Friesan Fire Crowned Fair Grounds Horse of the Meeting
NEW ORLEANS, LA (March 30, 2009) - Vinery Stable and Fox Hill Farm's Friesan Fire, who captured the Grade II Louisiana Derby by the largest margin in 46 years, was an overwhelming choice as Fair Grounds' Horse of the Meeting for the track's 137th season that concluded Sunday.
Horse of the Meeting and top honors in 10 divisions are selected annually by local media and racing officials.
Prior to his 7 1/4-length tally in the Louisiana Derby March 14, the Kentucky-bred colt trained by Larry Jones and ridden by Gabriel Saez also won the Grade III Lecomte Stakes Jan. 10 and the Grade III Risen Star Stakes Feb. 7.
Friesan Fire became the first horse in 16 years to sweep the Louisiana Derby series and the first horse ever to win three graded stakes in a single Fair Grounds meet. Based on those accomplishments, Friesan Fire was also a unanimous choice as this season's best 3-year-old male.
Also a unanimous choice as best local 3-year-old filly was Rachel Alexandra, whose eye-opening tally in the Grade II Fair Grounds Oaks stamped her as a favorite for this spring's Kentucky Oaks. Owned by L & M Partners, trained by Hal Wiggins and ridden by Calvin Borel, Rachel Alexandra is aiming to become the fourth filly of the last five Fair Grounds Oaks winners to win the Kentucky Oaks.
West Point Thoroughbreds' Macho Again regained his highly regarded stature in the Grade II New Orleans Handicap and was named Fair Grounds' best older horse based on that accomplishment. Trained by Dallas Stewart, the 4-year-old gray by Macho Uno was runner-up in Louisiana Downs' Grade II Super Derby last fall. Seven-time Fair Grounds leading rider Robby Albarado was aboard in the New Orleans Handicap.
Charlotte Musgrave's Diamond Tycoon, who went 3-for-3 this winter, including a win in the Grade III Fair Grounds Handicap Feb. 7, was named best turf horse of the local season as a narrow choice over the German-bred Proudinsky, who became the first horse in Fair Grounds history to win back-to-back renewals of the Grade II Mervin H. Muniz Jr. Memorial Handicap. Diamond Tycoon was injured prior to the Muniz.
Also unanimously selected in Fair Grounds' season-ending poll was Brittlyn Stable's Star Guitar, who captured older Louisiana-bred divisional honors. Star Guitar remains undefeated in competition among accredited Louisiana-breds, but finished seventh in the New Orleans Handicap.
The other state-bred divisional honors went to Tom Curtis's Milwaukee Miracle, selected this season's Louisiana-bred 3-year-old after winning the Gentilly Stakes and the Crescent City Derby.
Fair Grounds' best older filly or mare was Darley Stable's Tizaqueena, who closed out her local campaign with a win in the $60,000 Fortin Handicap on March 21.
Savorthetime Stables' Sok Sok, who bookended his local campaign with wins in the Thanksgiving Handicap and the Duncan F. Kenner Stakes, was named Fair Grounds' best sprinter.
Best claiming horse of the meeting was the 10-year-old Rockhurst, who went 4-for-4 during the meet.
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 concluded its 137th Thoroughbred season on March 29, 2009, and will host its second Quarter Horse meet from Sept. 8-19, 2009. Information about Fair Grounds can be found on the Internet at www.fairgroundsracecourse.com.