'Miracle', 'Wanna' Surprise in Saturday's FG Stakes

NEW ORLEANS, La. (February 28, 2009) - Tom Curtis's Milwaukee Miracle came from far back to score a 2 1/2-length victory in the $60,000 Gentilly Stakes, the first of two stakes races for 3-year-old Louisiana-breds Saturday at Fair Grounds.

In the $60,000 Sarah Lane's Oates Stakes for fillies, Daniel Family Farms' Wanna Cuddle used similar late-running tactics to tally by 2 3/4 lengths.

Milwaukee Miracle rewarded his backers with mutuels of $33.80, $15 and $7.40 while accomplishing the about 1 1/16-mile distance in 1:46.76 over the firm Stall-Wilson turf course. The Milwaukee Brew colt, trained by Robert Young, increased his career earnings to $85,630 with his third win in seven lifetime starts.

Winning jockey Donnie Meche thought Milwaukee Miracle would love his first start around two turns as well as his first over grass.

"I loved his chances going the distance," said Meche in the winner's circle. "I was in a little bit of trouble early behind the field but once he got clear he just accelerated."

Smoothcideup finished second, paying $8.80 and $5.80, while finishing a neck to the good of Hear No Angel, who returned $3.60 in the show position.  Lee City Slew made the pace with splits of 24.62 and 50.49 before tiring to finish ninth.

In the Sarah Lane's Oates, Wanna Cuddle's late rally was more than enough to defeat favored Tensas Palmyra.

"After leaving the gate I got her to relax," said winning jockey Corey Lanerie.  "Once she saw a little daylight she was much the best."

Wanna Cuddle paid $19.80, $7 and $4.60, increased her career earnings to $165,587 while winning for the third time in eight starts and covered about one mile over the turf in 1:39.66. Wanna Cuddle is trained by Sam Ishaq, who claimed his first Fair Grounds stakes win since 1992.

Tensas Palmyra returned $3 and $2.60 and longshot Sunday in the Bay paid $14.20 to show.

Royal Twine set the pace with early fractions of 23.59 and 48.85 before tiring to finish 10th.

Racing resumes Sunday at Fair Grounds with a 10-race program beginning at 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.