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FG's Traditional Black Gold Stakes Showcased Saturday
NEW ORLEANS, La. (January 29, 2009) - Tradition take center stage Saturday at Fair Grounds with the 52nd running of the $60,000 Black Gold Stakes for 3-year-olds at about 5 1/2 furlongs over the Stall-Wilson turf course.
The Black Gold is named in honor of the first of two Louisiana Derby winners that went on to victory in the Kentucky Derby. Black Gold accomplished the double in 1924, 72 years before Grindstone equaled the feat in 1996.
In an annual ceremony celebrated at the nation's third-oldest race course, the winning jockey of the Black Gold Stakes, accompanied in recent years by descendants of Black Gold's owner-breeder Rosa Hoots, takes a post-race sojourn to the infield to place a wreath at Black Gold's grave marker.
Although Gold Mark Stable's Sangre Frio has been installed as the slight 5-2 morning line choice in Saturday's Black Gold, that Dallas Stewart trainee is expected to be scratched, leaving current 3-1 second choice Big Push to probably inherit the favorite's mantle.
Big Push, usually a front-runner, was unplaced in Fair Grounds' eight-furlong Grade III Lecomte Stakes at last asking Jan. 10 but was a game runner-up, beaten only a head for the win, in the $60,000 Sugar Bowl Stakes here at six furlongs Dec. 20.
Trained by Richie Scherer, Big Push was fourth in Calder's restricted Jack Price Juvenile Nov. 8 and will be ridden by Jesse Campbell Saturday.
Capable of providing strong competition for Big Push is Turfiste, who led in all but the last strides of a one-mile optional claiming grass race at Fair Grounds Dec. 31. The Walts David Stable's homebred, conditioned by Bob Holthus, gets the services of 2007-08 Fair Grounds leading rider Jamie Theriot Saturday and is 7-2 in the morning line.
From the rail out, with respective jockeys, the Black Gold field consists of Big Push, Campbell; Citizen, James Graham; Extreme Warrior, Jesus Castanon; Sangre Frio, Patrick Valenzuela; Midland Man, John Jacinto; Proteus, Kerwin Clark; Unbridle's Dream, Shaun Bridgmohan; and Turfiste, Theriot.
Fair Grounds features an 11-race program this Saturday with first post at 12:30 p.m. CST.
Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, the nation's third-oldest Thoroughbred racing facility, has been in operation since 1872. Located in New Orleans, Fair Grounds is owned by Churchill Downs Incorporated (NASDAQ Global Select Market: CHDN); it also operates a slot-machine gaming facility and nine off-track betting parlors throughout southeast Louisiana. Fair Grounds' 137th Thoroughbred season will run from Nov. 14, 2008, through March 29, 2009, and its inaugural Quarter Horse meet was conducted from Aug. 20-24, 2008. Information about Fair Grounds can be found on the Internet at www.fairgroundsracecourse.com.