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Nowhere to Hide Will Scratch From Louisiana Derby

Headlines for Thursday, March 12, 2009

·         Nowhere to Hide Will Scratch From Louisiana Derby
·         Block Earns Frequent Flier Miles in Readying Giant Oak
·         Frankel Seeks Repeat With Proudinsky in Muniz
·         Florida Shippers Arrive at Fair Grounds


Nowhere to Hide Will Scratch From Louisiana Derby

NEW ORLEANS, La. – The field for Saturday’s $600,000 Grade II Louisiana Derby was reduced by one on Thursday as Fair Grounds officials learned that My Meadowview Farm’s Nowhere to Hide will be scratched.

Nowhere to Hide, who was fourth in the Grade III Risen Star Stakes here last month, will instead run in the Tampa Bay Derby Saturday at Tampa Bay Downs. Entries for the Tampa Bay Derby were taken Thursday.

Fair Grounds stall superintendent Mario Torres confirmed that Zito did not use his spot on the Tex Sutton charter from Miami to New Orleans on Thursday morning.

When Nowhere to Hide is officially scratched on Saturday morning, a field of nine will remain for the richest race of the winter in New Orleans.

Block Earns Frequent Flier Miles in Readying Giant Oak

By trainer Chris Block’s count, he has flown from Chicago to New Orleans eight times this winter to check on the status of Giant Oak, one of the contenders for Saturday’s Louisiana Derby.

“It’s actually been pretty easy,” said Block Thursday morning from Fair Grounds’ backstretch, less than 24 hours after arriving for trip No. 8 of the winter. “The airport (Midway) is right next to Hawthorne, so I’m with my other horses in the morning and then I head right to the airport.”

Block has left the day-to-day care of Giant Oak this winter to veteran trainer Neil Pessin. Block was here for the Risen Star Stakes, which marked the 3-year-old debut for the son of Giant’s Causeway, and for each of Giant Oak’s breezes.

It’s akin to a father only seeing his teenage son, to which horses early in their 3-year-old campaign are often compared, once every 10 days for the span of three months. When you do see him again, changes are evident.

“He’s been more professional about his gallops and his breezes,” Block said of Giant Oak’s development over the last month. “That’s the most noticeable thing.”

Giant Oak will school in Fair Grounds’ paddock Thursday afternoon.

Frankel Seeks Repeat With Proudinsky in Muniz

Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel has a pair of starters on Saturday’s Louisiana Derby Day presented by Budweiser, including last year’s winner of the Mervin H. Muniz Jr. Memorial Handicap, Proudinsky.

Proudinsky, a 6-year-old German-bred, will make his seasonal debut in the Muniz in his quest to become the first two-time winner in the 17-year history of the race. He last raced on Dec. 28 at Santa Anita, winning the Grade II San Gabriel Handicap.
“There were no races for (Proudinsky),” Frankel said Thursday morning from his southern California base. “And we had a long year last year so we just wanted to give him a little break.”

Wishful Tomcat, who sports the red, white and blue colors of part-owner IEAH Stables, was eighth, but only beaten 1 3/4 lengths, in the Grade II Strub Stakes at Santa Anita in his last start.

“He ran good here (in the Strub),” Frankel said. “He ran on the track that wasn’t favoring speed and he hung in there pretty good.”

The Muniz is named in honor of Fair Grounds’ veteran racing secretary, who died in 2003. Frankel captured the race named for his longtime friend for the first time last year.

“It felt good,” Frankel said. “Mervin was a good friend of mine. I just wish he was around to get the trophy from him.”

Frankel is expected to watch from California while longtime assistant Ruben Loza is here in Louisiana.

Florida Shippers Arrive at Fair Grounds

Three vans of horses made their way from Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport with Florida-based horses racing on Saturday’s card Thursday morning, arriving at Fair Grounds just before noon.

Louisiana Derby starters shipping from the Sunshine State today include morning line second choice Patena and the Ken McPeek-trained Free Country.