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Pair of Anna Win On Opening Day

Female jockeys may have developed an increasing presence at Fair Grounds in recent seasons, but having two different female riders visit the winner’s circle on opening day at the Crescent City oval – that’s a rare happening that was accomplished on Thanksgiving, the opening day of the 2010-2011 Thoroughbred Racing Season in New Orleans.

And to have two different female jockeys with the first name of “Anna” win on the same day, one would have to assume that has never been done before at Fair Grounds. Surprisingly, though, that would be an incorrect assumption.

On Thanksgiving Day, in front of hoards of native New Orleanians, jockey Anna Rosie Napravnik won the second half of the Daily Double aboard Valene Farms’ Buck’s Revenge for trainer Sturges Ducoing and a $7.60 win price.

Four races later, James Dalton’s Kelly’spremonition won the sixth race for conditioner Kenneth Hargrave with jockey Anna Roberts astride. That horse paid a whopping $61.20 win mutuel – highest price of the opening day program.

Navpravnik, one of the top female jockeys in the nation, will be hanging her tack here this winter for the first time with her engagements being handled by Derek Ducoing, while Roberts, daughter of Eclipse Award-winning Fair Grounds photographer Lynn Roberts, won five races here last season as an apprentice, became a journeyman rider last summer at Louisiana Downs and has improved steadily during her brief career. Richie Price is handling her book.

But what makes Thursday’s winning Anna twosome more unusual was that it happened last season on Feb. 8 when Napravnik made her initial one-day foray to Fair Grounds and won the fourth race that day with Jacob Haddad’s Watz His Name. In that afternoon’s finale Roberts was the winning rider aboard Nolan Creek Farm and Joann Finley’s Cherokee Caucus.  

Both Watz His Name and Cherokee Caucus were trained by Mike Stidham, who enjoyed a summer of multi-stakes success in Chicago at Arlington Park.

HEIDI HITS THE ROAD IN TIME TO SADDLE MAMBO GALLIANO Heidi Patton, wife of trainer Cory Patton, began her duties as owner-trainer Louie Roussel III’s assistant right after the conclusion of last year’s Fair Grounds season, but the dedicated young horsewoman had to put the pedal to the metal to be on hand locally to saddle Roussel’s Mambo Galliano to his winning effort in Thursday’s 85th running of the $60,000 Thanksgiving Handicap.

“I had to saddle (2008 Illinois Derby winner) Recapturetheglory on Wednesday in Chicago,” said Patton. “As soon as he was cooled out, at about 4 o’clock, I got in my car and started down to New Orleans. I drove as long as I could but I had to pull over in West Memphis to sleep for a couple of hours. I’m pretty good at knowing when to stop. Anyway, I got back on the road right away, got to Fair Grounds in time to change my shirt and walk over with Mambo Galliano for the Thanksgiving Handicap.  

“Naturally, it makes it all worthwhile when you win a race like that,” Patton said. “Luckily, our daughter Cierra is spending her time with Cory’s Mom in Mississippi, so we were able to do things the way they worked out. Next to my family, I love the horses and I want to be with them as much as I can.”

REMINDER:  HORSE OWNERS SEMINAR SATURDAY – New Orleans Thoroughbred racing fans are reminded that on Saturday Fair Grounds will host a Horse Ownership Seminar for prospective new owners at trackside from 9 to 11 a.m. in front of the Horseman’s Relations Office, across from the 1/16-mile pole.

Guests will enjoy complimentary coffee and pastries while taking in the sights and sounds of morning training hours. After training ends at 10 a.m. rising star Louisiana-based trainer Michelle Lovell and ownership managing partner Thomas J. Gallo III will address the group and remain on hand to answer questions from the audience.