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Drosselmeyer, Discreetly Mine, Tempted to Tapit Headed to Risen Star
Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra is due to run at Fair Grounds in the New Orleans Ladies March 13, but well before that – on Feb. 20 – the Crescent City oval hosts Louisiana Derby Preview Day, featuring six stakes races on the same day, four of which are graded.
Serving as the centerpiece of next weekend’s all-star afternoon is the 37th running of the Grade II Risen Star Stakes, which with its new higher grading and richer purse of $300,000 is sure to attract some of the nation’s top 3-year-olds as the final local prep for the Grade II Louisiana Derby March 27.
Jack Hammer’s Ron the Greek, who won the Grade III Lecomte, first leg of Fair Grounds’ sophomore series on Jan. 23, is expected to continue his quest to sweep the local series by winning the Risen Star, but his expected competition continues to grow. In addition to Maximus Ruler, the runner-up in the Lecomte, owned by Don Benge, Clark Hanna and Mike Bell, the Lecomte’s third-place finisher Letsgetitonmon, owned by Bob Zollars and Mark Wagner, is also expected to come back in the Risen Star.
Other early bird nominations to the Louisiana Derby expected for the Risen Star are Richard, Bertram and Elaine Klein’s Stay Put, impressive when winning a two-turn $50,000 optional claiming race here Jan. 3, and Jay Em Ess Stable’s Worldly, second in that same event. Sam-Son Farms’ Hotep, much the best in a similar race Feb. 1 at the local oval, completes the early bird grouping on track for the Risen Star.
Now nominated to the Risen Star since the closing of early bird Louisiana Derby nominations are WinStar Farm’s Drosselmeyer, conditioned by Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott, who was much the best in a first-level allowance race at Gulfstream Jan. 31; Paul Robsham’s Discreetly Mine, trained by Todd Pletcher and fourth in Gulfstream’s $100,000 Spectacular Bid Stakes Jan. 9 despite a troubled trip; and Gainesway Stable’s Tempted to Tapit, an 11 1/2-length winner when breaking his maiden at Aqueduct in his last start Jan. 18.
Jody Slew Probable for Silverbulletday Stakes Feb. 20
Martin Racing Stable and Dan Morgan’s Jody Slew, heroine of Fair Grounds’ $75,000 Tiffany Lass Stakes on Jan. 23, and Coteau Grove Farms’ Bella Medaglia, who finished second a half-length back in that same first leg of Fair Grounds series for sophomore fillies, are expected to meet again in the Grade III Silverbulletday Stakes, middle leg of that feminine triple which concludes with the Grade II Fair Grounds Oaks March 26.
Four of the last five Fair Grounds Oaks winners, including Rachel Alexandra last year on her way to Horse of the Year honors, have gone on to win the Kentucky Oaks later in the spring.
Mark Stanley’s Quiet Temper, who beat Bella Medaglia earlier this season at Fair Grounds, and L. T. B. Inc. and Miles Childers’ Sheer Beauty, winner of Churchill’s $60,000 Caressing Handicap Nov. 28 and third in Fair Grounds’ $60,000 Letellier Memorial Dec. 19, are also probable for the $150,000 Silverbulletday as the final designed local prep for the Fair Grounds Oaks.
Todd Pletcher-trained Devil May Care, owned by Glencrest Farm and winner of Belmont’s Grade I Frizette last all, is considered as a possible starter in the Silverbulletday as is Northpointe Thoroughbreds’ The Rumor’s True, heroine of Fair Grounds’ filly division of the $50,000 Louisiana Futurity Dec. 31.
Golden Field Expected in Mineshaft Handicap
Vinery Stable and Fox Hill Farms’ Friesan Fire, the hero of last year’s Louisiana Derby and also the gold medal winner in this season’s $75,000 Louisiana Handicap Jan. 23, is expected to match strides again with Louisiana Handicap silver medalist General Quarters, owned and trained by Tom McCarthy, in the Grade III Mineshaft Handicap as part of the Louisiana Derby Preview Day program Feb. 20. General Quarters won Keeneland’s Grade I Blue Grass Stakes last spring.
Also expected for the Mineshaft is Virginia Tarra’s Giant Oak, fourth in Churchill’s Grade II Clark Handicap at last asking Nov. 27; WinStar Farm’s Hold Me Back, second in Saratoga’s Grade I Travers last August; and Circle E. Racing et al.’s Timber Reserve, a winner of his last Jan. 18 in $100,000 optional claiming company at Gulfstream Park.
Grass Could Get Greener for Get Rich Quick in Grade III Fair Grounds Handicap Feb. 20
Pin Oak Stable’s Get Rich Quick earned $20,000 second place money in his last start in Fair Grounds’ Grade III Col. E. R. Bradley Handicap over the local Stall-Wilson turf course, but the winner of that race will not return in the Feb Grade III Fair Grounds Handicap Feb. 20, leaving Get Rich Quick with an excellent chance at the upcoming race’s first place share of $60,000.
Considered likely to challenge Get Rich Quick in the Fair Grounds ’Cap is William Don Bennett and Carl Bowling’s Acting Zippy, winner of Sam Houston’s Grade III John B. Connally Turf Cup Jan. 30; as well as Kaygar Stable and Robert Gerczak’s Baltimore Bob, third in that same test while a length-and-a-quarter behind the winner.
Chrysalis Stables’ Silverfoot, winner of Arlington’s Grade III Stars and Stripes Handicap two years ago and sixth in that same test last summer, is also considered a probable starter in the Fair Grounds Handicap, as is Antsu Stable’s Blues Street, a Todd Pletcher trainee who has won his last two starts.