEANS, La. - A much-anticipated match up of highly regarded juveniles that was lost to a rare snow cancellation last week will be renewed Thursday at Fair Grounds

Vinery Stables' Friesan Fire, third in Belmont's Grade II Futurity and fourth in Aqueduct's Grade III Nashua in the fall, has been made the slight 8-5 morning line choice in Thursday's sixth race, a $44,000 one-mile allowance event that has attracted a field of six.

Clarence Scharbauer Jr.'s Indygo Mountain, who broke his maiden by 6 1/4 lengths when dominating rivals in a one-mile event at Churchill Downs Nov. 19, is the 9-5 early second choice Thursday.

Friesan Fire's trainer Larry Jones, who was presented with this year's "Big Sport of Turfdom" award in Tucson, Ariz., last week, made a quick return trip to New Orleans well in advance of Thursday's event. The affable Kentuckian, who is also the conditioner of recent Grade II Remsen winner Old Fashioned, saddled Eight Belles to finish second in last spring's Kentucky Derby and Proud Spell to win last spring's Kentucky Oaks after taking last winter's Grade II Fair Grounds Oaks.

Jockey Terry Thompson, 27, an Iowa native who is hanging his tack at Fair Grounds for the first time this winter, has been named to handle the reins on Friesan Fire, who worked a bullet half-mile in :47.00 breezing at Fair Grounds Dec. 7.

Indygo Mountain is trained by Bret Calhoun, the only horseman to have saddled four winners on a single program at Fair Grounds this season.  The Texas native sent this son of A. P. Indy four furlongs in :49.40 over the local surface Dec. 3.  Jamie Theriot, Fair Grounds' leading rider a season ago, is slated for the saddle on Indygo Mountain, who was a $600,000 purchase at the Keeneland September sale in 2007.

Calhoun also trains Silver City, a $700,000 purchase at that same sale for Scharbauer - a fellow Texan who won the 1987 Kentucky Derby and Preakness with Alysheba.

Completing Thursday's field (with jockeys) is Escalon, Pat Valenzuela; Code of Honor, Eddie Martin Jr.; Uno Mas, Shaun Bridgmohan, and Southern Anthem, James Graham.


Saturday's Sugar Bowl Stakes One More Sweet Test for Juveniles

Saturday's 58th running of the $60,000 Sugar Bowl Stakes at six furlongs has also attracted a group of potential prospects for the 96th running of the $600,000 Grade II Louisiana Derby March 14.

One of them is Brereton Jones' It Happened Again, who breezed a bullet five furlongs Monday morning in 1:00.80 at Fair Grounds after breaking his maiden by three and a half lengths at Philadelphia Park Oct. 14.  Like Old Fashioned and Freisan Fire, It Happened Again is trained by Larry Jones, who advises that the Brereton Jones color bearer has "mile and a quarter written all over him."

Slated to hook up with It Happened Again in the Sugar Bowl is B. Wayne Hughes' Map of the World, who was originally slated to compete in the snow-cancelled 2-year-old contest of last week.

Map of the World broke his maiden at first asking at Keeneland Oct. 9 and then finished third in his second outing at Churchill Nov. 1 after veering in at the start and then being bumped during the running.

A colt by Hennessy out of a Kris S. mare, Map of the World is trained by Al Stall Jr., twice Fair Grounds leading trainer and a horseman who was a ubiquitous presence on the local grounds over the weekend.

On Saturday, Stall saddled Brittlyn Stable's Star Guitar to win the $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Sprint, but on Sunday morning he was just a low-key family man, attending Fair Grounds' Christmas-themed Family Day program along with wife Nicole, their 3-year-old son Al III and daughter Greta, now six months old.

Hughes and Stall have finished second in the Louisiana Derby the last two years - in March with eventual Grade II Super Derby winner My Pal Charlie and in 2007 with Ketchikan.

It Happened Again drew post No. 5 and Map of the World will break from post 10 in the field of a dozen juveniles.

The Sugar Bowl will serve as the centerpiece event of Saturday's five-stakes Santa Super Saturday program at Fair Grounds.

 The other stakes include the 22nd running of the Woodchopper Stakes for 3-year-olds over the Stall-Wilson turf course, led by Grade II Jim Dandy winner and Super Derby runner-up Macho Again; the third running of the Bonapaw for older turf sprinters, which has attracted Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint third-place finisher Storm Treasure; the 50th running of the Letellier Memorial Stakes for 2-year-old fillies at six furlongs, and the 16th running of the Esplanade Stakes for older fillies and mares at 5 1/2 furlongs.

Macho Again has attracted the services of three-time Kentucky Derby winner Kent Desormeaux, while Julien Leparoux, who rode the second half of last season at Fair Grounds and had a record-setting Churchill Downs Fall Meet, will ride in three of the five stakes.

 Saturday's quintet of $60,000 stakes, carded as Races 5-9, will offer a 50-cent All Stakes Pick 5.

 One year ago, Fair Grounds pre-Christmas multi-stakes program was a four-stakes program billed as Santa Sprint Saturday before the addition of the about one-mile Woodchopper this season.

Interestingly, the jockey-trainer tandem of Shaun Bridgmohan and Fair Grounds leading conditioner Steve Asmussen swept all four stakes on Santa Sprint Saturday (and a total of six races on the program), as well as well as combining their talents to take last season's Woodchopper, which was contested two days later.


Heitzmann, Campbell Enjoy Successful Weekends

While trainer Eric Heitzmann saddled Valene Farms' Autobeacat to win Saturday's $150,000 Louisiana Champions Day Classic locally with Donnie Meche aboard, Fair Grounds-based jockey Jesse Campbell made a brief trip out of town to Chicago to win Hawthorne's featured $100,000 Jim Edgar Futurity aboard Richard Otto Stables' Summer's Empire for trainer Tony Mitchell.

David Heitzmann, Eric's brother, is teamed with Campbell as his agent this winter after serving as Fair Grounds assistant racing secretary last season, and had Campbell lined up with six horses to gallop Sunday morning after the jockey's round-trip return flight from Chicago got in at 2 a.m. Sunday.

Then, in Sunday's first race, trainer Eric Heitzmann sent out Rocket Reece to win the event with the air-weary Campbell in the irons.


Thursday's Fair Grounds Pick 6 Carryover - $19,167

 A season-high Pick 6 carryover of $19,167 will be available Thursday at Fair Grounds. Despite increased interest over the weekend, no one selected all six winners.

 Thursday's Pick 6 will begin on the sixth race of the 11-race program. First post is 12:30 p.m. CST, with the sixth race scheduled for 2:50 p.m.

Thursday kicks off a stretch of five consecutive 11-race programs at Fair Grounds, ending with the first Monday live racing program of the season on Dec. 22.