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Louisiana Derby Early Bird Noms Close Monday

Fair Grounds racing secretary Jason Boulet reminds horsemen that “Early Bird” nominations to the 98th running of the Grade II Louisiana Derby – to be contested for a purse of $1 million for the first time this year – close Monday, Dec. 13.

Early bird nominations to the annual centerpiece of the Fair Grounds meeting are $500 and also include automatic nominations to the Grade III $100,000 Lecomte Stakes, to be run at one mile and 40 yards on Road to the Derby Kickoff Day, Jan. 22, as well as the Grade II, $300,000 Risen Star Stakes, to be contested at 1 1/16-miles on Louisiana Derby Preview Day, Feb. 19.

SUPERIOR STORM SEEKING ‘LUCKY’ KARMA SATURDAY — Jac Mac Stable’s Superior Storm, who successfully defended her championship in the $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Ladies Stakes last year, will attempt a “three-peat” this Saturday in that filly and mare fixture – one of the highlights of the 20th anniversary edition of the upcoming weekend’s Louisiana Champions Day at Fair Grounds.

Superior Storm has been installed as the 6-5 choice in the morning line for the Ladies, but that favoritism is based largely on her demonstrated ability winning the race by two lengths two years ago and repeating that score in last year’s renewal by “gutting out” a length and a half win over a sloppy track obviously not to her liking.

However, it turns out that Fair Grounds-based trainer Morris Nicks and Superior Storm’s conditioner Richard Jackson are a superstitious duo, so the 5-year-old mare is once again in residence in Nicks’ barn and in the same stall that she has occupied during her previous road trips for Fair Grounds’ Louisiana Champions Day.

“When I told him I was putting her in the same stall she has had in past years he just gave me a great big grin,” said Nicks of the temporary living arrangements for the mare. “We’ve known each other for a lot of years, and I know he’s a very superstitious guy, and so am I. It doesn’t hurt to hope luck will be a lady to her once again. He (Jackson) will be getting back in town Friday to saddle her on Saturday.”

Three years ago Superior Storm won the Louisiana Champions Day Lassie while a 2-year-old. Along with Brittlyn Stable’s Star Guitar, who won last year’s $150,000 Louisiana Champions Day Classic, the two defending champions could become the first horses to win four Louisiana Champions Day races in history.

HANDICAPPING AND NEWS ON FAIRGROUNDSRACECOURSE.COM – The Fair Grounds website at FairGroundsRaceCourse.com offers extensive news and handicapping information updated daily during the live racing season. In the Racing & Wagering section you’ll find Mikolay’s Plays, selections and race-by-race analysis by paddock hostess Katie Mikolay, as well as Brian’s Pick Four, a breakdown of the Late Pick Four by handicapper Brian Kohn. Also in the Racing & Wagering section, track superintendent Pedro Zavala updates what his crew has done to the main track every morning, along with the current track conditions and turf rail position, on the page titled Track Maintenance. For in-depth reporting on Fair Grounds racing, visit the News/Blogs area, where Fair Grounds staff writer Graham Ross posts daily feature race recaps, stakes advances, feature stories and barn notes. On the right-hand side in the same section, the current blogging roster includes Rockin’ with Mocklin by jockey’s agent and Fair Grounds “insider” Rick Mocklin, plus musings from Mikolay, and Derby and Oaks Talk by Fair Grounds’ Jim Mulvihill. Also under News/Blogs, the Media Guide page archives a plethora of historical data, including stakes histories, past meet leaders, Louisiana Derby stats and more.

NEW TIP SHEET THIS SEASON – The on-track Black Gold tip sheet now features selections by veteran handicapper Rick Lee. The $2 sheet, available at every program booth, includes race-by-race picks, a “Best Bet” and a “Best Longshot.” On Dec 2, the Best Longshot was Burn Rate, the easy winner of the ninth race who paid $20 to win.