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My Pal Charlie Set For 4-Year-Old Bow In Mineshaft

Headlines for Wednesday, February 04, 2009

  • My Pal Charlie Set For 4-Year-Old Bow in Mineshaft
  • French Beret Gets Quick Road Trip Before FG Handicap
  • Albarado To Make Special Appearance At Saturday Book Signing
  • Jessica On The Road Again To HRTV, Vegas


My Pal Charlie Set For 4-Year-Old Bow in Mineshaft

NEW ORLEANS, La. - The focus on Louisiana Derby Preview Day Saturday at Fair Grounds will be on the 3-year-old divisions, but a horse that made some noise as a sophomore in 2008 will launch his 4-year-old campaign as well on Saturday.

B. Wayne Hughes' My Pal Charlie is the 121-pound highweight and will contend for favoritism in the $125,000 Grade III Mineshaft Handicap, one of four graded stakes on Saturday's program.

My Pal Charlie, who was second to Pyro in the Grade II Louisiana Derby last March and won the Grade II Super Derby at Louisiana Downs in September, has not started since a fourth-place finish behind Albertus Maximius in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile on Oct. 25 at Santa Anita.

That race provided more than its share of excitement for trainer Al Stall Jr. and the horse's connections. My Pal Charlie made a sweeping move in the turn for home and briefly took the lead before finishing 1 3/4 lengths behind the winner, who went on to capture the Donn Handicap last weekend at Gulfstream Park.

"Everybody got extremely excited," Stall said. "All in all, we were happy with the race."

From that point on, Stall said, the goal was the Mineshaft. "We turned him out down here, freshened him and pointed for the Mineshaft all along," he said.

"I'm looking forward to running (Saturday) and seeing how we stack up," Stall said.

The eight-horse field for the Mineshaft also includes 2008 Mineshaft winner Grasshopper, slated to make his first start in six months, and the first three finishers from last month's Louisiana Handicap - Good and Lucky, Secret Getaway and Honest Man.

Stall will also send out another Hughes color-bearer on Saturday - Map of the World in the $200,000 Grade III Risen Star Stakes.

Map of the World was third behind another Risen Star starter, the Steve Asmussen-trained Dumar, in a first-level allowance on Jan. 17. "It was his first race around two turns," Stall said, "and he got in a lot of trouble."

The son of Hennessy drew the rail in the field of 13, which "kind of firmed everything up for us," Stall said. "We'll lead him over there (Saturday) and see what happens."

Curt Bourque will ride both My Pal Charlie and Map of the World on Saturday.

French Beret Gets Quick Road Trip Before FG Handicap

Sam-Son Farms' French Beret, who got the right end of a head-bobbing finish in capturing the $100,000 Grade III Col. E.R. Bradley Handicap for the second consecutive year last month, took a little trip to Ocala, Fla., after his win before returning to New Orleans for Saturday's $125,000 Grade III Fair Grounds Handicap.

"We just wanted to freshen (him) up a little bit," said trainer Mark Frostad of the horse known in his barn as "Frenchy."

"He was still in training," Frostad added, "but he got some turnout time. He enjoyed it - a new lease on life, maybe."

As he did in the Bradley, Frostad will send out a coupled entry in the Fair Grounds Handicap with French Beret and Windward Islands. Both should like the additional sixteenth of a mile of Saturday's race, which will be run at about 1 1/8 miles over the Stall-Wilson turf course.

But, Frostad reminded about French Beret, "you never know quite what to expect from him."

The Fair Grounds Handicap field also includes Grade III winner Demarcation and a pair of horses with stakes wins over the local course, Jimmy Simms and Corrupt.

Frostad also has a new horse in his local string, Grand Adventure, who has not started since the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf. Frostad is hopeful of getting the son of Grand Slam a start at Fair Grounds before meet's end.

Albarado To Make Special Appearance At Saturday Book Signing 

Six-time Fair Grounds leading rider and two-time Eclipse Award finalist Robby Albarado will make a special appearance at author Ed McNamara's book signing Saturday at Fair Grounds.

McNamara will sign his new book published by Daily Racing Form, "Cajun Racing," from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. on Saturday. Albarado, a Lafayette native who has an entire chapter of the book dedicated to his career, will be on hand for the first half-hour.

"Cajun Racing" is on sale in the Paddock Gift Shop on the east end of the first floor at Fair Grounds.

Jessica On The Road Again To HRTV, Vegas

Fair Grounds racing analyst Jessica Pacheco, fresh off a trip to New York for TV and in-person appearances with New York City OTB, is on the road again Thursday and Friday to help promote Louisiana Derby Preview Day.

Pacheco will be at HRTV's studios in Arcadia, Calif., on Thursday, making several on-air appearances to discuss both Thursday's Fair Grounds card and the six stakes on Preview Day.

On Friday, Pacheco and Daily Racing Form national correspondent Jay Privman will co-host a seminar at the Orleans Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas beginning at 9 a.m. PST. They will go over Friday's card as well as the Preview Day 11-race program. The Orleans will offer complimentary coffee and donuts at the seminar.

Rick Mocklin will again sit in for Pacheco on-track on Thursday and Friday.