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Just Might Just Did…Dominate the Thanksgiving Classic
Winning the race for second, Greeley and Ben also impresses
New Orleans, LA (November 25, 2021) – The outside draw gave jockey Colby Hernandez options, but seeing Just Might’s effort in The 97th running of The Thanksgiving Classic, it didn’t seem to matter. There was no asking needed—only the powerful strides of a seven-time stakes winning alpha on display in the opening day feature at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots.
Bred and owned by Griffon Farms and trainer Michelle Lovell, this chestnut gelding broke with alacrity and charged to the lead. Scoring a impressive victory, Just Might proved himself against a quality field of formful horses.
On the lead from the jump, Hernandez twice looked over his shoulder to see if he needed to get into his horse—twice he saw no one threatening. He was along for the ride.
“He broke in front of the field,” Hernandez said, “and there wasn’t much left for me to do.”
It was as if two different races were running. With the 2 ½ length victory, Just Might ($8.20) won the right to have another go against stakes company on dirt. All six foes finished gamely within three lengths of each other for the place spot.
“I thought Colby did an excellent job getting him away from the gates and then he never moved on him.” Lovell said. “Colby just let him do his thing. He shook his reins at him late in the stretch and then wrapped back up. I thought it was a great ride by Colby and a great performance by my big horse. So exciting to watch him run!”
Greeley and Ben proved his mettle in the second flight. Passing Strike Power with a furlong to go, he then held off the hard charging closer Pyron at the wire. Due to a clocking malfunctions, no time was available. That makes fourteen exactas out of fifteen races in 2021 for Broberg’s seemingly ageless seven-year-old.
Necker Island, the 1.70-1 favorite, rated off the pace and then steadied into the turn losing two lengths and momentum. Finishing fourth, the connections certainly are wondering what if he had gotten Just Might in his sights.
With the win, Just Might now sports a career mark of 31-9-7-6 with a bankroll of $783,914. A fun celebration in the winner’s circle as the family of breeder and owner Dr. Robert Griffon had come to be a part of this win and the patriarch’s birthday.
“Michelle and Colby did a great job, Griffon said after the race. “We told him today to let him have his race, and he ran a good one today.”
Breeze Rider Carried Home By Connections’ Go-To Jockey E.T. Baird
Veteran mare wins wide-open secondary feature on Fair Grounds’ opening day card
In near wire-to-wire fashion in the inaugural running of Joseph Ray Peluso Memorial Stakes at Fair Ground Race Course & Slots, Mike Piazza Racing Stable’s Breeze Rider ($10.40) scored her 5th victory out of her 6 attempts at the 1 1/16 mile distance on turf. That makes twice with E.T. Baird up, a veteran rider who picks his spots and wins regularly. His speciality? Engaging and sustaining a horse’s most dangerous weapon: speed.
Anyone who has followed Chicago racing in recent years knows this much is true: ET Baird and Steve Manley don’t mess around. This year they have teamed up 24 times, winning 9 with an ROI of $4.01.
Posting fractions of 24.05, :49.20, 1:13.37, 1:37.33, 1:43.52, Breeze Rider led most of the way. Only the pace pressing Dominga put a head in front of the eventual winner on the turn for home, only to be turned away when Baird immediately asked more and put that foe to bed.
Michael Stidham’s talented stakes winning filly Alms (5.30-1) had the winner in her sights down the stretch but she drifted out and failed to offer an accelerating kick when it counted most, settling for second. .
In a competitive field, the betting public mostly got it right. Each of the five most fancied horses, ranging from odds of 3.10-1 and 5.40-1, finished in the top 6 in the field of 11. Only the late charging 12.70-1 third place finisher Bellagamba didn’t fit that odds profile.
In scoring her tenth career win and sixth this year, the 4-year-old daughter of Paynter hiked her career earnings to $290,308.
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, which is owned by Churchill Downs Incorporated (NASDAQ Global Select Market: CHDN), also operates a slot-machine gaming facility and 15 off-track betting parlors throughout Southeast Louisiana. The 150th Thoroughbred Racing Season – highlighted by the 109th running of the Louisiana Derby – will run from November 25, 2021 through March 27, 2022. More information is available online at www.fairgroundsracecourse.com.