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Multiple Gr. I Winner Telling Coming for Saturday's Grade III Fair Grounds Handicap

Alex and JoAnn Lieblong’s Telling, winner of the last two renewals of Saratoga’s prestigious Grade I Sword Dancer Invitational Handicap, will journey to New Orleans later this week from his winter home in Hot Springs, Arkansas, to shoulder the top impost of 122 pounds in the Grade III Fair Grounds Handicap over the Stall-Wilson turf course this Saturday.


The Fair Grounds Handicap is designed as the final major prep for the Grade II Mervin Muniz Memorial Handicap March 26 as the top grass race of the New Orleans oval’s winter Thoroughbred racing season contested on Louisiana Derby Day.


“We didn’t decide to send him there until yesterday,” said trainer Steve Hobby while speaking over the phone from Oaklawn Sunday morning during training hours. “We’ll blow him out once more here tomorrow and send him over there later in the week. We’ve had a horrible winter up here, but he’s been doing super and we’re anxious to get a race into him.”


Telling, a 7-year-old son of A.P. Indy out of a Deputy Minister mare, has not run since finishing sixth in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Turf at Churchill Downs Nov. 6.  His most recent work was five furlongs in 1:04.20 in the mud at Oaklawn Feb. 7 but he also had two five furlong moves in January at the central Arkansas oval.


Following his Sword Dancer score last Aug. 14 when dismissed at 10-1 in the wagering, Telling ran fifth in Belmont’s Grade I Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational when compromised by yielding ground seven weeks later on Oct. 2.


Telling also captured the 2009 Sword Dancer Invitational when overlooked at 33-1 by the upstate New York fans.


“This race Saturday (at about nine furlongs) is a little shorter than he’s used to,” said Hobby, “but he hasn’t run in awhile so he’s fresh. If there was ever a time to run him short this is it.”


Expected to face Telling in the Fair Grounds Handicap as of Sunday morning were David Holloway Racing’s Dubious Miss (117), Millennium Farms and Mike McCarty’s Expansion (118), W. S. Farish’s Hidden Glance (115), Henry Pabst’s Joinem (115), Michael Stinson’s Le Grand Cru (116), Wildenstein Stable’s Loup Breton (120), Rose Mary Chandler’s Skip a Smile (113), and Estrorace’s Workin for Hops (118).


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Feb. 13 Fair Grounds Press Notes
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Feel The Thunder Stable’s Argentine-bred Gran Estreno (120), winner of Fair Grounds’ Grade III E. R. Bradley Handicap Jan. 22 as the first leg of Fair Grounds three-race grass series for older horses, was still a possibility for the Fair Grounds Handicap as of Sunday morning.


DROSSELMEYER OUT OF MINESHAFT HANDICAP – WinStar Farm’s Drosselmeyer, winner of last spring’s Belmont Stakes and the assigned top weight of 122 pounds in Saturday’s Grade III Mineshaft Handicap at 1 1/16-miles over Fair Grounds’ main track, will not now be coming to New Orleans, according to Fair Grounds stakes coordinator Scott Jones.


“I’m told he spiked a temperature yesterday,” said Jones during training hours Sunday morning.


Adele Dilschneider’s Apart, weighted at 120 pounds as the winner of Louisiana Downs’ Grade II Super Derby and Churchill’s Grade III Ack Ack Handicap last fall, is now expected to be the starting high weight in the Mineshaft Handicap, middle jewel of Fair Grounds’ three-race series for older horses on the main track.


The Mineshaft serves as the designed final major prep for the Grade II New Orleans Handicap on Louisiana Derby Day March 26.


Others expected to contest the Mineshaft as of Sunday morning in order of weight assignments were:  Louie Roussel III and Ronnie Lamarque’s Recapturetheglory (119), Twin Creeks Racing Stable’s Mission Impazible (118), Michael Stinson’s Le Grand Cru (115), Zayat Stables’ Z Humor (115), Jim Tafel’s Fast Alex (114) and Cudney Stables and John Gunther’s Midnight Mischief (113).


Recapturetheglory won the $60,000 Louisiana Handicap Jan. 22 as the first leg of the main track series for older horses, and Mission Impazible won last year’s Grade II Louisiana Derby.


LANERIE LEAPFROGS TO FIFTH IN LOCAL STANDINGS WITH 4-WIN SATURDAY – Veteran Louisiana native reinsman Corey Lanerie, who passed the 3,000-career win milestone earlier this month, rode four winner’s Saturday at Fair Grounds to leapfrog from seventh to fifth in the local standings entering Sunday’s race day.


Lanerie won Saturday’s third race on Gallant Stable’s Majestic Harbor for trainer Paul McGee, the eighth aboard Richard, Bertram and Elaine Klein’s Eye Opener for conditioner Steve Margolis, the featured $60,000 Pelleteri Stakes astride Mrs. Yoshio Fujita’s Ravi’s Song for trainer Carl Bowman and the finale on Robert Rockwell’s Tide Rising for conditioner Donald Hecker.


About Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots
Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, the nation’s third-oldest racetrack, has been in operation since 1872. Located in New Orleans, Fair Grounds is owned by Churchill Downs Incorporated (NASDAQ: CHDN); it also operates a slot-machine gaming facility and 10 off-track betting parlors throughout southeast Louisiana. The 139th Thoroughbred Racing Season runs through March 27, 2011, highlighted by the 98th Grade II Louisiana Derby on March 26. Information about Fair Grounds can be found online at www.FairGroundsRaceCourse.com.