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Monday Notes: FG Oaks-Bound Kathmanblu Favored in Kentucky Oaks Future Wager

Five D Thoroughbreds and Wind River Stables’ Kathmanblu, clearly best in her most recent start in the Grade III Rachel Alexandra Stakes at Fair Grounds Feb. 19, emerged as the solid 7-2 favorite in the single pool of Churchill Downs’ 2011 Kentucky Oaks Future Wager at the conclusion of that pool’s wagering Sunday evening.

Prior to the 137th running of the Grade I Kentucky Oaks on May 6, Kathmanblu is scheduled to return to New Orleans for the 44th renewal of the Grade II Fair Grounds Oaks on Louisiana Derby Day March 26.

The purse for the Fair Grounds Oaks was boosted to $500,000 last week, making it the richest prep race for 3-year-old fillies pointing to Kentucky Oaks less than six weeks later.

Kathmanblu, trained by Ken McPeek, breezed five furlongs in 1:02.40 at Gulfstream Park Saturday morning in preparation for her upcoming assignment in the Crescent City on the last Saturday in March.

Four of the last six winners of the Fair Grounds Oaks have gone on to win the Kentucky Oaks: L and M Partners’ Rachel Alexandra in 2009; Brereton Jones’ Proud Spell in 2008, Winchell Thoroughbreds’ Summerly in 2005 and Starlight Stable’s Ashado in 2004. 

The Fair Grounds Oaks was not run in 2006 while the New Orleans oval was being rebuilt following the ravages of Hurricane Katrina.

MUCHO MACHO MAN GETS GULFSTREAM BREEZE SATURDAY – Reeves Thoroughbred Racing and Dream Team One Racing Stable’s Mucho Macho Man, best by a length and a half in the Grade II Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds Feb. 19, breezed five eighths in 1:00.80 at Gulfstream Park Saturday morning in preparation for the upcoming $1 million Louisiana Derby March 26 at Fair Grounds.

Always the centerpiece event of the New Orleans Thoroughbred racing season, this year’s Grade II Louisiana Derby will be the richest Thoroughbred race ever run in New Orleans due to its new seven-figure purse.

MAJESTIC HARBOR GETS SUNDAY BREEZE FOR LOUISIANA DERBY – Gallant Stable’s Majestic Harbor, a Rockport Harbor colt who broke his maiden with a front-running 6 1/4-length score on Feb. 12 at Fair Grounds, breezed six furlongs in 1:16.60 Monday morning in preparation for the upcoming Grade II Louisiana Derby March 26.

“I thought it was a good work for him,” said trainer Paul McGee Monday morning before leaving to drive back to Louisville to arrive in advance of some horses shipping to Churchill Downs. “Corey (Lanerie, jockey) was up on him this morning and he thought he breezed well and galloped out strong. I’ll probably fly back here to New Orleans and breeze him one more time before the Louisiana Derby.

“I breezed Demarcation five furlongs (1:02) on Saturday,” said McGee of the Amerman Racing Stables color bearer who won the Grade III Mineshaft Handicap here Feb. 19 and is prepping for the Grade II New Orleans Handicap on Louisiana Derby Day March 26. “He’s coming along just fine as well.”

The New Orleans Handicap, Fair Grounds’ premier event for older horses on the main track, had its purse boosted to $400,000 in an announcement made late last week.

WILLCOX INN LIKELY BOUND FOR KEENELAND’S BLUE GRASS STAKES – All In Stable’s Willcox Inn, third in Keeneland’s Grade I Breeders Futurity last Oct. 9 and third in Churchill’s Grade II Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf on Nov. 6, returned to competition for the first time this year with a solid runner-up finish when beaten a length in Fair Grounds’ $60,000 Grindstone Stakes last Saturday.

What might be next for the sophomore son of Harlan’s Holiday?

“As of right now, we’re leaning in the direction of the (Grade I Toyota) Blue Grass (Stakes at Keeneland on April 16),” said trainer Mike Stidham during training hours on Monday at Fair Grounds. “There are eight of us including me and Hilary (Pridham, assistant to Stidham) in on that partnership.

“The Willcox Inn is a beautiful old hotel in Aiken, South Carolina,” Stidham said. “We’ve stayed there a lot of times when we’ve gone to Aiken for the Aiken Trials in past years.”

FAIR GROUNDS HOSTS CRAWFISH BOIL WEDNESDAY FOR HORSE RESCUE – Fair Grounds Race Course will host a Crawfish Boil in the paddock area Wednesday from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. to benefit The Louisiana Horse Rescue Association, founded in 2007, and Remember Me Racehorse Rescue, founded in 2008 by Fair Grounds-based trainer Dallas Keen and his wife Donna.

The event includes a live auction, a jockey crawfish-eating contest, raffle prizes, $1 Miller Beer and more.

Tickets are $25 per person and can be purchased on site at the program booth or at the Louisiana Thoroughbred Breeders Association offices. For more information contact Sandra Salmen, horsemen’s relations (504) 948-1150 or Sandra.Salmen@fgno.com.