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Pyro Unanimous Choice As Horse Of Meeting
NEW ORLEANS, La (March 24, 2008) - Winchell Thoroughbreds' Pyro, who skyrocketed to Kentucky Derby favoritism and was the only horse to win two graded stakes at Fair Grounds this winter, was a unanimous choice as Horse of the Meeting at the conclusion of the track's 136th season.
The sophomore son of Pulpit was also the unanimous choice as Best 3-Year-Old Male in the annual vote of media and racing officials.
Two others earned unanimous selection for divisional honors: Brereton C. Jones Proud Spell, heroine of the Grade II Fair Grounds Oaks, as Best 3-Year-Old Filly, and James and Marilyn Helzer's Euroears as Best Sprinter.
Pyro, winner of this year's Grade II $600,000 Louisiana Derby March 8 and the Grade III $300,000 Risen Star Stakes Feb. 9, is trained by Steve Asmussen, who captured his seventh Fair Grounds training title by becoming the first trainer in track history to average more than one win per day.
Proud Spell, conditioned by Larry Jones, turned the tables on champion 2-year-old filly Indian Blessing before handing that rival her first career defeat in the Fair Grounds Oaks on Louisiana Derby Day. Proud Spell was second to Indian Blessing in both the Grade III Silverbulletday Stakes in February and the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies last fall.
Euroears, trained by Bret Calhoun, kept his lifetime undefeated record intact with three straight stakes victories here - one on grass and two on dirt - with successive tallies in the F.W. Gaudin Memorial, Colonel Power Stakes and Duncan F. Kenner Stakes during the season.
Euroears was also named Fair Grounds' Best Older Horse this season over Grade II $500,000 New Orleans Handicap winner Circular Quay, last year's Louisiana Derby winner, who became only the fourth horse in Fair Grounds history to win the Louisiana Derby and New Orleans Handicap in successive seasons.
Gary Tanaka's Proudinsky, winner of the Grade II Mervin H. Muniz Jr. Memorial Handicap, narrowly edged Grade III Fair Grounds Handicap hero Daytona in the balloting for Best Male Turf Horse, and Danceroftherealm, who had a pair of stakes wins, including of the $100,000 Bienville Stakes on Louisiana Derby Day, was named Best Turf Filly or Mare.
No Surgeon, one of five horses to win four times during the meet, was selected as Best Claimer.
In divisions restricted to state-breds, Charles Castille Jr.'s Costa Rising, who was a 15-length winner of the Louisiana Champions Day Classic, was named Best Older Louisiana-Bred, and Hisse, who had a win and three seconds in five stakes starts, was tabbed as the Best 3-Year-Old Louisiana-Bred.
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. Information about Fair Grounds can be found on the Internet at www.fairgroundsracecourse.com.