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Klesaris Duo Tops Old Hickory, 'Dancing' Leads Pontalba at FG

NEW ORLEANS, La. (November 20, 2008) - Trainer Steve Klesaris, stabling here for the first time this winter, has the 9-5 morning line choice entry of  Forty Thieves and Sunday Blitz in Saturday's $60,000 Old Hickory Stakes at Fair Grounds.

The 31st running of the Old Hickory is one of two 5 1/2-furlong events for 2-year-olds on Saturday's card, along with the 38th Pontalba Stakes, which is restricted to fillies. Both races were annual fixtures on the November stakes schedule at Fair Grounds until 2001, but were on hiatus for the past six seasons before returning to this winter's slate.

Padua Stables' A Day for Dancing, conditioned by seven-time Fair Grounds leading trainer Steve Asmussen, is the tepid 3-1 morning line choice in the Pontalba.

Forty Thieves, who along with Sunday Blitz is owned by Puglisi Racing LLC, disappointed when seventh in the Grade III Nashua at Aqueduct earlier this month, but won Monmouth's $200,000 NATC Futurity before that on Sept. 27.  Entrymate Sunday Blitz broke his maiden by a length and a half in his last trip to the post at Delaware Park Nov. 3.  Jockey Francisco Torres, who won four races Nov. 16 at Fair Grounds, is listed aboard both halves of the entry.

Strong competition for the Klesaris coupling in the Old Hickory could come from Churchill's Grade III Bashford Manor winner Screen Your Friend, with Pat Valenzuela in the irons, and Proud Jefe, a runner-up in the Meadowlake at Hawthorne, with James Graham up.

Completing the field for the Old Hickory, with jockeys named, is Top Cop, Ramsey Zimmerman; Tranquil Times, Jesse Campbell; Bertsgoldenmissile, John Jacinto; Foreign Production, Lonnie Meche; and Malibu Maverick, Eddie Martin Jr.

In the Pontalba, A Day for Dancing gets the morning line favorite's mantle after finishing third in Calder's $100,000 Cassidy Stakes Oct. 18.  The daughter of Dance Master won the $50,000 Prairie Meadows Debutante Sept. 13.  Corey Lanerie is slated for the saddle.

Posing a serious threat to A Day for Dancing in the Pontalba is Kays and Jays, with Valenzuela astride, who missed by neck when second in the filly division of Monmouth's NATC Futurity.

Rounding out the Pontalba, with respective riders, is Tiffany Royal, Luis Quinonez; Catarina Ranch, John Jacinto; Key Lee, Donnie Meche; Yonakee, Jesse Campbell; Timeless Miss, Francisco Torres; Hug It Out, James Graham; and C Karma, Brian Hernandez Jr.

First post for Saturday's 10-race card is 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.