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Saturday Stakes Taking Shape
As always, the Grade III Lecomte Stakes, first leg of Fair Grounds’ sophomore series that culminates in the Grade II Louisiana Derby March 27, will be the headline attraction of this Saturday’s “Road to the Derby” card at the Crescent City oval, but probable starters slated for Saturday’s Grade III Col. E. R. Bradley Handicap, $75,000 Louisiana Handicap, and $75,000 Tiffany Lass Stakes also lend promise to an exciting afternoon of racing.
Those considered likely for two other sprint stakes this Saturday – the $75,000 F. W. Gaudin Memorial and the $75,000 Dr. A. B. Leggio Memorial – underline the challenging handicapping angles of the day.
Among the previously named likely Lecomte candidates is Sugar Bowl Stakes winner Cool Bullet as well as the first local wave of Eclipse Award-winning trainer Steve Asmussen’s sophomores, but the day before all six Saturday stakes are drawn, likely starters in the other headliners have also been checked off by stakes coordinator Scott Jones.
Barr Three and Cherrywood Racing Stable II’s Princeville Condo, winner of Fair Grounds’ Diliberto Memorial, and Kaygar Stable and Robert Gerczak’s Baltimore Bob, a close fourth in that same contest, are expected to match strides once again in the Grade III Col. E. R. Bradley Handicap at about 1 1/16-miles over the Stall-Wilson turf course, with Baltimore Bob the likely starting top weight at 120 pounds while the Diliberto winner gets in with 119. Also likely for the $100,000 Col. Bradley is Don Benge’s Wise River, assigned 119 and sixth in the Diliberto; Pin Oak Stable’s Get Rich Quick, assigned 118 and fifth in the Dilberto; Kinsman Stable’s Vanquisher, also with 118 and a fourth-place finish in the Grade III Cliff Hanger Stakes at the Meadowlands last October; and Darley Stable’s Tybalt, assigned 115 pounds despite being second by a neck in the Grade II Oak Tree Turf Mile in September of 2008.
In Saturday’s 64th running of the Louisiana Handicap for older horses at 1 1/16-miles over the main track, highweighted Good and Lucky, the race’s defending champion, has connections that are expected to accept that impost of 122 pounds after Good and Lucky’s winning effort last time in Fair Grounds’ Tenacious Handicap Dec. 20. Sand & See Stables’ Secret Getaway, second in the Tenacious a length and a half behind Good and Lucky, is weighted at 121 pounds in Saturday’s test and should match strides with that rival once again.
According to stakes coordinator Jones, Vinery Stable and Fox Hill Farms’ Friesan Fire, who swept Fair Grounds’ Lecomte, Grade II Risen Star and $750,000 Louisiana Derby last year, should be a Louisiana Handicap starter at the 118 pounds assigned, as should Tom McCarthy’s General Quarters, also with 118 pounds despite winning Keeneland’s Grade I Blue Grass Stakes last spring.
Elisabeth Alexander’s Fundy, assigned 115 pounds after a second level allowance win here Dec. 20, and James Tafel’s Coragil Cat, also with that impost after a seventh-place finish in the Tenacious, are also expected Louisiana Handicap starters.
The 18th running of Saturday’s $75,000 Tiffany Lass Stakes for 3-year-old fillies and a prelude to Fair Grounds’ Grade III Silverbulletday Stakes and Grade II Fair Grounds Oaks is expected to feature Mark Stanley’s Quiet Temper and Coteau Grove Farms’ Bella Medaglia, first and second, a length apart in a first-level allowance race here Jan. 3. Quiet Temper had previously annexed the Grade III Delta Princess at Delta Downs Dec. 4 as a maiden.
Others apparently Tiffany Lass-bound include Carl Moore Management’s Speedacious, 12-length heroine of Fair Grounds Louisiana Champions Day Lassie Dec. 12; Pop-A-Top’s Red Hot Buddha, a winner on grass here Dec. 26; Martin Cherry’s Visavis, second by a nose in Fair Grounds’ Letellier Memorial Dec. 19; and L.T.B. Inc and Miles Childers’ Sheer Beauty, third in the Letellier.
James and Marilyn Helzer’s Euroears, who won the Gaudin Memorial in 2008 on his way to further stakes scores in that season’s Colonel Power and Duncan Kenner Stakes, is expected to attempt to win his second Gaudin Memorial in three years, but Savorthetime Stables’ Sok Sok, hero of last season’s Duncan Kenner and last season’s Thankgiving Handicap, is also expected to challenge, as are Richard, Bertram and Elaine Klein’s Cash Refund, a second-level allowance winner here Dec. 27 and Churchill’s Matt Win runner-up last spring, as well as Mimicry Partnership’s Grand Traverse, winner of Fair Grounds’ $60,000 Bonapaw Dec. 19.
Lastly, the Dr. A. B. Leggio Memorial brings in Alex Solis Jr.’s Annihilation from California for trainer Dan Hendricks following a threesome of solid outings on the west coast; Jay Em Ess Stables’s Coy Cat from Kentucky after she won Turfway’s Holiday Inaugural Nov. 29; Gold Square LLC’s Lady Chace from Delta Downs following a win there Dec. 17; as well as locally-based Web’s Gems Stable’s Oculuna after a local tally on New Year’s Day, and Gainesway Stable’s Ocean Colors after a third place effort here Nov. 26.