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Fair Grounds Will Be Well-Represented in Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks

Mission Impazible, winner of last month’s Grade II Louisiana Derby, remains on track for a start in the world’s most famous horse race, the Kentucky Derby, on May 1 at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky. Similarly, Quiet Temper, winner of the Grade II Fair Grounds Oaks, is still pointing to the April 30 Kentucky Oaks, the most important race for 3-year-old fillies.

Fair Grounds will be well-represented in those historic events. In addition to the Louisiana Derby and Fair Grounds Oaks winners, several other horses that have raced in New Orleans are expected to run in the two biggest races under the famed twin spires.

Mission Impazible, owned by the Louisiana-based Twin Creeks Racing Stable, is one of several Kentucky Derby probables trained by Todd Pletcher. The “Todd Squad” also includes Fair Grounds’ Grade II Risen Star Stakes winner Discreetly Mine, owned by E. Paul Robsham Stables, who was fourth in the Louisiana Derby.

Discreetly Mine will have his $25,000 starting fee for the Kentucky Derby waived because he started in both of Fair Grounds’ Grade II Kentucky Derby preps and finished among the top three in one of them. The special offer was designed to lure more and better candidates for the Fair Grounds races and helped attract a field of 13 in the Louisiana Derby, the most in the gate since 1993.

The second and third-place horses from the Grade II Louisiana Derby do not currently have enough graded stakes earnings to make the Kentucky Derby, which is limited to 20 starters. The cutoff point as of April 22 is $250,950. Louisiana Derby runner-up A Little Warm (owned by Edward P. Evans) is tied for 26th on the list of those under consideration for the Kentucky Derby with $180,000 in graded earnings. Drosselmeyer (WinStar Farm), third in the Louisiana Derby with a troubled trip, is 32nd on the list and is preparing for the May 15 Preakness Stakes.

Even with Drosselmeyer unlikely to make the Kentucky Derby starting gate, WinStar Farm could still be a major player in the Kentucky Derby with a recent New Orleans runner. Endorsement, winner of the Sunland Derby, finished second in a Fair Grounds maiden special weight around two turns in January for trainer Shannon Ritter, who was stabled here this past season. The Distorted Humor colt is now training at Keeneland and will be ridden in the Kentucky Derby by seven-time Fair Grounds leading jockey Robby Albarado.

In the Kentucky Oaks, as many as seven Grade II Fair Grounds alums would like to start, although three of them probably do not have the requisite dough. Two Fair Grounds stakes winners, Mark Stanley’s Quiet Temper and Martin Racing Stable and Dan Morgan’s Jody Slew, already have the necessary graded stakes earnings. In addition, Starlight Partners’ Ailalea, the beaten morning line favorite in the Fair Grounds Oaks, will likely be the last filly to make the field with her $69,900 in graded earnings. Meanwhile, the Fair Grounds Oaks runner-up Champagne d’Oro, owned by Southern Equine Stables, is 15th and can only get in with another defection.

Glencrest Farm’s Devil May Care, the beaten favorite in February’s Grade III Silverbulletday Stakes who went on to win the Grade II Bonnie Miss Stakes at Gulfstream Park, is already assured a spot in the Oaks gate but remains under consideration for the Derby.

The dead-heat third-place finishers from the Fair Grounds Oaks, Seeking the Title and Sheer Beauty, are holding out hope of making the Kentucky Oaks field but they are tied for 20th on the graded earnings list with the $21,000 they each earned in New Orleans.   

Four of the last five winners of the Fair Grounds Oaks (prior to this year's running) have gone on to win the Kentucky Oaks: Ashado (2004), Summerly (2005), Proud Spell (2008) and Rachel Alexandra (2009). The Fair Grounds Oaks was not run in 2006 during a shortened meet relocated to Louisiana Downs in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.