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HRTV to Air "Fair Grounds After Katrina" Special on Sunday; Lecomte Probables

For the benefit of Fair Grounds’ faithful fans who may have missed it the first time around, HRTV will air a special encore presentation of “Inside Information: Nowhere to Run” this Sunday at 7 p.m. CST.

The show, which was recently named as the runner-up for an Eclipse Award in the television feature category last year, details the devastating effect Hurricane Katrina had on the nation’s third oldest racecourse and the city of New Orleans but it also records the historic oval’s determined recovery and eventual reopening in time for its 2006-2007 racing season.

“I was well-versed in the history of Fair Grounds, and the racecourse’s rebuilding after the fire of 1993, well before we did this piece,” said Amy Zimmerman, executive producer for HRTV earlier this week. “That’s because I was originally hired by Jane Goldstein, the now-retired New Orleans native and longtime publicist at Fair Grounds who later went on to Hialeah and then Santa Anita where I first met her more than 20 years ago.

“After Katrina, just like after the fire, there was some question about Fair Grounds ever being rebuilt,” said Zimmerman, “but time and again, Fair Grounds has served as the heartbeat of the community, and after Katrina it was emblematic of an entire city trying to recover.

“Most of the piece was shot around the time of last year’s Louisiana Derby,” Zimmerman said. “The biggest problem we had was finding footage detailing the actual reconstruction of the plant, but Matt Wolff and Kyle McVey, the co-producers of the show, did a tremendous job putting the whole thing together.”

Interviews with New Orleans-born horsemen such as Al Stall Jr. and Tom Amoss, who between them have won 12 Fair Grounds training championships, present personal stories about Fair Grounds as an essential fabric that has always woven the city together.

Also, an interview with Lieutenant Lamont Thompson of the Fair Grounds Security Department, who stayed onsite throughout the storm and its aftermath, gives added reality to the entire experience.

This is a show well worth watching if missed the first time around – and of well worth seeing repeatedly by residents of New Orleans and all the Fair Grounds faithful.

Two Asmussen Trainees Considered Probable for Next Weekend’s Grade III Lecomte Stakes
Eclipse Award-winning trainer Steve Asmussen is the conditioner of two 3-year-olds considered probable at this time for next Saturday’s Grade III Lecomte Stakes, first leg of Fair Grounds’ three-tiered sophomore series that culminates with the 97th running of the Grade II Louisiana Derby March 27.

A field of about seven is expected for the $100,000 Lecomte, contested at a mile and 40 yards Jan. 27 as the kickoff of Fair Grounds’ Road to The Derby, and the local 3-year-old fixture is to be followed by the Grade II Risen Star Stakes at 1 1/16-miles Feb. 20.

The series concludes with the Louisiana Derby on the last Saturday in March, with its new increased purse of $750,000 as well as its new distance of nine furlongs. As the centerpiece event of the New Orleans racing season, the Louisiana Derby will be contested five weeks prior to the Kentucky Derby

Asmussen, defending trainer champion at Fair Grounds, has indicated that Third Street Partners’ Depaul as well as Bob Zollars and Mark Wagner’s Letsgetitonmon will be his Lecomte starters.

Depaul, a son of Dixieland Band who broke his maiden by 5 1/ 4-lengths last Aug. 29 at Calder, returned to competition at Fair Grounds Jan. 3 and ran seventh after the layoff of more than four months in an allowance optional claiming race. However, the colt breezed five furlongs in 1:03.20 at the local oval on Wednesday.

Letsgetitonmon, by Maria’s Mon, also breezed five-eighths here Wednesday in 1:03.20 after closing fast to finish third in that same allowance optional claiming race with Depaul. The gray had previously run fifth in Churchill’s $60,000 Grand Canyon Handicap over the Louisville lawn despite bobbling at the start.

Priscilla Graham’s Turf Melody, third in Arlington’s $50,000 Spectacular Bid Stakes Aug. 8 and third in Woodbine’s $150,000 Swynford Stakes Sept. 13, most recently won Remington’s $200,000 Springboard Mile Dec. 13 and is easily the most experiences of the Lecomte probables. Another Maria’s Mon colt, Turf Melody, trained by Graham Motion, breezed five furlongs in 1:05 Friday morning at Fair Hill training center in Maryland.

Also being pointed for the Lecomte is Winmore LLC’s Cool Bullet, winner of Fair Grounds’ $60,000 Sugar Bowl Stakes in his last start Dec. 19 and one of several Steve Margolis trainees projected as possible Louisiana Derby hopefuls. Cool Bullet, by past Preakness winner Red Bullet, breezed six furlongs in 1:16 Thursday.

Others probable for the Lecomte include Jack Hammer’s Ron the Greek, fourth in Remington’s Springboard Mile. That Florida homebred, trained by nine-time Fair Grounds trainer champion Tom Amoss, worked five furlongs over the local oval in 1:02.80 Friday morning. Estrorace Stable’s Workin for Hops, trained by Mike Stidham, won his last start in an allowance optional claiming race over Fair Grounds Stall-Wilson turf course by four and a half lengths Dec. 28. Gary and Mary West Stables’ Callide Valley, absent since a fifth-place finish in the Grade II Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill Nov. 28, worked five furlongs handily in 1:01.60 at Palm Meadows Friday morning.

Reminder: Fair Grounds Saturday Post Time Change to 12:40 p.m.
Fair Grounds racing fans are reminded that beginning this weekend, Saturday and Sunday first race post times will be 12:40 p.m., and first post on weekdays will be at 1:10 p.m.