Louisiana Champions Day at Fair Grounds Brings Boulet Back Full Circle
Headlines for Friday, December 12, 2008
- Louisiana Champions Day at Fair Grounds Brings Boulet Back Full Circle
- Stall Among Strong Supporters of Louisiana Champions Day
- Meteor Impact Shoots for the Stars Saturday
- Fair Grounds Jockey Colony Dominates Delta Jackpot Night
- Wild Again Remembered by Fair Grounds' Track Kitchen Family
- Fair Grounds' Sunday Mass Changes Location
NEW ORLEANS, La. - Although Jason Boulet is in the early stages of his first season as racing secretary at Fair Grounds, he is no stranger to the Crescent City oval or to the local Louisiana Champions Day which celebrates its 18th running on the second Saturday in December.
"My family raced here when I was a boy," Boulet said, "and although I'm from Lafayette, New Orleans has always been like a second home to me. I've spent a lot of winters here."
In fact, Boulet, who has also served as an assistant racing secretary at Fair Grounds in previous winters, was such a backer of Louisiana Champions Day, he took the whole concept back to Evangeline Downs when he became racing secretary there.
"Evangeline was the only track in Louisiana that didn't have a day for Louisiana-breds at the time," said Boulet, "so I started one when I got the job there. We called it ‘Louisiana Legends Night,' but it was patterned after Louisiana Champions Day here. One thing we did a little different, however, was to name each of the races after some of the Cajun legends of racing that have made positive impacts on Louisiana racing."
Boulet combined the D.S. "Shine" Young Memorial Futurity, a staple at Evangeline each summer, with new races such as the D.S. "Shine" Young Memorial, the Frank A. "Buddy" Abadie Memorial, the B.B. "Sixty" Rayburn Stakes, the Junius Delahoussaye Memorial Stakes, the Pierre LeBlanc Memorial, the Pola Benoit Memorial and the J. Archie Sebastien Stakes.
Stall Among Strong Supporters of Champions Day
Conditioner Al Stall Jr., with two Fair Grounds training titles to his credit and two runner-up finishes in the Grade II $600,000 Louisiana Derby in the last two years, has a barn full of potential again this winter.
They include Adele Dilschneider and Claiborne Farm's Tend, who won last week $50,000 Sam's Town Stakes at Delta Downs and is now being pointed toward Fair Grounds' $75,000 Louisiana Handicap Jan. 10, and B. Wayne Hughes' Map of the World, a 2009 Triple Crown possibility whose local bow was delayed by Thursday's winter weather postponement. The scheduled first-level allowance has been brought back as an "extra" for the Dec. 18 program.
Stall also saddles Brittlyn Stables' Star Guitar in an attempt for a second straight win on Louisiana Champions Day Saturday, after capturing last year's $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Juvenile.
"That's why we keep a string with Pam Fitzgerald at Louisiana Downs during the summer," said Stall, who keeps the majority of his barn on the Kentucky circuit after the winter at Fair Grounds. "Hopefully, we'll be getting plenty more good accredited Louisiana-breds from her string down there. Louisiana has a very good state-bred program."
All 11 races on Fair Grounds' Louisiana Champions Day card Saturday will be shown on HRTV. First post on Saturday is 12:30 p.m. CST.
Meteor Impact Shoots for the Stars Saturday
Charlene Touzet Thorson's Meteor Impact, winner of the 2002 Champions Day Juvenile and the 2006 Sprint, has made only three starts since that last victory two years ago and is 12-1 on the morning line of this year's Sprint. Should Meteor Impact win Saturday, he would join Mr. Sulu and Dixie Poker Ace as the only Thoroughbreds to win three times on Champions Day.
"I hope he's ready to win," said trainer Connie Tassistro this week. "He's still got a lot of run in him and he's been training like dynamite. We're going to take a shot. We think he's going to run good."
Fair Grounds Jockey Colony Dominates Delta Jackpot Night
The strength of this season's jockey colony at Fair Grounds was underlined last weekend when four of the five stakes races during Delta Downs' Jackpot Night were won by jockeys based in New Orleans for the winter.
Shaun Bridgmohan, runner-up in the Fair Grounds jockey standings last season, won last Friday's $100,000 Treasure Chest Stakes at Delta Downs aboard Millennium Farms' Rolling Sea for six-time Fair Grounds leading trainer Steve Asmussen.
Six-time Fair Grounds leading rider Robby Albarado was astride Adele Dilschneider and Claiborne Farm's Tend for his winning effort in the $50,000 Sam's Town Stakes for Fair Grounds-based conditioner Al Stall Jr.
The Bridgmohan-Asmussen tandem returned to the winner's circle with Heiligbrodt Racing Stable's Four Gifts in the Grade III $500,000 Delta Princess, and in the next race at the Vinton oval Fair Grounds-based jockey Gabriel Saez took down winning honors on Cindy Jones and Susan Knoll's My Heavenly Sign in the $50,000 Orleans Stakes for trainer Larry Jones, also Fair Grounds-based during the winter months.
Wild Again Remembered by Fair Grounds' Track Kitchen Family
Almost every Thoroughbred racing fan can remember how Black Chip Stable's Wild Again won the inaugural Breeders' Cup Classic in 1984, but the son of Icecapade who was euthanized due to the infirmities of old age earlier this month also won the 1984 New Orleans Handicap.
The Timphony family that has run Fair Grounds track kitchen for the last three decades and has served food to Fair Grounds backstretch employees for almost a hundred years easily remembers Wild Again.
Vincent Timphony, now retired and living in California, trained Wild Again. His nephew Frank Timphony now runs the track kitchen, but it was his mother Marie who took it over at its present backstretch location.
"The day Wild Again won the New Orleans Handicap my whole family was in the stands," said Frank Timphony. "My mother, my father, aunts, uncles, everybody but me was there. I was working in the kitchen. What a big day that was! And when they all went out to California and watched him win the Breeders' Cup - that was awesome!"
Prior to the opening of the track kitchen on the backstretch at its present location, the Timphony family owned the land and a number of restaurants on Fortin Street outside the Fair Grounds' gates for most of the past century.
Fair Grounds' Sunday Mass Changes Location
Fair Grounds traditional Sunday Mass will now be celebrated each week in the Black Gold Room on the second floor of the Derby Building, immediately adjacent to the Fair Grounds grandstand.
Celebrating the Mass each Sunday at 10 a.m. is Father Edmund Akordor, a native of Ghana who has lived in the United States for 12 years.