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'Tycoon' Rules FG Handicap; 'Honest' Runs True in Mineshaft
NEW ORLEANS, La. (February 7, 2009) - Saturday's Louisiana Derby Preview Day undercard at Fair Grounds was highlighted by Charlotte Musgrave's Diamond Tycoon, who came from well off the pace to capture the $125,000 Grade III Fair Grounds Handicap under a masterful ride by Julien Leparoux.
Saturday's grass test was the final local prep for next month's $500,000 Grade II Mervin H. Muniz Jr. Memorial Handicap on Louisiana Derby Day March 14.
Diamond Tycoon, who won for the third time in as many starts at Fair Grounds this winter, paid $9, $4.40 and $3.80, while Windward Islands, who returned $2.60 and $2.20, rallied to gain the place by three-quarters of a length from Corrupt, who paid $4.20.
Trained by Andrew McKeever, Diamond Tycoon toured about a mile and an eighth over the Stall Wilson turf course in 1:52.12.
"We changed his style from Kentucky, where he was close," said McKeever. "He likes to come from behind. It's going to be hard to leave New Orleans with this horse."
Jimmy Simms, who recorded early splits of 25.22 and 52.01 in the Fair Grounds Handicap, tired to finish fifth.
One race earlier, favored Honest Man got trainer Larry Jones' Louisiana Derby Preview Day off to a good start when the 5-year-old son of Unbridled's Song challenged entering the lane and then drew off for a decisive 4 1/4-length tally in Saturday's Grade III Mineshaft Handicap, the final local prep for next month's Grade II New Orleans Handicap.
Patiently ridden by Gabriel Saez, Honest Man covered the 1 1/16-mile distance in 1:44.16, increased his career earnings to $476,450 with his seventh win in 13 lifetime starts and paid $6, $4, and $3.40.
"Everything was comfortable," said Saez. "We were letting (highweighted My Pal Charlie) go and I was sitting behind him, and it was very comfortable after that."
Good and Lucky, winner of last month's Louisiana Handicap, rallied late to gain the place in the Mineshaft, returning $7.60 and $5.20 while finishing 1 1/2-lengths to the good of Brothers Nicholas, who paid $7 to show. My Pal Charlie set early fractions of 25.52 and 49.19 before weakening to finish fourth.
Earlier on Saturday's card, Stanley Seelig's Precious Kiss ($6.60) rallied in the late stages of the $75,000 Pan Zareta Stakes to take that traditional filly-and-mare sprint by 1 1/4-lengths. Trained by Patrick Mouton and ridden by John Jacinto, the 5-year-old Kissin Kris mare toured the three-quarters in 1:11.14 and increased her career earnings to $223,520 with her seventh win from 25 lifetime starts.
In the $75,000 Colonel Power Stakes at about 5 1/2 furlongs on the Stall-Wilson turf course, Carl Moore's Chamberlain Bridge dueled for the lead throughout before drawing off for a three-length score. The 5-year-old gelding paid $5, increased his career earnings to $316,931 with his eighth win from 15 starts and accomplished the distance in 1:03.33.
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.