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El Caballo to Await Muniz
James Spence’s El Caballo, winner of the Grade III Col. E. R. Bradley Handicap at Fair Grounds last week on Road to the Derby Kickoff Day, will not be a candidate for the Grade III Fair Grounds Handicap as the next leg of the Crescent City oval’s grass series on Feb. 20.
“No, we’re not going to come back in that next race,” trainer Ralph Nicks said. “We’re going to wait and come back in the (Grade II Mervin) Muniz Memorial at the end of the season.”
The $400,000 Mervin Muniz Memorial Handicap will be one of four Grade II races contested as part of Fair Grounds’ showcased Louisiana Derby Day program March 27.
Prior to the Col. Bradley ’Cap, Nicks had spent the better part of seven months getting El Caballo back to the races after the son of El Corredor was injured last June.
The Spence color bearer finished second by a nose to the Bobby Frankel-trained Proudinsky in last season’s Mervin Muniz when Proudinsky became the first horse ever to win the Muniz Memorial two years in a row.
Another Nicks trainee, the Spence-owned Flying Pegasus, who finished second in last season’s Grade III Risen Star Stakes and sixth in the 2009 Louisiana Derby, worked a half-mile in 48.80 Friday morning and will be pointed for an allowance race for his next start, according to Nicks.
David Garner’s Elusive Jozi, who made the pace before finishing fourth in the Tiffany Lass Stakes Jan. 23 as the first of three races that culminate in the Grade II Fair Grounds Oaks, remains a possibility for the Grade III Silverbulletday Stakes as the next leg of that sophomore series for members of the distaff set, according to Nicks.
Good News for Get Rich Quick
Trainer Malcolm Pierce, who jokingly referred to his horse Get Rich Quick as “Get Rich Slowly” when his 6-year-old gray finished second to El Caballo in the $100,000 Col. E. R. Bradley Handicap, was aware that the Ralph Nicks-trained El Caballo was not likely for the upcoming Grade III Fair Grounds Handicap Feb. 20 on Louisiana Derby Preview Day.
“I had heard that and I will probably now shoot for the Fair Grounds Handicap with my horse (Get Rich Quick) and then take a pass on the Mervin Muniz,” said Pierce. “Get Rich Quick (owned by Pin Oak Stable) is an honest little horse and I thought he ran very well in the Col. Bradley. If I run him back in this next race I can probably give him a little vacation and then shoot for something at Keeneland with him.”
Saints-Flavored ‘Mango’ Stable to Help Haiti Relief Fund
While some of the owners of Last Mango Racing Stable—which includes New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton and quarterback Drew Brees—will be practicing at the University of Miami on Monday afternoon, their 3-year-old gelding Daddy Forty Nine will break from the gate in the third race at Fair Grounds against a field of five others vying for a $40,000 purse in the mile and 40 yard-race.
“If Daddy Forty Nine finishes in the money, we are planning to donate a portion of our winnings to the American Red Cross for the Haiti Relief Fund,” said Greg Bensel, vice president of communications for the New Orleans Saints as well as one of the principals of Last Mango. “If Daddy Forty Nine does not finish in the money, Last Mango Racing Stable will still make a minimum $500 contribution.”
Tom Amoss, nine-time Fair Grounds trainer champion, is the New Orleans native who is the conditioner of Daddy Forty Nine.
“Obviously, this was an idea the owners came up with and the NFL supports it,” said Amoss. “It’s for a great cause and all of us are proud to be participating.”