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Sunday Notes: McPeek Says Kathmanblu, Rogue Romance Returning for March 26 Stakes

Trainer Ken McPeek, who saddled Five D Thoroughbreds and Wind River Stables’ Kathmanblu to win Fair Grounds’ Grade III Rachel Alexandra Stakes Feb. 19 and Catesby Clay’s Rogue Romance to run third in the Grade II Risen Star Stakes on the same day, indicated Sunday morning that both the filly and the colt would be returning to New Orleans to run back in the Grade II Fair Grounds Oaks and the Grade II Louisiana Derby, respectively, on March 26.

“Everything is fine with both of them,” McPeek said Sunday morning while speaking over the phone from South Florida, “and we’re planning on coming back with both of them.”

Prior to the Rachel Alexandra, Kathmanblu had won Gulfstream’s $100,000 Sweetest Chant Stakes Jan. 22 in her 2011 debut, but Rogue Romance had not raced since finishing third in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Juvenile last Nov. 6 at Churchill Downs.

Nine years ago, McPeek saddled Select Stable’s Take Charge Lady to win the Fair Grounds Oaks and that same ownership’s Repent to capture the Louisiana Derby.

With the Louisiana Derby having its purse boosted to $1 million for its 98th running in less than five weeks, it will become the richest Thoroughbred race ever run in New Orleans.

DECISION DUE MIDWEEK ON MUCHO MACHO MAN – On the morning after the Grade II Risen Star Stakes, winning trainer Kathy Ritvo estimated that it would be about a week before a decision would be made about when and where Mucho Macho Man, owned by Reeves Thoroughbred Racing and Dream Team One Racing, would make his next start, but on Sunday morning she demurred.

“Mucho Macho Man is doing great today,” Ritvo said, speaking over the phone from South Florida, “but we just need a couple of more days to decide what’s next. We’ll probably have something decided by Wednesday.”

DECISIVE MOMENT REMAINS ON TRIPLE CROWN TRAIL – Just for Fun Stable’s Decisive Moment, fifth in the Grade II Risen Star Stakes after making the pace, has completely recovered from a slight soft tissue injury in his left hind, trainer Juan Arias said Sunday morning when speaking over the phone from Calder Race Course.

“We X-rayed him and did an ultrasound on him and he came out clean,” said Arias. “He’s back in training now and we’re looking for another race for him at the end of March.

“The (Grade II) Louisiana Derby (March 26) is definitely one of the races under consideration for him,” said Arias of Decisive Moment, who won the $250,000 Jean Lafitte Stakes at Delta Downs on Jan. 14. “We were treated very well by everyone at Fair Grounds when we came down there for the Risen Star and would love to come back to New Orleans.”

UPPERLINE, ‘WORKIN’, ‘ESTRENO’ ALL LIKELY AT FG MARCH 26 – Oakcrest Farm et al.’s Upperline, heroine of Saturday’s $58,800 Allen LaCombe Memorial Handicap at Fair Grounds, came out of her race well and was doing fine Sunday morning, according to trainer Mike Stidham.

“She looks good today,” said Stidham. “The ($100,000) Bayou Handicap (at about 1 1/16-miles over the Stall-Wilson turf course March 26) is under strong consideration for her next start.”

Asked about Estrorace’s Workin for Hops and Feel the Thunder Stable’s Gran Estreno, fourth and sixth, respectively, in the Grade III Fair Grounds Handicap over the Stall-Wilson turf course Feb. 19, Stidham said, “As of right now, we’re looking at the (Grade II) Mervin Muniz (Memorial Handicap March 26) for both of them.”

The Mervin Muniz Memorial Handicap, top turf race of the New Orleans Thoroughbred racing season, offers a $300,000 purse and will be one of four Grade II stakes races carded on Louisiana Derby Day March 26.

Gran Estreno won the Grade III Col. E. R. Bradley Handicap on the grass here Jan. 22, and Workin for Hops won the $60,000 Grindstone Stakes on the grass here a year ago on Louisiana Derby Day.