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Notes: Cash Refund, Backtalk Come Back Fine After Saturday Doozy; Snakebite Kit; Silverbulletday Preview

The much-anticipated matchup between Richard, Bertram and Elaine Klein’s Cash Refund and Gold Mark Farm’s Backtalk in a $53,000 allowance optional claiming Saturday at Fair Grounds lived up to its billing, giving guests at the local oval and simulcast fans across the continent one of the most exciting stretch duels seen during the 2010-2011 Thoroughbred Racing Season in New Orleans.

When it was over, with Cash Refund losing his pacesetting lead briefly to Backtalk at the furlong grounds but coming back gamely to best that rival by a neck, those who witnessed the six-furlong sprint either in person or on a television screen could not deny they had seen Thoroughbred racing as it was meant to be.

Naturally, Steve Margolis and Tom Amoss, Cash Refund and Backtalk’s trainers listed in the respective order of their horses’ Saturday finish, had different sentiments concerning the outcome but both conditioners reported that their horses came out of the race without noticeable problems and were doing well Sunday morning.

“Cash Refund came back great,” said Margolis Sunday morning of his charge who won both the $75,000 Gaudin Memorial and $105,000 Duncan F. Kenner Stakes last season here. “We have Early Return (this season’s $60,000 Bonapaw runner-up also owned by the Kleins) being pointed for the Gaudin (Jan. 22) and Due Date (this season’s Bonapaw winner owned by the Kleins) getting ready for the ($60,000) Colonel Power (to be run Feb. 19) so we’ll probably wait with Cash Refund and bring him back in the Kenner (March 26) at the end of the season.”

“(Backtalk) is fine,” said Amoss Sunday morning of his Smarty Jones colt who won Churchill’s Grade III Bashford Manor and Saratoga’s Grade II Sanford as a juvenile and was third in this season’s Bonapaw, “but his race yesterday was very disappointing. Steve’s horse got an easy lead yesterday and I think that hurt our chances. Right now, I don’t know what will be next for Backtalk. I’ll have to think about it.”

SNAKEBITE KIT TO TRY OPEN COMPANY IN GRADE III COL. E. R. BRADLEY ’CAP – Trainer Eddie Johnston, who saddled Charles Zacney and his co-owned Wildrally to win last Saturday’s $60,000 Dixie Poker Ace Stakes, also revealed that his trainee Snakebite Kit, owned by Steve Hartman and winner of the $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Turf Dec. 11, might try open company next in the Grade III Col. E. R. Bradley Handicap Jan 22.

That race, first leg of Fair Grounds’ grass series for older horses, is one of six stakes – two of which are graded – slated for the upcoming Road to the Derby Kickoff program less than two weeks away, and is scheduled to be run at about 1 1/16-miles over Fair Grounds’ Stall-Wilson turf course.

“We’re definitely thinking about it,” said Johnston, speaking of Snakebite Kit’s participation in the Col. E. R. Bradley just prior to saddling Wildrally to win in the Dixie Poker Ace. “We’d like to try a Grade III with him, especially at this turf course. He likes this turf.”

DISTAFF SET SHAPING UP FOR FAIR GROUNDS’ SOPHOMORE FILLY SERIES – While the field of colts and geldings being pointed for the Grade III Lecomte Stakes on Road to the Derby Kickoff Day Jan. 22 was still taking shape Sunday, the 3-year-old fillies being considered for the $100,000 Silverbulletday on that same afternoon is more defined.

This year’s newly-named Silverbulletday Stakes is now the first leg of the sophomore filly series and was run last year as the Tiffany Lass. Last season’s Silverbulletday Stakes as the middle leg of that series, has been renamed the (Grade III) Rachel Alexandra Stakes and will be run Feb. 19. The final leg – the Grade II Fair Grounds Oaks – remains with the same name and will be contested on Louisiana Derby Day March 26.

Trainer Steve Margolis, who had a slew of male sophomores in his barn last season, has none of those now but does have two fillies possible for the upcoming Silverbulletday.

“I have one named Little Miss Holly (owned by Gold Square) and another named Bouquet Booth (owned by Right Time Racing),” said Margolis on Sunday. “I’m thinking about the Silverbulletday for both of them.”

Little Miss Holly, who broke her maiden with a six-length win here Dec. 9, breezed a bullet five-eighths in 1:01.40 Jan 3, while Bouquet Booth, who broke her maiden at Keeneland Oct. 15 and won the Grade III Delta Princess at Delta Downs Nov. 20, breezed a bullet five furlongs in 59.80 here on  New Year’s Eve.

Canandian trainer Josie Carroll is also thinking about the Silverbulletday with two of her trainees. “Right now I’m planning on the Silverbulletday for a filly I have named Inglorious (owned by Donver Stable),” she said, “but I’m also thinking about running another filly I have named Achieving (owned by Hill ‘n’ Dale Equine Holdings and James and Alice Sapara) in there.”

Inglorious is undefeated after two starts over Woodbine’s Polytrack course, breaking her maiden at first asking in Woodbine’s $150,000 Fanfreluche at six furlongs and winning again in the $150,000 Ontario Lassie Stakes Dec. 4 at 1 1/16-miles. The daughter of Hennessy breezed a bullet half in 48 on Jan. 4 here.

Achieving, a daughter of Bernadini out of a Storm Cat mare, finished fourth in her career debut here Jan. 2.

Also being pointed for the Silverbulletday, according to trainer Al Stall Jr., is Adele Dilshneider’s Aide, who breezed five furlongs in 1:00.60 here Saturday after finished fourth in Churchill’s Grade II Golden Rod Stakes on Nov. 27.

EARLY LOOK AT SATURDAY’S HAPPY TICKET, JOHN JACKSON MEMORIAL STAKES – Considered likely at this time for Saturday’s $60,000 Happy Ticket Stakes, restricted to accredited Louisiana-bred older fillies and mare at five and a half furlongs, are Marcia LaMarche’s Anything But Quiet, Southern Equine Stables’ Cajun Conference, John Duvieilh and Keith and Earl Hernandez’ Cherry Forever, Brittlyn Stables’ Good Human Bean, Bill and Denise Morrison’s Shutupanddance and Carl Moore’s Speedacious.

Probable for Saturday’s $60,000 John Jackson Memorial, for older accredited Louisiana-breds at five and a half furlongs, are Midwest Thoroughbreds’ Down the Road, Lee Young Farm’s Flashy Wise Cat, Foxwood Plantation’s Foreign Production, Carlton Foster’s Mr. Porter, and Charles Fletcher’s  My Star Runner.