Mr. Sulu Stakes Serves As Day 2 FG Feature
NEW ORLEANS, La. (November 13, 2008) - Valene Farms' Autobeacat has been made the 3-1 morning line choice in a field of 14 Louisiana-breds named to the inaugural running of the $60,000 Mr. Sulu Stakes at about 1 1/16-miles over the Stall-Wilson turf course Saturday at Fair Grounds.
The Mr. Sulu, as the featured event on the second day of Fair Grounds' 2008-09 session, is restricted to accredited state-breds 3-year-olds and up, and is named in honor of one of only two Thoroughbreds to win three times on Louisiana Champions Day. The stakes serves as a designed prep for the $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Turf Dec. 13.
Prior to a 1 1/2-length victory at Louisiana Downs last month, Autobeacat was second over the main track there in the $151,000 Tiznow Handicap Sept. 20, and won the $106,000 World Series of Poker Stakes over "yielding" going the previous month. The 5-year-old gelding is trained by Eric Heitzmann and has Donnie Meche named to ride.
Capable of providing strong competition for Autobeacat is Wachtel Stables and Brous Stables' Desert Wheat, a good fourth in open company over the Keeneland grass in his last start Oct. 11 in Lexington. Last season, the 5-year-old son of Wheaton was third beaten two in the Louisiana Champions Day Turf and then fourth beaten only three-quarters in the $60,000 Dixie Poker Ace Stakes Jan. 5. Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott conditions Desert Wheat, who has Pat Valenzuela up.
Valene found the winner's circle Friday with Sammie Sam in the Si Cima Stakes, while Mott and Valenzuela teamed to win the Blushing K. D. Handicap with Stormy West.
Willist, despite a seventh-place finish in his last start, is not to be discounted after winning last season's Louisiana Champions Day and Dixie Poker Ace Stakes in New Orleans.
From the rail out, with respective jockeys, the Mr. Sulu field consists of Desert Wheat, Valenzuela; Autobeacat, Donnie Meche; Tortuga Flats, Ken LeBlanc; Castle Berry Road, Carlos Gonzalez; Wildrally, Ramsey Zimmerman; Joe's Majesty, Kerwin Clark; Brendyn Jo, Eddie Martin Jr.; Willist, Chip Bourque; Grand Minit, Jamie Theriot; Stopka, Corey Lanerie; Peteadoris, Francisco Torres; Diggy Fresh, Gerard Melancon; Snug, Lonnie Meche; and Sprightly Star, James Graham.
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.