Six Stakes Showcase Saturday's RTTD Kickoff Day Program
NEW ORLEANS, La. (January 8, 2009) - "Derby fever" spikes an early temperature Saturday as the $100,000 Grade III Lecomte Stakes headlines "Road to the Derby" Kickoff Day at Fair Grounds.
The Lecomte is one of six stakes offering a total of $500,000 in purses on the expanded 11-race program, including the Grade III Col. E.R. Bradley Handicap for older horses at about 1 1/16 miles over Fair Grounds' Stall-Wilson turf course, and the $75,000 Tiffany Lass Stakes at one mile for 3-year-old fillies.
Rounding out the stakes portion of Saturday's Fair Grounds program is the 63rd running of the $75,000 Louisiana Handicap for older horses over the main track; the $75,000 F.W. Gaudin Memorial Stakes at six furlongs for older sprinters, and the $75,000 Dr. A.B. Leggio Memorial Stakes at about 5 1/2 furlongs for older grass specialists.
Clarence Scharbauer Jr.'s Indygo Mountain has been installed as the 3-1 morning line choice in the $100,000 Lecomte. The chestnut son of A. P. Indy will break from the outside Saturday and be ridden by Jamie Theriot, who is chasing a second straight Fair Grounds riding title.
In the Bradley, the first of three graded stakes over Fair Grounds' turf , Don Benge's Wise River, winner of last fall's Grade III Robert F. Carey Memorial Handicap at Hawthorne and second in this season's "Buddy" Diliberto Memorial at Fair Grounds, is the tepid 3-1 morning line choice in the field of 10. Francisco Torres is scheduled to ride.
In the Tiffany Lass, which will kick off an all-3-year-old daily double when coupled with the Lecomte, Helen Alexander and Helen Groves' undefeated Selva is pegged as the 9-5 morning line choice in the field of five sophomore fillies. Selva won last summer's $100,000 Sorority at Monmouth and Woodbine's $152,000 Glorious Song Stakes last fall. Julien Leparoux has the mount.
In the Louisiana Handicap, Fox Hill Farms' Honest Man, winner of Monmouth's Grade III Iselin last summer, has been tabbed the 5-2 early favorite among 11 older horses after most recently finishing fourth in the Grade II Kentucky Cup Classic Sept. 27 at Turfway Park.
In the Gaudin, Haras Santa Maria de Araras' Roi Maudit, conditioned by Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott and third in the Thanksgiving Handicap here on Nov. 27, is 2-1 early choice in a field of six, while in the Leggio, Robert Gramer's Kalookan Dancer is pegged the 3-1 early choice among 11 grass sprinters.
Saturday's six stakes are carded as Races 4-9 will be grouped together in an all-stakes Pick 6. An all-stakes Pick 5 and Pick 4, each with 50-cent minimums, are also on the wagering menu.
First post for Saturday's 11-race program is at 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.