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Saturday Notes: Gomez Coming to FG for Road to the Derby Kickoff Day Jan. 22

Eclipse Award-winning jockey Garrett Gomez is scheduled to be in New Orleans to ride at least three horses on the Fair Grounds Road to the Derby Day Presented by Hotel Monteleone Jan. 22 program.

“Yes, we will be at Fair Grounds next week,” confirmed Gomez’ agent Ron Anderson Saturday morning speaking of his star rider, most recently nationally famous for guiding Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider’s Blame, trained by New Orleans native Al Stall Jr., to victory over Mr. and Mrs. Jerome Moss’s Zenyatta in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs Nov. 6.

“We’re coming to ride (Gaillardia Racing’s) Wilkinson for Neil Howard in the Lecomte, and two horses for Al Stall – Aide in the Silverbulletday and Apart in the Louisiana Handicap (both owned by Adele Dilschneider). We also may have another mount for (trainer Christophe) Clement in one of the other races, but he has not decided on his plans for sure yet.”

Wilkinson, who finished third behind Zayat Stable’s Justin Phillip, a highly regarded Lecomte probable starter despite a wide trip on Jan. 1, has quickly come to hand for Howard in recent days and breezed a half-mile in 49.80 last Tuesday.

Aide, fourth in Churchill’s Grade II Golden Rod Nov. 27, breezed five-eighths in 1:00.60 Jan. 8, and Apart, winner of Louisiana Downs’ Grade II Super Derby last September and Churchill’s Grade III Ack Ack Handicap Nov. 8, also breezed five furlongs in 1:00.60 when they worked in company.

ADDITIONAL LECOMTE STAKES UPDATES – The Grade III Lecomte Stakes on Road the Derby Kickoff Day Presented by Hotel Monteleone Jan. 22 at Fair Grounds is the first leg of the New Orleans oval’s sophomore series, and a Louisiana Derby Early Bird Nomination automatically includes a nomination to the Lecomte. However, owners Gary and Mary West nominated a pair of their 3-year-olds, conditioned by two different trainers based in South Florida, to the Lecomte after Louisiana Derby Early Bird Nominations had closed, and those two horsemen were asked the status of their charges Saturday morning.

“We’re going to breeze Major Gain tomorrow (Sunday),” said trainer Wayne Catalano of his More Than Ready colt who won the Grade III Arlington-Washington Futurity last September. We’re considering (the Lecomte), so I’ll get with those people after the breeze and see what they want to do.”

Tiz Blessed, a son of two-time Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Tiznow, and a colt who won Woodbine’s $150,000 Display Stakes last November, will not be coming to the Lecomte, according to trainer Chad Brown. “We’re going to pass on that race,” Brown said Saturday, speaking over the phone from Palm Meadows.

OTHER ROAD TO THE DERBY DAY WORKS – Other horses on Saturday’s work tab who are under consideration for stakes races on Road to the Derby Kickoff Day included Right Time Racing’s Bouquet Booth, a candidate for the $100,000 Silverbulletday Stakes, who went five eighths in 59.80; Richard Rudolph and Michael Vranich’s Royal Express, a candidate for the $60,000 Louisiana Handicap who went three-quarters in 1:26.60; Pin Oak Stable’s Strike Again, a candidate for the Grade III Col. E. R. Bradley Handicap, who went a half in 48.60; and Richard, Bertram and Elaine Klein’s  Early Return, a candidate for the $60,000 F. W. Gaudin Memorial Stakes, who went four furlongs in 48.60.

CHAMBERLAIN BRIDGE ALSO ON SATURDAY TAB – Carl Moore Management’s Chamberlain Bridge, hero of the Grade II Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint at Churchill Nov. 6, breezed a half-mile in 49.20 at Fair Grounds Saturday in planned preparation for the $60,000 Colonel Power Stakes on Louisiana Preview Day Presented by Lamarque Ford Feb. 19.