Futurity Winners May Go Long

Trainer Mike Burgess was all smiles back at his Fair Grounds barn Saturday morning, enjoying the post-race afterglow of Sweet Ruston’s 3 1/2-length win in Friday’s filly division of Fair Grounds’ $107,125 Louisiana Futurity.

“She came back good,” Burgess said of the Richard Ringo-owned filly. “She was bouncing all around like she never even raced yesterday, and that surprised me a little bit because she had a little temp last week.”

Asked if Sweet Ruston, who has never been farther than six furlongs, would be pointed toward a start at two turns in her future, Burgess said, “She’s very fast away from the gate, but I don’t see anything that would stop this filly from stretching out. The ($75,000) Crescent City Oaks (March 25) could be in her future.”

Burgess saddled Ringo’s Morning Memory to win the Louisiana Futurity for fillies two years ago and saddled Ashby Thoroughbreds and Cajun Racing’s Geniesthreewishes to finish second in last year’s edition.

“Mr. Ringo does everything first class,” said Burgess of his New Year’s Eve celebration following Sweet Ruston’s victory. “He took us all downtown to a show at the Royal Sonesta. It’s all about having a good time and enjoying life with him.”

Klaravich Stable and William Lawrence’s Populist Politics, 1 3/4-length hero of the colts and geldings division of Friday’s $109,825 Louisiana Futurity, also came back well and was doing well Saturday morning, trainer Tom Amoss said. Amoss had indicated during a post-race interview Friday that if his colt shows the ability to stretch out that the ($75,000) Crescent City Derby (March 25) might be a “logical place to go.”

LOCAL OWNERS ALL ON SITE TO ENJOY MAX ME OUT’S WOODCHOPPER WIN – Trainer Leo Gabriel Jr. entered Max Me Out in Friday’s $60,000 Woodchopper Stakes, scheduled for the Stall-Wilson turf course, hoping that inclement weather would force the race to be moved to the main track – and Gabriel got his wish. 

The gelding, who would have been scratched had the race remained on the grass, responded brilliantly. Max Me Out tallied by 1 3/4-lengths over the muddy going, and that was in front of a huge crowd of his owners – all native New Orleanians – who make up the gelding’s partnership of D&G Racing, Diamond Racing and 4-Star Thunder.

“We’ve got a big crew of partners, and everybody was all here to watch him win,” said Gabriel Saturday morning. “We’ve got grandfathers, fathers, and I think one of the families has four generations involved, and it looks like (Max Me Out) came back perfect this morning.”

Since Max Me Out performed so well on the main track, could something like the $60,000 Louisiana Handicap (Jan. 22) be in his future?

“That’s a little too quick for him to come back,” said Gabriel. “Actually, I ran him back a little shorter than I wanted to this time because of the opportunity that came up. I normally don’t run this horse back that quick.”

CHAMBERLAIN BRIDGE WORKS FRIDAY TOWARD COLONEL POWER – Carl Moore Management’s Chamberlain Bridge, hero of the Grade II Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint at Churchill Downs on Nov. 6, breezed three furlongs in 39.40 Friday morning at Fair Grounds in preparation for a possible first start back in Fair Grounds’ $60,000 Colonel Power Stakes Feb. 19.

“We got just what we wanted,” said trainer Bret Calhoun later in the day. “We just wanted something easy. We’ve been ‘two-minute-licking’ it with him lately and we just wanted to get a work into him.”

Also on Friday’s worktab were Wachtel Stable, Brous Stable and J. D. Lee’s Desert Wheat, who breezed a half in 50.80, as well as Moran Racing Stable’s Classy Deelites, who went five-eighths in 1:02.80. Both those Louisiana-breds were prepping for Fair Grounds’ $60,000 Dixie Poker Ace Stakes at about a mile over the Stall-Wilson turf course on Jan. 8.

THREE FAIR GROUNDS TRAINERS AMONG NATION’S TOP 10 IN 2010 – Eclipse Award-winning trainer Steve Asmussen, also Fair Grounds’ defending trainer champion from last season, is one of three Fair Grounds-based horsemen who finished among the top 10 trainers in North America based on earnings in 2010.

Although with 506 winners in 2010 Asmussen was North America’s top trainer in number of wins, Fair Grounds’ nine-time trainer champion finished second to Todd Pletcher ($23,157,098) in earnings with $16,308,920.

Sixth on the 2010 North American leading trainers list in earnings was Bret Calhoun with $7,905,716. Calhoun now makes his residence just outside the Fair Grounds gates and showcased his 2010 season by saddling Martin Racing Stable’s Dubai Majesty to win the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf Sprint Nov. 5 and Carl Moore Management’s Chamberlain Bridge to capture the Grade II Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint Nov. 6.

Completing North America’s top 10 trainers in 2010 based on earnings was New Orleans native Al Stall Jr. with $6,256,602. Stall, who was Fair Grounds’ leading trainer of the 1997-1998 season, highlighted his 2010 by saddling Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider’s Blame to win the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs Nov. 6.