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Fair Grounds Hosts Louisiana Champions Day Saturday

Headlines for Monday, December 08, 2008

  • Fair Grounds Hosts Louisiana Champions Day Saturday
  • Thoughts of Derby Get Early Start Thursday
  • 11 Races on Friday, Saturday


Fair Grounds Hosts Louisiana Champions Day Saturday

NEW ORLEANS, La. - Former winners and full fields serve as the headline attractions for the 18th annual Louisiana Champions Day Saturday at Fair Grounds.

Entries were taken Monday for the 11-race program of stakes races restricted to accredited Louisiana-breds offers purses totaling $1.1 million. The day's action includes three Quarter Horse races followed by eight Thoroughbred events.

The richest race of the afternoon is the $150,000 Louisiana Champions Day Classic which is likely to be headed by Star Production, owned by Foxwood Plantation Ltd. and will be ridden by Carlos Gonzalez.  Star Production, who was fourth in last year's Louisiana Champions Day Juvenile and ran in the Grade II Super Derby at Louisiana Downs this fall, is trained by James "Sweet" Hodges and posted two bullet works at Fair Grounds last month.

One of Saturday's most competitive events is likely to be the $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Turf, featuring 2007 winner Willist and 2006 victor Desert Wheat.  The latter won the $60,000 Mr. Sulu Stakes on Nov. 15 here, with Willist finishing fifth.

Also looming as a competitive showdown is the Louisiana Champions Day Sprint, likely to be headed by Star Guitar and Meteor Impact.

Star Guitar captured the 2007 Champions Day Juvenile here but was injured while prepping for the Grade III Lecomte in January. Most recently he won in allowance company here on Nov. 23.

Meteor Impact won the Champions Day Sprint in 2006. With his win in the 2002 Juvenile, Meteor Impact is going for a third win on Champions Day, a feat accomplished by only two other Thoroughbreds - Dixie Poker Ace and Mr. Sulu.

The Sprint also includes a third former winner of the Champions Day Juvenile - Tortuga Straits, who won the event in 2006.

In the Ladies, Si Cima Stakes winner Sammie Sam will match strides with Superior Storm, who won last year's Louisiana Champions Day Lassie.

Leesa Lee, an allowance winner here on Nov. 16, heads the field for the Champions Day Ladies Sprint. Jockey E.J. Perrodin, who captured his 3,000th career win last Friday, will be back aboard Leesa Lee.

Cross-entered in the Ladies Sprint and the Turf is Tortuga Flats, who has won five times this year and captured the 2005 Champions Day Lassie.

Valene Farm's Autobeacat has been assigned the highweight of 122 pounds in the $50,000 Louisiana Champions Day Starter.

Accredited Louisiana-bred 2-year-olds will meet in the Champions Day Juvenile, with Old Hickory Stakes winner Foreign Production leading the way, Juvenile fillies will meet in the Lassie, which attracted a field of 14.

Three Quarter Horse stakes get Saturday's program underway.


Thoughts of Derby Get Early Start Thursday

            The thoughts of Kentucky Derby hopefuls at Fair Grounds usually begins in earnest with "Road to the Derby" Kickoff Day in January, but it's hard not to think about the first Saturday in May when looking at the first-level allowance scheduled for Thursday.

            Clarence Scharbauer Jr.'s highly regarded juvenile Indygo Mountain, who broke his maiden by 6 1/4 lengths at Churchill Downs Nov. 19, has been made the 5-2 morning line choice in Thursday's $44,000 one-mile allowance test that has attracted a field of nine 2-year-olds.  The Bret Calhoun trainee, making his third start, will be ridden by Jamie Theriot, Fair Grounds' leading rider a season ago.

            Right behind Indygo Mountain as the 3-1 second choice in the morning line is Vinery Stable and Fox Hill Farms' Friesan Fire, third in Belmont's Grade II Futurity Sept 13 and fourth in Aqueduct's Grade III Nashua Stakes Nov. 2 despite racing wide.  Jockey Terry Thompson is slated for the saddle on Friesan Fire, who is one-third of a troika of 2-year-olds trained by Larry Jones who is being trained for a Triple Crown campaign next spring.

            Third choice in the morning line for Thursday's feature is B. Wayne Hughes' Map of the World at 9-2.  Trained by Al Stall Jr. and to be ridden by six-time Fair Grounds riding champion Robby Albarado, this son of Hennessey broke his maiden at first asking and finished third in his most recent start at Churchill Nov. 1 despite veering in a the break and being solidly bumped during the running.

            The juvenile allowance is the sixth race on Thursday's card, with an approximate post of 2:54 p.m. CST.


11 Races on Friday, Saturday

In addition to the 11-race card on tap for Louisiana Champions Day on Saturday, Fair Grounds will also offer an 11-race program on Friday.

The Friday program kicks off with the $30,000 Kudzu Stakes at 5 1/2 furlongs, restricted to 2-year-old registered Alabama-breds.

First post remains at 12:30 p.m. CST both days.