Friday Notes: Gomez Lining Up Mounts for Louisiana Derby Day

Jockey Garrett Gomez might be sitting on the cusp of a memorable afternoon at Fair Grounds during the upcoming Louisiana Derby Day March 26, advised Ron Anderson, agent for the 2009 Eclipse Award-winning jockey on Friday morning while speaking over the phone from Southern California.

“We are going to ride Mission Impazible in the (Grade II) New Orleans Handicap for Todd (Pletcher, trainer),” Anderson said speaking of the Twin Creeks Racing color bearer who won last year’s Louisiana Derby, “and we’re going to ride (Five D Thoroughbreds and Wind River Stables’) Kathmanblu for Kenny McPeek in the (Grade II) Fair Grounds Oaks.

“We have a little bit of a situation in the (Grade II) Louisiana Derby at the moment that we’ll know more about on Monday,” said Anderson, “and we also may have a mount on a big horse in the turf race (Grade II Mervin Muniz Memorial), but we’ll know more about that on Monday, too.”

Gomez rode Gaillardia Racing’s Louisiana Derby-bound Wilkinson to victory in the Grade III Lecomte Stakes Jan. 22 in the first leg of Fair Grounds’ sophomore series that concludes with the $1 million Louisiana Derby.

KATHMANBLU, INGLORIOUS HEADED FOR FAIR GROUNDS OAKS REMATCH – Five D Thoroughbreds and Wind River Stable’s Kathmanblu and Donver Stable’s Inglorious, first and second, respectively, in the Grade III Rachel Alexandra Stakes at Fair Grounds during Louisiana Derby Preview Day on Feb. 19, appear destined to face each other again in the Grade II Fair Grounds Oaks on March 26.

Jockey Garrett Gomez has already accepted the mount on Kathmanblu in the Fair Grounds Oaks, and Inglorious’s trainer Josie Carroll updated on the progress of her filly Friday morning during training hours.

“At this point we are going (in the Fair Grounds Oaks),” said Carroll, “and as long as everything stays good we’re headed that way.”

PRADO TO RIDE MACHEN IN LOUISIANA DERBY; ROGUE ROMANCE OUT – Jockey Edgar Prado  has been named to ride Courtlandt Farms’ Machen in the upcoming $1 million Louisiana Derby March 26, trainer Neil Howard confirmed Friday morning during training hours at Fair Grounds.

“We had to make a decision,” Howard said. “At the time we made it, it looked like Jamie (Machen’s regular rider Theriot) was going to Dubai to ride (Carl Moore’s) Chamberlain Bridge there. Now, I guess, that’s not going to happen but we’d already committed to Prado when that didn’t work out for Jamie.

“We’re also not sure about who’s going to ride (Gaillardia Racing’s) Wilkinson in the Louisiana Derby at the moment,” Howard said, “but one thing’s for sure – there will be somebody on him when they leave the paddock. At this point we just don’t know who.”

In another Louisiana Derby update, Catesby Clay’s Rogue Romance has sustained a slight heel bruise and will miss his previously scheduled start in the upcoming local Derby, according to a press release from Runnymede Farm. The Smarty Jones colt finished third in the Grade II Risen Star Stakes as the designed prep race for the Grade II Louisiana Derby.

“This is a minor ailment that will heal with a minimum amount of treatment,” said Runnymede general manager Martin O’Dowd in the press release. “We’re thankful it is not a serious setback, just a deviation from our original plans as we act in the horse’s best interest."

INSPIRATION OF SATURDAY’S NEW ORLEANS LADIES – The inspiration for the name New Orleans Ladies, which observes its second running Saturday at Fair Grounds as a $100,000 stakes for older fillies and mares, comes from the 1978 song of the same title. It was written by Hoyt Garrick and Leon Medica and was originally recorded by Louisiana’s LeRoux, the South Louisiana rock band that still tours the country. “New Orleans Ladies” was a smash hit regionally.

In the inaugural edition of the New Orleans Ladies last season, Arnold Zetcher’s Zardana upset 2009 Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra in a contest that subsequently earned a Horse of the Meet title for Zardana.

FG RETAIL MERCHANDISE AVAILABLE ON-LINE – Fair Grounds racing fans are now advised that they can shop for Fair Grounds retail merchandise online by logging onto fgno.com and clicking the “Shop” tab. Among the items for sale are a variety of T-shirts and the popular “Horsehead Hat.”

REMINDER: SPECIAL SATURDAY POST TIME OF 12:10 P.M. – Fair Grounds guests and fans of the Crescent City oval’s simulcast signal are reminded that there will be a special early post time of 12:10 p.m. this Saturday to accommodate the 13-race program carded for the afternoon.