• Team Benson Relishes Recent Success
• Regardless of Weather Conditions, Scherer is Ready to Roll for Saturday Stakes
• Midnight Fantasy Heavily Favored in Louisiana Futurity Fillies Division
By Ryan Martin
TEAM BENSON RELISHES RECENT SUCCESS
The potentially exciting weekend that awaited Team Benson did not disappoint. In fact, it overlapped into the following week.
The day after G M B Racing’s Tom’s d’Etat scored his fourth straight victory in the Tenacious Stakes, owner Gayle Benson’s New Orleans Saints clinched home field advantage throughout the playoffs with a victory against the Pittsburgh Steelers. On Wednesday afternoon, G M B Racing scored the double in the ninth and tenth races at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots with Stuart Hall (41.40, 17.20 and 9.40) and Tom Management (20.80, 11.40 and 7.40). The double paid $266.70 for a dollar.
“We came off a really strong Churchill meet and we almost had a shot at the owner’s title,” said G M B Racing Manager Greg Bensel, who noted that G M B Racing had won four of their seven starts at the Louisville oval this past fall. “We got off to a hot start here with Tom’s d’Etat winning and the two back to-backs. It looks good and we’re really pleased with everything right now and hopefully we maintain this ride because it’s been a lot of fun.”
Speaking of Tom’s d’Etat, the 5-year-old son of Smart Strike could possibly race in the Grade I $9 million Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park on January 26.
“It definitely would be exciting and is definitely under consideration,” Bensel said. “We’re looking into it and there is no guarantee we’re doing it but it’s under consideration. We’ll see what options we have. He came out of the race well and he’s sound. Who knows how much longer we have with him so maybe Pegasus fits in with him.”
Bred in Kentucky by SF Racing, Tom’s d’Etat was purchased for $330,000 from the Keeneland September Yearling Sale in 2014 where he was consigned by Hunter Valley Farm. He is out of the Giant’s Causeway broodmare Julia Tuttle whose dam Candy Cane (Arg.) is a full sister to multiple champions producing sire Candy Ride (Arg.).
While Tom’s d’Etat could possibly take his show on the road to Florida, G M B Racing’s graded stakes winner Lone Sailor arrived at trainer Tom Amoss’ barn from a little holiday vacation in Florida, where he was getting some rest and relaxation at GoldMark Farm in Ocala. The current goal for the Grade III Oklahoma Derby winner is the Grade II $400,000 New Orleans Handicap on March 23.
“We’re going to get him back into training and get him through the month of January,” Bensel said. “I don’t know if there’s anything Tom sees in mid-February that would set up timing wise. At the end of the day the New Orleans Handicap is definitely the main goal.”
Placed four times this year against graded stakes company, Lone Sailor was a participant in the first two legs of the Triple Crown having finished a respective eighth and fifth in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve and Preakness Stakes (both Grade I) behind Justify.
Lone Sailor was bred in Kentucky by Alexander-Groves-Matz and was purchased for $120,000 from Gainesway’s consignment operation at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale in 2016. He by Majestic Warrior and out of the Mr. Greeley broodmare Ambitious, whose dam Aldiza was a Grade I winner.
REGARDLESS OF WEATHER CONDITIONS, SCHERER IS READY TO ROLL FOR SATURDAY STAKES
Rain or shine, turf or dirt, when it comes to Saturday’s track condition, trainer Gary Scherer is just fine either way.
Stakes entries Twoko Baby (Woodchopper) and Remember Daisy (Pago Hop) are slated to perform on the Stall-Wilson Turf Course, but if Mother Nature fails to cooperate and the races are forced to the main track, the connections remain confident in their chances to run well.
A two-time stakes winner already this Fair Grounds meet, Al and Bill Ulwelling’s Remember Daisy has also won two stakes over a sloppy main track which took place in the last out Louisiana Champions Day Ladies Stakes which she won by eight lengths. In February, she won the Louisiana-Bred Premier Night Starlet Stakes at Delta Downs which also was contested over a sloppy going.
“I’m sure coming off the turf could give her a better chance but obviously she’ll run both ways,” Scherer said. “We’ll see how it sets up and see who scratches.”
The Pago Hop Stakes will be the 3-year-old daughter of Misremembered’s first stakes start against open company. She is a four-time stakes winner against follow Louisiana-breds. Jockey Mitchell Murrill will ride Remember Daisy who breaks from post 11 at 9-2 morning line odds.
Like his stable mate, Winchester Place Thoroughbreds’ Twoko Bay also has winning experience over both surfaces. The Minnesota-bred 3-year-old son of Neko Bay broke his maiden at first asking over a sloppy going at Canterbury Park. Three starts later, Twoko Bay defeated state-breds once more over the turf at the Shakopee oval.
Last time out however, he was a troubled fifth over the Stall-Wilson Turf Course when facing open company for the first time.
“All systems are go for him,” Scherer said. “He’s ready to run a big race. He’s another one that will run either way. He’s been training well. The first race he ran here off the layoff wasn’t as bad as it looked. It looks like he ran fifth by seven (lengths) but he got trapped on the rail, had to wait and then move out to the four path before he could really start running.”
Twoko Bay will be guided by jockey Jose Valdivia, Jr. and will break from the seven hole at 20-1 odds.
The Woodchopper Stakes (Race 7) field: Noble Commander (post one, 5-1, Jerome Lermyte), McFeely (post two, 12-1, Jack Gilligan), Morning Stride (post three, 8-1, James Graham), Lusitano (post four, 8-1, Florent Geroux), Zero Gravity (post five, 6-1, Ty Kennedy), Marzo (post six, 8-1, Shaun Bridgmohan), G’s Turn (post eight, 15-1, Mitchell Murrill), Dubby Dubbie (post nine, 4-1, Colby Hernandez), Ballard High (post ten, 12-1, Corey Lanerie), Reride (post 11, 6-1, Ricardo Santana, Jr.), Stolen Pistol (post 12, 8-1, Adam Beschizza), Call West (post 13, 12-1, Joe Rocco, Jr.).
The Pago Hop Stakes (Race 9) field: Santino (post one, 15-1, Ty Kennedy), Kabella (post two, 6-1, Shaun Bridgmohan), Don’t Tell Marge (post three, 15-1, James Graham), Pretty Lady (post four, 12-1 Joe Rocco, Jr.), Beach Waltz (post five, 201-, Corey Lanerie), Hint of Mint (post six, 15-1, Channing Hill), Roussalka (post seven, 15-1, Aubrie Green), Memorial Drive (post eight, 12-1, Ricardo Santana, Jr.), Queen of Connaught (post nine, 15-1, Colby Hernandez), Holly Go Lightly (post ten, 12-1, Gabriel Saez), She’s All Skeet (post 12, 8-1, Adam Beschizza), Starving Artist (post 13, 15-1, Miguel Mena), Cool Beans (post 14, 7-2, Florent Geroux).
MIDNIGHT FANTASY HEAVILY FAVORED IN FILLIES DIVISION OF LOUISIANA FUTURITY
In only two career starts, Midnight Fantasy has made a good impression on her connections. Such impressions can continue with a victory in Saturday’s fillies division of the Louisiana Futurity.
Owned by Carl R. Moore Management and trained by Joe Sharp, the 2-year-old daughter of Midnight Lute won her two career starts by a combined 12¾ lengths, both of which took place over the Fair Grounds main track under jockey Adam Beschizza. Her last start was a victory over a sloppy main track in the Louisiana Champions Day Lassie Stakes.
“She’s doing great,” Sharp said. “Obviously she showed last time that she can handle the off track and we’re expecting similar conditions tomorrow with the forecast. We just have to hope for some good racing luck and her abilities should be able to carry her the rest of the way there.”
Midnight Fantasy will break from the four hole as the 3-5 morning line favorite. She was purchased for $77,000 from this year’s Equine Sales of Louisiana 2-Year-Old and Horses of Racing Age Sale where she was consigned by Pike Racing.
Its Misty In Paris (post one, 12-1, Mitchell Murrill), Raising the Ante (post two, 20-1, Gabriel Saez), Miss Bitters (post three, 6-1, Colby Hernandez), Scat At Ms. Pat’s (post five, 8-1, Miguel Mena), Goodprofit (post seven, 7-2, Corey Lanerie) and Cohenscollegefund (post seven, 15-1, James Graham).