By Ryan Martin

  • Amoss Hopes To Score First Louisiana Derby Triumph With Roiland
  • Silver Dust a Testament to Calhoun’s Effective Horsemanship
  • Kimmel Believes Mr. Buff Deserves a Shot Against Graded Stakes Company
  • Sisterson Opts for New Orleans Handicap With Bandua
  • Inspector Lynley Seeks Fourth Graded Stakes Triumph in Muniz Memorial
  • Tough Love Impresses Sharp in Career Debut



New Orleans native trainer Tom Amoss has won 50 graded stakes events in over three decades of conditioning Thoroughbreds and while he has come close numerous times, he is still yet to secure a victory in his home track’s premier race – the Grade II $1 million Louisiana Derby. He hopes that the wait comes to an end this year when he sends out Roiland for the final local prep on the Road To The Kentucky Derby.

In four of the past six runnings of the Louisiana Derby, Amoss has never finished worse than fourth, which include two runner-up finishes with eventual Kentucky Derby contenders Mylute in 2013 and Lone Sailor, who was beaten by a neck last year. He is ready to finally cross it off the list after having come so close to tasting success in the event.

“It’s been so elusive,” Amoss said. “I’ve been the favorite in it (with eventual fourth-place finisher Mo Tom in 2016) and I’ve been beaten right on the wire twice. I’m not sure how I’d react but I can tell you to do it in my hometown with my family would certainly be something that I would love to see happen.”

Owned by James and Mary Durlacher, Roiland breaks from the rail in the field of 11 sophomores and has already secured 10 qualifying points towards the Grade I $3 million Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve when running third at 69-1 in the Grade II Risen Star Stakes Presented by Lamarque Ford on February 16. Amoss had spoken some high volumes of the son of Successful Appeal all meet long, but acknowledges that the horse needs a significant amount of pace to make an effective run.

“I don’t mind getting the rail,” Amoss said. “I’m disappointed there’s not more pace particularly when there’s more pace in other preps, but you play the hand you’re dealt so it’s important to position him a little closer earlier. I don’t envision him being in a different zip code which is where we were last time.”

While he still has not quite reached his first Louisiana Derby win, Amoss was able to secure his first victory in another prestigious Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots event when Chocolate Martini sprung a 13-1 upset in last year’s Grade II Fair Grounds Oaks. This year, he has the 6-5 morning line favorite Serengeti Empress who enters off of a stellar victory in the Grade II Rachel Alexandra Stakes, where she was geared down by jockey James Graham in the final eighth of a mile.

Unlike Roiland who will likely make his move in the race’s late stages, Serengeti Empress has displayed front running style in her three stakes victories.

“There’s no secret about our game plan, were going to the front,” Amoss said. “If someone want sot make the lead, they’re going to have to pass us to do it. With her, she’s doing all the things that she has done leading into her bigger races and we’re confident she’s going to run her race on Saturday.”

A Joel Politi-owned daughter of Alternation, Serengeti Empress currently sits atop the Kentucky Oaks leaderboard with 60 points. Two starts prior to her Rachel Alexandra win where she garnered 50 points, she showcased a highly impressive victory in Churchill Downs’ Grade II Pocahontas Stakes, which was worth 10 points to the winner.



There have been some doubtful and frustrating moments along the way, but Silver Dust has been a beneficial work in progress for trainer Bret Calhoun and he’ll look to reward his conditioner’s patience and hard work even more in Saturday’s Grade II $400,000 New Orleans Handicap at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots.

When the 5-year-old son of Tapit arrived at Calhoun’s barn at the beginning of last year, he was only a maiden winner that was winless in five starts against stakes company. Heading into Saturday’s race, he has won three of his last four starts including a last out triumph in the Grade III Mineshaft Handicap where he defeated stakes winners Harlan Punch, Flameaway and Lone Sailor.

“There were a lot of doubts,” Calhoun said. “He’s still a hard horse to trust. We know that he has plenty of talent. Getting him in form on race day has bit of a bit of a challenge but he’s been very consistent these last four races. I hope that’s a good sign and that he’s going to stay good. I think in the last few races, he’s shows consistency. He seemed to have worked through his antics in the paddock. He still seems to pull some stunts in the gate. He’s a smart horse and he knows the difference between schooling the mornings in the afternoon and on race day.”

Silver Dust has improved in many different departments, but Calhoun has especially been pleased with his mental maturity as well as the pattern of consistency that he has developed in his last few starts.

“The talent has been there for a long time,” Calhoun said. “He shows things in the morning that make you think he’s a real good horse and then you lead him over there and wouldn’t show up. His consistency and mental maturity have resulted in him winning a Grade III. These are deeper water than he’s been in last time. It’s a bit of a progression, but if he can get through this hurdle we’ll look at some more stuff at Keeneland and Churchill.”

Bred in Kentucky by Don Alberto Corporation, Silver Dust was purchased for $510,000 by owner Tom Durant from the Ocala Breeders’ Sales Company’s March Sale of Two-Year-Olds In Training, where he was consigned by DeMeric Sales. He is out of the stakes-winning Hard Spun broodmare Filare l’Oro and is from the same family as multiple graded stakes winner Gouldings Green and multiple Grade I winner Cross Traffic – last year’s leading first crop sire.



In a total of 26 career starts, Mr. Buff has not raced outside of his home state of New York. That will all change when he makes his graded stakes debut in Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots’ Grade II $400,000 New Orleans Handicap.

Owned by Chester and Mary Broman, the 5-year-old son of Friend or Foe has gone to the lead in all four of his starts and never looked back winning them all in wire-to-wire fashion. Said quartet of outings all took place at Aqueduct, the last two of which were against stakes company. A winner of the Alex Robb two starts back against fellow natives of the Empire State, he won the open company Jazil Stakes by 5¼ lengths over graded stakes winner Sunny Ridge.

With the presence of five graded stakes winners in the New Orleans Handicap field, the water will be much deeper for Mr. Buff, but Kimmel believes that his horse deserves a chance to prove himself against a higher caliber.

“He’s kind of earned the right to go in this spot,” Kimmel said. “He’s won five consecutive at a-mile-and-and-eighth around two turns. His numbers look very comparable to the horses who are in the race and there has been some attrition in the handicap division with some horses going to Dubai and some other ones retiring. I think it’s an opportune time to step out of our locale and test some deeper waters. I think he’s up to the challenge. He looks great, he’s training great. He’s got tactical speed. I think he’s going to run very well.”

All four of Mr. Buff’s recent triumphs have taken place over two turns, which Kimmel believes has moved the horse up.

“That has really been helpful for him,” Kimmel said. “It allows him to get his lead changes down properly. The one turn races in New York have been like been like long sprint races where they get to going a little faster. He’s able to use his big stride and size to his advantage when he’s running two turns and I think that has been a real help for him. He’s had stakes wins and beat open company. But this is a chance to run for big money. It’s not easy to get there but he’s handled the trip and he’s a good-minded horse. I think he’s going to give us a good representation.”

Jockey Junior Alvarado was aboard Mr. Buff for his most recent victory and will ship from New York to pilot the horse in the New Orleans Handicap. He will break from the eight hole at 6-1 morning line odds.




The occupation of conditioning Thoroughbreds never comes without having to make tough decisions and trainer Jack Sisterson has to do just that with Grade I-placed Bandua who is cross entered in Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots’ Grade II $400,000 New Orleans Handicap on the main track and the Grade II $300,000 Muniz Memorial Handicap over the Stall-Wilson Turf Course. After pondering the decision with the connections all week Sisterson is opting for the former of the two races.

Owned by Calumet Farm, Bandua was second in the Grade III Fair Grounds Handicap behind Synchrony last time out, where he was 35-1. He started his career in Ireland for former trainer Dermot Weld where he recorded four starts and ran third in Arlington International Racecourse’s Grade I Secretariat Stakes at 39-1. The New Orleans Handicap will be his first start on dirt, however Sisterson believes the horse will handle the main track just fine.

“He’s trained very well on the dirt and he’s been stabled at Fair Grounds for the winter,” Sisterson said. “His breeze two back was very good. We put him in behind a horse and he showed speed and a turn of foot over the dirt that suggested surface isn’t an issue. As a barn, and Calumet, we are all anxious to see what he can do racing over the dirt. If he’s ever going to run well on it, it will be here at Fair Grounds. It wouldn’t make sense trying him on a dirt surface for the first time that he’s never trained on.”

A son of The Factor, Bandua was bred in Kentucky by Judy Nicks and Kathryn Nikkel and was purchased was a weanling from the Keeneland November Sale in 2015 where he was consigned by Gainesway. He is out of the Seattle Slew broodmare If Angles Sang who also produced turf stakes winner Tale of a Champion.





Stuart Janney III and Phipps Stables’ Inspector Lynley will seek his fourth graded stakes victory when he takes on a salty bunch in Saturday’s Grade II $300,000 Muniz Memorial Handicap over Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots’ Stall-Wilson Turf Course.

The 6-year-old son of Lemon Drop Kid won the Grade III Tampa Bay Stakes for the second consecutive year in his most recent effort, where he finished a neck ahead of fellow Muniz Memorial aspirant Divisidero. Trained by Hall of Famer Shug McGaughey, he has never finished worse than fourth in his last eight starts, five of which took place in graded stakes races.

“One of things about running here is that it’s going a mile-and-an-eighth,” McGaughey said.  “The race came up at a good time. (Jockey) Jose (Ortiz) was going to be there. The race at Keeneland is only a mile and the (Grade I $1 million Old Forester Turf Classic at Churchill Downs) is another six weeks away and if we run well here, we’ll run back. Basically, it just came up the right distance the right time. We do like him a lot. To win that race with the kind of field it is would be nice. Bricks and Mortar is a nice horse and Stidham’s horse (Synchrony) is obviously very consistent. It would be a big feather in his cap if it were to win.”

The Muniz Memorial awards the winner an automatic entry fees paid berth into both the Old Forester Turf Classic and the Grade I $1 million Arlington Million at Arlington International Racecourse on August 10.

Named after the title character of the British crime drama The Inspector Lynley Mysteries, the winner of five career starts is out of the four-time Grade III winning Maria’s Mon broodmare Criminologist who also was owned by Janney and Phipps and conditioned by McGaughey.

“I think they have some similarities,” McGaughey said. “Obviously they’re both turf horses and they set themselves up well in their races. He’s a strong finisher and that’s the way she was as well. In most respects they are a lot the same.”

In addition to back-to-back wins in the Tampa Bay Stakes, Inspector Lynley won the Grade III Saranac Stakes at Saratoga as a 3-year-old. He has banked a total of $632,299 in earnings.




Trainer Joe Sharp was pleased with recent first out maiden winner Tough Love, who scored a first out maiden special weight victory by three legnths under a hand ride by Gabriel Saez.

Sharp stated that the Gary and Mary West-owned son of Bernardini would likely face winners at Keeneland Race Course next out but would consider a start in the Grade II $400,000 Pat Day Mile at Churchill Downs depending on how he runs next out.

“He’s a really nice horse,” Sharp said “Since the day he walked in our barn he’s been fast. We thought a lot of him and the horse that ran second we think a lot of as well. We’re looking forward to stretching that one out, but Tough Love is going up to Keeneland. Obviously he has the pedigree to stretch out but as fast as he is I don’t think we’ll get too deep too quick with him. He’ll probably face winners and then see what happens when we get to Churchill. If he faces winners at Keeneland and does well that might be something we’ll look at.”

Tough Love is out of the Street Cry (Ire.) broodmare Home of the Blues who is a half-sister to three-time Grade I winner and 2009 Champion Older Female Sprinter Informed Decision. He was purchased for $60,000 from the Keeneland September Yearling Sale in 2017 by bloodstock agent Ben Glass from the consignment barn of Lanes’ End.