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Mena Four Wins Shy of 1,000 Entering Friday

After riding five winners on Monday, jockey Miguel Mena remained four wins shy of the 1,000-career win milestone entering Friday’s racing program.

“Five wins Monday was very exciting for me,” said Mena, speaking in the track kitchen Friday morning during the break in training.  “Yesterday (Thursday), not so exciting, but that’s the way it goes in this business.”

Mena was winless Thursday, the next racing day at Fair Grounds.  On Monday, the Peruvian-born reinsman took the opener aboard the Wesley Hawley-leased Curlin Copy for trainer Wesley Hawley, the third on Oak Leaf’s Farce Ide for trainer Tony Richey, the sixth on Stand for owner-trainer Cody Autry, the seventh on John Stavropoulos and Cody Autry’s Keepinonestepahead for Autry, and the eighth on Andrew Farm et al.’s Celadon for trainer Ronny Werner.

On Friday, Mena was listed to ride Minshall Farms’ Buy With Gold for trainer Malcolm Pierce in the opener, the fifth on Danny and Donna Brown’s Minnirahy for trainer Hawley, the seventh on Brent Gasaway and Ian Yarnot’s Belend for conditioner Dallas Keen, and the eighth on Twin Creeks Racing Stable’s The Real Mayo for trainer Mike Maker.

During his career to date, Mena has won one riding title at Turfway, another at Ellis Park and a third at Presque Isle Downs during that track’s opening season in 2007.  The biggest win of his career so far came aboard Southern Equine Stable and Mike Smith’s Champagne d’Oro for trainer Eric Guillot in Saratoga’s Grade I Test Stakes last August.  He was fourth in the Fair Grounds standings with 55 winners entering Friday’s racing program.

CARMEL HEITZMANN NOW RECOVERING AT HOME FOLLOWING SURGERY – Owner Carmel Heitzmann, wife of trainer Eric Heitzmann and a key assistant at his Fair Grounds barn, came home from the hospital Thursday night, exactly one week after being severely kicked by a horse after the first race here on Feb. 17.

“Yes, she came home last night,” said Heitzmann during training hours Friday morning. The conditioner is enjoying a successful winter professionally at Fair Grounds with 14 winners through Thursday’s races. “She’s still in a lot of pain, but we have to expect that for a while.

“The important thing is that they think they got a good handle on her situation following the exploratory surgery immediately after the accident. That’s when they discovered that she was bleeding internally, so they took out six or eight inches of her intestines.

“So far the long-term prognosis for her recovery is good,” said Heitzmann. “It’s going to take some time before we know for sure, but we should know more about how she’s coming along somewhere during the next four to eight weeks.

“In the meantime, we’d like to thank everyone for all their good wishes and their prayers,” Heitzmann said. “We really appreciate all their positive thoughts.”

Carmel Heitzmann, 34, was born in Birmingham, England, and was serving as a hostess on Emirates Airlines when she met her husband, who was training in Dubai at the time.

The Heitzmanns had just won the opening race of the day Feb. 17 with Russell Welch’s Mr. Shorty, ridden  by Jesse Campbell, and were returning that winning 3-year-old gelding to the barn when she was kicked by another horse that had been schooling in the paddock.

“The whole thing happened right in front of me,” said Heitzmann Friday morning. “She collapsed right into my arms. There was nothing we could have done any differently at the time.”

The Heitzmanns’ won Thursday’s fourth race with Aprizeindeed, a 4-year-old filly they own by themselves that was also ridden by Jesse Campbell.

‘BLOODY MARY MONDAYS’ NOW THROUGH END OF MEET – Service industry workers are invited to spend Monday afternoons at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots. For the remainder of the 139th Thoroughbred Racing Season, running through March 27, every Monday is a “Ketel One Bloody Mary Monday” at the track with a special $7 package available exclusively to service industry workers that gets them one of Fair Grounds’ famous Bloody Mary cocktails, plus Clubhouse admission, a live racing program and 10% off Clubhouse dining.

The “Ketel One Bloody Mary Monday” deal represents a $15 value even before the dining discount. The offer is available for any service industry worker with a valid employee identification card from a New Orleans-based service-oriented workplace. Guests can purchase the “Ketel One Bloody Mary Monday” package at the Admissions booth inside the Clubhouse/Valet lobby entrance.

Ketel One Vodka is produced by Diageo, the exclusive Spirits Partner of Starlight Racing at Fair Grounds.