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Three-Year-Old Owned by Brees, Bensel, Other Prominent NFL Personalities in Sunday

Fair Grounds will showcase a number of high-class Thoroughbreds this weekend, including 2008 American 1000 Guineas heroine Much Obliged in Saturday’s 37th renewal of the $60,000 Furl Sail Handicap, as well as last summer’s Grade III Washington Park Handicap winner Gran Estreno in Sunday’s $49,000 middle distance turf feature.

However, the horse with the most potential to ignite interest from the general public who will be running at Fair Grounds on the first weekend of 2010 is Last Mango Racing Stable’s Daddy Forty Nine, a 3-year-old son of 2004 Horse of the Year Ghostzapper going to the post in Sunday’s 10th race.

Ghostzapper was honored for his undefeated season in the past, but as a newly-turned sophomore, Daddy Forty Nine is of the generation that will point to the upcoming $750,000 Louisiana Derby March 27 and the Kentucky Derby five weeks after that.

Those are races that draw the future interest of racing’s more casual fans, but when it comes to Daddy Forty Nine, who has won four races in six career starts, there is more than that excellent race record to pique his public persona.

Last Mango Racing Stable is a group put together by Greg Bensel, vice president of communications for the New Orleans Saints, and the group also includes the team’s blessedly talented quarterback Drew Brees.

Other prominent NFL celebrities that are members of Last Mango include Mike Tirico, lead broadcaster for ESPN’s presentation of Monday Night Football as well as Jon Gruden and Ron Jaworski as the remainder of that crew.

Gruden, who coached the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to become 2003 Super Bowl champions, is the newest member of the Monday Night Football crew as well as the newest member of Last Mango

Jaworski, nicknamed the “Polish Rifle” during his days as a quarterback with the Los Angeles Rams, eventually led the 1980 Philadelphia Eagles to their lone Super Bowl appearance at the end of that season three decades before joining Monday  Night Football and Last Mango.

Another prominent celebrity that is part of Last Mango Racing is Jimmy Buffet, a former street musician who parlayed success with his first hit single “Margaritaville” into his current financial empire, but also part of the Last Mango group are a number of Bensel’s golfing buddies.

However, it is Maggi Moss, a former leading owner in number of races won during a season, who should take part of the credit for Last Mango Racing’s current ownership of Daddy Forty Niner, according to nine-time Fair Grounds trainer champion Tom Amoss.

“Maggi was the most recent owner of Daddy Forty Niner,” said Amoss, “and she sold this horse to Last Mango for a figure that was probably a little less than the horse was worth.

“She probably wouldn’t have sold this horse at all except she realized the contribution a bunch of high-profile owners like these could make in the way of publicity for Thoroughbred racing,” Amoss said.

It should also be noted that among other popular contributions Moss has made to the game is the claiming of former Cornhusker Handicap winners Lord of the Game and Siphon City, who were each claimed by Moss for $5,000 for the purpose of allowing them to retire gracefully from their racing careers long after they had each originally had earned that honor.

Louisiana Derby reservations open Jan. 4
Fans of Fair Grounds are reminded that the local oval will begin taking Clubhouse reservations for Louisiana Derby Day March 27 as of this Monday, Jan. 4. For reservations call (504) 944-5515.

Offlee Wild, Asmussen Contribute to Exciting End of 2009 in New Orleans
A third-place finish by Steve Asmussen-trained Heiligbrodt Racing Stable-owned Heavenville in a division of Fair Grounds’ $109,445 colts and geldings division of the 2009 Louisiana Futurity was enough to give Darley’s freshman sire Offlee Wild honors as the nation’s top first-crop sire.

Heavenville earned $12,040 for this third-place finish at Fair Grounds to increase Offlee Wild’s total progeny earnings to $1,951,283 in 2009 – $11,332 more than runner-up freshman sire Roman Ruler.

Meanwhile, defending Fair Grounds trainer champion and last year’s Eclipse Award-winning conditioner Steve Asmussen closed the books on his 2009 calendar year with 650 winners, eclipsing his own national record of 622 wins established in 2008 by 28 wins. It was the sixth time Asmussen has led the nation in number of winners, and the second time he has led the nation in earnings.