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Family Ties Bind Klein Clan at Fair Grounds

Headlines for Friday, February 20, 2009

  • Family Ties Bind Klein Clan at Fair Grounds
  • Trainer Sturges Ducoing in Midst of Winning Season
  • Hunches Past and Future?
  • ‘Costa' Rising Again


Family Ties Bind Klein Clan at Fair Grounds

NEW ORLEANS, La. - The lime and black racing silks of prominent Thoroughbred owners Richard, Bertram and Elaine Klein have been posed astride stakes winners for decades, but that same ownership group that consists of a husband, wife and son added new meaning to the phrase "family ties" here this week.

That's because equine half-brothers racing in their colors won the ninth race at Fair Grounds on successive race days.

Winning Monday's feature was the Klein's aptly-named Early Return, a bay 4-year-old gelding by Carson City out of Swept Away.  Following two dark days, the Klein's sophomore colt Cash Refund broke his maiden at first asking on Thursday.  Cash Refund is a son of Petionville, but also out of Swept Away.

That mare, a 12-year-old daughter of Mystery Storm, included Gulfstream's 2001 Hurricane Bertie Stakes among her own added money victories. Coincidentally, Mystery Storm was out of Hurricane Bertie, herself a stakes-winning mare owned by the Kleins.

Trainer Steve Margolis, a newcomer to Fair Grounds this season but a conditioner who saddled Cajun Beat to win the 2003 Breeders' Cup Sprint at Santa Anita, trains for the Kleins.

"Cash Refund has been a little bit of project but right now I think it was all worth it," Margolis said Thursday as he watched the replay of his colt's successful debut.  "Look what happens when this other horse comes up alongside him.  He could have packed it in right there but he regrouped and went on.  I knew he had some talent when he worked in :47 and change the other day (a bullet :47.60 half-mile Feb. 6), but today he showed me he has a little heart, too."

Margolis also saddled the Klein's Northern Prince to be clearly second best behind Louisiana Derby early bird nominee Captain Cherokee last Saturday.  Was Northern Prince under consideration for the Grade II $600,000 Louisiana Derby on March 14?

"I don't think so," said Margolis.  "I'm not sure we're quite ready to throw him to the wolves just yet.  He's got a chance to be a nice horse so probably what we'll do is just let him run through his conditions first."


Trainer Sturges Ducoing in Midst of Winning Season

Longtime Thoroughbred trainer Sturges Ducoing, a New Orleans native who has gradually returned to his racing roots through a combination of circumstances in recent years, is currently enjoying what could be described as a career year on the local circuit.

 Through Thursday's races, Ducoing had saddled 12 winners from 56 starters to enjoy a successful win ratio of 21 percent and an in-the-money ratio of 50 percent.

 "Yes, this has been a very good year," said Ducoing Thursday, "but having good horses and good help is the key to any success we have enjoyed.  If I'm having a good year, you have to give all the credit to people like my assistant Janet Ferguson, my man Cleto and all the barn help.  Also, there's a lot of luck involved."

 An early premonition of Ducoing's successful season came on opening day Nov. 14 when he saddled Valene Farms' Sammie Sam to win the $60,000 Si Cima Stakes.

However, the veteran horseman will enjoy additional honors Feb. 28 when he and his teammates from the 1961 Loyola University baseball team will be inducted into Loyola's athletic hall of fame.

 Ducoing, who pitched and played shortstop on that team, remembers his entire baseball career fondly, including his years on that Loyola team, which was coached by the late "Rags" Scheuermann, himself a member of many halls of honor, including Fair Grounds' Press Box Hall of Fame.

 "I think we only lost one game over a two-year period," said Ducoing.  "We would have won the College World Series, too, but they had a rule that freshmen couldn't play on a team in the College World Series.  Most of our team was freshmen, and most everyone on that team went on to play pro baseball."

 "I was signed by the Red Sox," Ducoing said, "but I tore a tendon in my pitching arm during my first season.  I tried to come back the next year but it hurt too much.  That ended that.  I loved baseball even more than I love training horses, but no one hired me as a coach so I went back to the horses."

Ironically, it could be said that baseball led to Ducoing's training career.

"We were very poor," Ducoing said, "so while I was still in school, I had to have a job, so I started walking hots so I could play baseball in the afternoon.

"Then, while I was in baseball, I met a lot of people like Chuck Tanner, Bob Skinner, Bobby Murcer, Lou Piniella and Don Zimmer who liked horses," Ducoing added, "and I ended up training horses for some of them."

The Tanner-owned and Ducoing-trained Majesty's Imp finished second to Dispersal in the 1989 Louisiana Derby and then got hurt during preparation for that spring's Kentucky Derby won by Sunday Silence.

 "I was gradually cutting back on training horses when I got in the car wash business, but the insurance for that was getting so high that now I'm getting back into training full time," said Ducoing, who presently has 16 horses under his care.

 "I've always loved training horses anyway," said Ducoing, "so right now I'm thinking that I'll probably be doing it the rest of my life."


Hunches Past and Future?

Decades ago, a horse named Santa Claus became the stuff of legends when he won the third race at Fair Grounds on Christmas Eve.

Last week, a horse wearing white silks with red hearts all over them won Fair Grounds' sixth race on Valentine's Day.

What does the future hold for Fair Grounds hunches?  Perhaps another hunch bet next week?

Monday's ninth race has produced a hunch play for fans of Carnival in the form of Perform Stable's Proteus, who comes in off a fourth-place finish in the Black Gold Stakes.

Mardi Gras goers know that Proteus is also the name of one of the oldest Carnival krewes, and it has traditionally rolled through the streets of New Orleans on the day before Mardi Gras.

The Krewe of Proteus will roll at 5:15 p.m., or about an hour after Monday's feature.


‘Costa' Rising Again

Charles Castille Jr.'s Costa Rising, absent from competition since winning the Louisiana Champions Day Classic at Fair Grounds in December of 2007, made a successful return to competition in Friday's fifth race, coming from off the pace to tally by one length under jockey Robby Albarado.

Costa Rising, who won for the 15th time in 22 career starts, is trained by Glenn Delahoussaye, who nursed the 6-year-old back to racing health following arthroscopic surgery that went through a ligament.

Costa Rising upped his career earnings to $891,366 with Friday's win. His connections have stated that a goal for Costa Rising is to reach $1 million in earnings, which would make him the third Louisiana-bred to reach that plateau, along with Grade I-winning mare Happy Ticket and 1996 New Orleans Handicap winner Scott's Scoundrel.