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HIERONYMUS & BODECREAM RENEW AQUAINTANCES IN SATURDAY’S BLACK GOLD
Ninety One Assault eyes third straight turf score in Dixie Poker Ace
New Orleans (February 27, 2020) – On December 28 at Fair Grounds, a pair of longshots finished one-two in what appeared a to be a harmless first-level turf allowance route as 12-1 shot Hieronymus held off 33-1 bomber Bodecream. Because of the tough to predict result, the quality of the field was immediately questioned, but both horses provided an unexpected answer their subsequent start, dominating stakes company. On Saturday at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, that duo will renew acquaintances in the $75,000 Black Gold Stakes, restricted to 3-year-olds at about 1 1/16 miles on grass.
A maiden winner at first asking over the Ellis Park lawn on August 11, Hieronymus would not be seen again for more than three months. In that first-level allowance race over a yielding Churchill turf on November 21, he showed speed to the top of the stretch and then faded to finish eighth of ten.
“He came down with a two-year-old bug after the maiden win,” Cox explained. “He got over it, but he went awhile without a work. He came back a little blah but he was sound and we needed to run to find out where we were with him. He ran a dismal race at Churchill but the course was pretty soft that day, like it always in the fall.”
Vanned down to New Orleans shortly thereafter, the son of Girolamo got back to work.
“His first breeze back at Fair Grounds was just OK, but then he kind of turned it on,” Cox said. “We started to see the Hieronymus that we saw in the summer and he ran like it.”
On the lead from the word go for jockey Shaun Bridgmohan, Hieronymus thwarted the challenge of Blackberry Wine and then held off the late bid of Bodecream to score a ½ length win over that foe.
“He surprised us a little bit (that day), but we’ve liked him from the start,” Cox said.
In the Randy P Memorial Stakes (formerly the Captain Maestri), Hieronymus took command early and lengthened his advantage all the way through the finish line, dominating the by 9 ¾ lengths. Brian Hernandez, Jr. stood in for an injured Bridgmohan that day.
“His two works since (the Romero) were very, very good,” Cox said. “I expect him to run extremely well (on Saturday). I’ve looked for every reason to not run him back in four weeks and he hasn’t given me one. I feel confident that he will put in a big effort.”
Should he perform up to expectations on Saturday, would Cox consider upcoming graded 3-year-old turf stakes such as the $150,000 Transylvania (G3) at Keeneland (April 3) and the $500,000 American Turf (G2) at Churchill Downs (May 2) for Hieronymus?
“Absolutely,” Cox quipped. “If he is effective on Saturday, does it the right way and his (speed) figures look good, then I those are races to look forward to once we ship North.”
With Bridgmohan back aboard, Mike Diliberto’s 7-5 morning line favorite Hieronymus will break from post five of six.
The 5-2 second choice on the morning line is Red Lane Thoroughbred LLC’s Bodecream. No better than fourth in three dirt starts to begin his career, the son of Bodemeister has posted two wins and a second since moving over to turf.
Following his narrow allowance defeat to Hieronymus, the Danny Pish charge stormed home with Deshawn Parker aboard to win the $200,000 Texas Turf Mile by 3 ½ lengths at an overlay price of 9-1.
Parker, who was recently named the “Jockey of the Week” by the Guild for sweeping all four stakes this past Saturday night at Sam Houston, will be back aboard Bodecream in the Black Gold (post four).
Completing the field for the Black Gold (with post, jockey/trainer and morning line odds) are: Bobby Dupre’s Jersey Cat Tale (post one, Graham/Deville at 15-1), FAS Racing’s Mishko (post two, G. Saez/Sharp at 6-1 ML), Anstu Stables Inc’s Kinenos (post three, C. Hernandez/Cox at 6-1) and Godolphin LLC’s Pixelate (post six, Murrill/Stidham at 4-1). The Black Gold is race three on a ten-race card (1:28 p.m CT).
The supporting feature on Saturday’s Fair Grounds program is the $60,000 Dixie Poker Ace for older Louisiana-breds at about one mile one turf. Thomas Morley and Paul Braverman’s Ninety One Assault, the 3-1 morning line favorite in the field of 11, eyes his third consecutive win and the seventh in his 31-race career.
Winless from his first 12 starts while competing in California, Florida and New York, the now seven-year-old gelded son of Artie Schiller finally broke through against maiden special weight foes at Belmont in October 2017.
“After that race I got a call from Brad Weisbord who said there was a Louisiana-bred that Bill Mott-trained that the owners wanted to move on from,” Morley recalled. “He’d be running very competitively in New York. The horse was for sale for what seemed like a reasonable amount of money. I went over and saw him and he just looked like my type of horse. A big tall horse, lovely angles. We went ahead and purchased him.”
Whatever the cost, it was money well spent. Since that time Ninety One Assault has won five races, including his last two – the restricted Louisiana Turf Stakes on Champions Day and a restricted, third-level optional claiming allowance. One could argue he’s in the best form of his career.
“If not better,” Morley quipped. All the numbers (speed figures) suggest that he is probably having the best winter of his life so far. A lot of Artie Schiller horses take a bit of time to really hit their peak. Shaun (jockey Bridgmohan) pleaded with me to ride him and he was the one who realized that the horse needed to be covered up for as long as possible. As soon as he sees daylight he wants to go.”
From the extreme outside post in the field of 11, that may not prove to be an easy task.
“He won from the ten-post last time out,” Morley said. “The key is going to be getting over into the first turn, not getting hung wide and getting some cover. I thought Sophie (Doyle) did a super job of doing just that with him last time out. There is pace in the race. Shaun knows exactly what we have to do.”
A six-time winner with half of those victories coming in Louisiana-bred stakes, Corinne and William Heiligbrodt’s Shang will be making his first career turf start in his 12th lifetime go in the Dixie Poker Ace. Third (placed second) in the $250,000 Iowa Derby against open foes last July at Prairie Meadows, he wasn’t seen again for more than six months. He resurfaced with a dominating route win in the Fair Grounds slop, but then faded to finish a tired fifth as the 2-5 favorite in the Premier Night Championship at Delta last time out. Brian Hernandez Jr. has been named to ride this 9-2 shot for trainer Steve Asmussen (post four).
Completing the field for the Dixie Poker Ace (with post, jockey/trainer and morning line odds) are: Raise the B A R Racing LLC’s Remembermis (post one, Graham/Amoss at 10-1), second last out in the Louisiana Turf, Courtney Barousse’s Theoryintopractice (post two, G. Saez/Asmussen at 10-1), Robert Asaro and Geg Tramontin’s Make Me Smile (post three, Murrill/Bourgeois), Kendel D. Stanlee’s In the Navy (post five, Beschizza/Gelner at 5-1), Gerard Perron’s Grand Luwegee (post six, Sutherland/Perron at 20-1 morning line), Windylea Farm’s LLC Payday Too (post seven, Parker/Pish at 20-1 ML), Ellen Addison’s Jus Lively (post eight, Mena/Asmussen at 6-1 morning line), Jason S. Guidry and Karl Broberg’s Budro Talking (post nine, C. Hernandez/Broberg at 8-1) and Snake Racing LLC’s Treys Midnight Moon (post ten, Albardo/Richards at 8-1). The Dixie Poker Ace is race nine on a ten-race card (4:22 p.m CT).
About Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots: Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, one of the nation’s oldest racetracks, has been in operation since 1872. Located in New Orleans, LA, Fair Grounds is owned by Churchill Downs Incorporated (NASDAQ Global
Select Market: CHDN); it also operates a slot-machine gaming facility and 13 off-track betting parlors throughout southeast Louisiana. The 148th Thoroughbred Racing Season – highlighted by the 107 th running of the Louisiana Derby – will run from November 28, 2019 through March 29, 2020. More information can be found online at www.FairGroundsRaceCourse.com.
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