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'Production', C Karma Capture FG Stakes; Asmussen Ties Record

NEW ORLEANS, La. (November 22, 2008) - On a day where a pair of juveniles - Foreign Production and C Karma - won stakes races, another 2-year-old breaking his maiden in Saturday's last race at Fair Grounds allowed trainer Steve Asmussen to tie his own North American record for wins by a trainer in a calendar year.

Padua Stables' Union Strike provided the record-tying 555th win for Asmussen in a maiden event on the Stall-Wilson turf course. Asmussen also won 555 in 2004.

Luis Quinonez was aboard the son of Smart Strike - who, coincidentally, is also the sire of the most famous Asmussen trainee, 2007 Horse of the Year Curlin.

Asmussen could surpass the mark as soon as Saturday night, with two horses entered at Retama Park and two at Remington Park. He has 11 horses entered at five tracks on Sunday, including two at Fair Grounds.

In the $60,000 Old Hickory Stakes for 2-year-olds, Louisiana-bred Foreign Production pulled the upset, returning $21.80, $9.80 and $5.

"We ran him in this race to get him ready for (Louisiana) Champions Day (Dec. 13 at Fair Grounds)," said trainer James "Sweet" Hodges of Foreign Production, who is being pointed to the $100,000 Juvenile on the Champions Day card.  "He'd never been tested before today and we wanted to make sure he was as good as we thought he was."

Jockey Lonnie Meche, who guided Foreign Production to his 2 3/4-length score, was quick to agree concerning his precocious mount's future. 

"I had high hopes for this horse the first time I sat on him," said Meche.  "I took off the horse that finished second today (Bertsgoldenmissile) to ride this one, and that's not to take anything away from Bertsgoldenmissile."

That Kentucky-bred colt paid $7.40 and $3.80 in the runner-up spot while finishing a half-length to the good of Screen Your Friend, who returned $4.60.  Odds-on favorite Forty Thieves made the pace before tiring in the stretch run.

Foreign Production increased his career earnings to $108,540 with his third victory in four career starts and toured the 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:04.84 after Forty Thieves' early splits of :22:33 and :45.65.

In the $60,000 Pontalba Stakes for 2-year-old fillies, Ocala, Fla., based C Karma, owned, trained and bred by Pamela Edel, was supplemented to the race and proved worthy of the investment and the road trip with a three quarter-length victory in the 5 1/ 2-furlong sprint, touring the distance in 1:05.70. 

"I was nervous in the early part of the race," said winning rider Brian Hernandez Jr. of the daughter of 2000 Risen Star Stakes winner Exchange Rate. "Once she switched leads, she just took off."

C Karma, beaten less than six lengths in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf last fall, paid $10.20, $5.40 and $3.80 and increased her career earnings to $194,810 with her third victory in seven starts.  A Day for Dancing finished second and paid $8.20 and $4.40, while Catarina Ranch, three-quarters of a length farther back, returned $8.40.

Jockey Francisco Torres had his second four-win day in a week Saturday.

Racing resumes Sunday at Fair Grounds with a 10-race program and a first post time of 12:30 p.m.

Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, the nation's third-oldest Thoroughbred racing facility, has been in operation since 1872. Located in New Orleans, Fair Grounds is owned by Churchill Downs Incorporated (NASDAQ Global Select Market: CHDN); it also operates a slot-machine gaming facility and nine off-track betting parlors throughout southeast Louisiana. Fair Grounds' 137th Thoroughbred season will run from Nov. 14, 2008, through March 29, 2009, and its inaugural Quarter Horse meet was conducted from Aug. 20-24, 2008. Information about Fair Grounds can be found on the Internet at www.fairgroundsracecourse.com.