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Wednesday Notes: String King to Test Big Boys in Col. Bradley


By Graham Ross, Staff Writer

NEW ORLEANS (Wednesday, January 23, 2013) – Owner-trainer-breeder Charlie Smith was his always-ebullient self when contacted at his Haughton, La., home base Wednesday morning, but he’ll be on the road to New Orleans early Saturday. That will put him in town well before it becomes time for him to saddle String King in the Grade III Col. E.R. Bradley Handicap over the Stall-Wilson Turf Course at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots later that day.

String King has won two straight stakes races over the local lawn, but they were against fellow Louisiana-breds and on Saturday he’ll be facing open company in the race that serves as the first of a three-race series of graded grass stakes to be contested at the Crescent City oval this season.

“I’m really looking forward to it,” said Smith of the prospect of running String King against open company. “I’ve been kind of dancing over the past performances of all the horses in the race and I don’t think we’re outclassed at all. The way I look at it, none of those others better stub their toe if they want to beat us.”

The Col. Bradley, originally scheduled to be run last weekend, was postponed one week to allow the turf course time to dry out from an inordinate amount of wet weather that had hit the area, but the delay did not affect Smith’s training plans.

“We’re all in the same boat (with the postponement),” Smith said. “I’ve talked it over with Kenny Hargrave and he says the horse is ready to go. Kenny is a good horseman, and he’s been getting on him in the mornings at Fair Grounds. I have complete confidence in him.

“The only thing that bothers me about Saturday is that we drew the rail, and the rail is not a very good post to have on the turf course at Fair Grounds,” Smith said. “However, I’ve got James Graham as my rider, and he’s a good enough jock to get him off the rail shortly after the start and get him out somewhere around the three-path. Ideally, I’d have liked my horse to have gotten the seven- or eight-hole, but that’s just horseracing.”

Three winners have come from the rail in the 31 races run over the turf at one mile or longer this season for what is actually a reasonable 9.7% clip. Of the first seven spots in the gate, it is post four (one win, 3.2%) and post five (eight wins, 25.8%) that are significantly out of proportion with the others.

DAISY DEVINE IN MONDAY TUNE-UP FOR SATURDAY’S MARIE KRANTZ MEMORIAL – James Miller’s Daisy Devine, who transferred her talents to the turf course in the fall of 2011 after winning the Grade II Fair Grounds Oaks on the main track here earlier that spring, is projected as the strong odds-on choice in Saturday’s $75,000 Marie G. Krantz Memorial Handicap for older fillies and mares at about 1 1/16-miles over the Stall-Wilson turf course.

Originally scheduled to be run last Saturday, the Marie Krantz was postponed a week in order to allow the local lawn to dry out from the excessive amount of inclement weather that had drenched South Louisiana mid-month.

Due to the postponement, Daisy Devine breezed a half-mile Monday in 50.20. The daughter of Kafwain won Fair Grounds’ $75,000 Blushing K.D. Handicap in her last start Dec. 22 and Churchill’s Grade III Cardinal Handicap Nov. 10.

“She’s been doing good,” said trainer Andy McKeever of Daisy Devine’s progress lately. “In fact, she’s been perfect.

“The postponement didn’t set us back at all,” McKeever said. “It was understandable that they did it and I’m sure it worked out better for everybody. It just meant we had a chance to get one more work into her.”

The Grade III Col. E.R. Bradley Handicap serves as the centerpiece of Saturday’s four-stakes card at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, and like the Marie Krantz Memorial, was put back one week to give the grass more time to dry out.

However, also to be run Saturday is the $75,000 F. W. Gaudin Memorial Stakes for older horses at six furlongs and the inaugural edition of the $75,000 Van Berg Stakes for 3-year-olds at about five and a half furlongs over the Stall-Wilson Turf Course.