Home of the Louisiana Derby

Stay Put May Await Risen Star if 'Bullet' Fires at Lecomte

Trainer Steve Margolis and his tight-knit crew were awarded “Barn of the Month” honors Saturday at Fair Grounds, but after Sunday’s 10th race Margolis also became “man of the hour” when his highly regarded 3-year-old prospect Stay Put, owned by Richard, Bertram and Elaine Klein, scored a decisive one-length tally in a race with possible long-range Louisiana Derby implications.

That’s because less than an hour earlier (59 minutes to be exact) Margolis had reached the winner’s circle with What’s New – another sophomore owned by the Klein family who broke his maiden impressively by two lengths in Sunday’s eighth race.

So what’s new and what’s next for the Margolis trainees, which also include this season’s $60,000 Sugar Bowl Stakes winner Cool Bullet, owned by Winmore LLC?

“Nothing has been finalized in my mind yet about future plans for any of them,” said Margolis Monday morning, “but right now I’m thinking about holding Stay Put back for the (Grade II $300,000) Risen Star on Feb. 20.  We think coming back in three weeks for the (Grade III) Lecomte (Jan. 23) might be pushing things a little. We already know he can go two turns.

“Besides, I already have Cool Bullet pointing to the Lecomte,” Margolis said. “In fact he was on the track this morning and he went very well. I’ll probably work him one more time and put him in the Lecomte to see if he can go turns, and as for What’s New, I really haven’t decided anything about what might be next for him,” Margolis said.

Of course, Margolis also has the promising 3-year-old filly Visavis, owned by Martin Cherry and second by a nose in the Letellier Memorial Dec. 19, as a member of his talented barn.

“I’ll probably point her toward the $75,000 Tiffany Lass (Jan 23) next and see how she does in there,” Margolis said, “and as for Cash Refund (another Klein family color bearer) – maybe I’ll look at the Gaudin Memorial (Jan. 23) for him.”

Worldly Probable for Lecomte
Jay Em Ess Stable’s Worldly, third in Churchill’s Grade II Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes Nov. 28 and second by a length to Stay Put in Sunday’s feature for Louisiana Derby hopefuls, will probably be pointed for Fair Grounds’ Grade III Lecomte Stakes as his next start, indicated trainer Paul McGee Monday morning.

The Lecomte, to be contested at a mile and 40 yards on Jan. 23, is the first race on the road to the Louisiana Derby, and is followed by the Grade II, $300,000 Risen Star at 1 1/16-miles Feb. 20 and finally by the nine-furlong Grade II, $750,000 Louisiana Derby on Mar. 27.

“Worldly came back really good yesterday,” said McGee Monday morning. “I thought he ran a big race. He was a little rank early, but Cisco (jockey Francisco Torres) took him back and settled him down. I was pleased with the way he came running at the end.  Right now I’m leaning toward the Lecomte with him.”

Greycliff Exchange Surprises Sunday in Grass Feature
Diamond Racing’s Greycliff Exchange went from worst to first in Sunday’s $49,000 allowance optional claiming feature over Fair Grounds’ Stall-Wilson turf course, surprising most with a $28.80 win mutuel under a heady ride by Corey Lanerie.

“I was following the two horses closing in front of me,” said Lanerie after the race, “but it looked like they were starting to drift out and would have taken me to the outside fence, so I ducked back to the inside and was able to get up in the last strides.”

Trainer Leo Gabriel Jr. was asked what might be the next spot for Greycliff Exchange with the grass series for older horses beginning in less than three weeks.

“I don’t think we want to put this horse in the (Grade III) Col. Bradley (Jan. 23),” Gabriel said. “That might be too much of a step up right now. Maybe we’ll bring him back in another race with the same conditions as (Sunday) with a $49,000 pot.  

“Also, there’s a race coming up at Sam Houston (Grade III John B. Connally Breeders’ Cup Turf Handicap Jan. 30) that we might take a look at,” Gabriel said. “Sometimes, those races over there with a $200,000 pot don’t come up quite as salty as you would think. We’ll see how things go.”