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Barn Notes: Wednesday, November 27



Veteran trainer Neil Pessin might have a lot to be thankful for at the conclusion of this extended holiday weekend in New Orleans.

Following Thursday’s traditional Thanksgiving Day program at Fair Grounds Racecourse & Slots, the 54-year-old native of Lexington, Kentucky, is set to saddle Lothenbach Stables’ Eden Prairie in Friday’s 28th running of the $75,000 Pago Hop for 3-year-old fillies at about one mile over the Stall-Wilson turf course and come right back Saturday with Hill ‘N Dale Farm’s General Election in the 27th renewal of the $75,000 Woodchopper for sophomores over the local lawn at that same distance.

Both Eden Prairie and General Election are sure to be well regarded in the wagering when they go to the post in their respective assignments.

Eden Prairie was second by a neck in Keeneland’s Grade II Raven Run over Polytrack in her last start Oct. 19 but before that proved three lengths the best Sept. 21 in a $40,000 allowance optional claiming event a Arlington that served in preparation for that stakes.

“She probably should have won that (Raven Run),” Pessin said Wednesday morning during training hours.  “She saw one horse on her inside coming at her but she didn’t see the winner coming at her on the outside.  I think if she’d have seen the horse on the outside she could have dug again and wouldn’t have got beat.”

Before those two races, Eden Prairie finished fifth in Chicago’s $75,000 Hatoof Stakes over the turf on Arlington Million Day Aug.17 but was only beaten three-quarters of a length for the win.

“She’s very versatile, she can go short or long and runs well over Polytrack or turf,” said Pessin of Eden Prairie.  “We’ll probably find out how she likes dirt sometime this winter.  Her best race is probably at seven-eighths on the Poly, but (the Pago Hop) is the last stakes race of the winter here for straight 3-year-old fillies and we might as well take advantage of it.”

Pessin worked General Election five furlongs last Saturday in 1:02.80 and seemed pleased with the move by the colt who got up to win Churchill’s Grade III Jefferson Cup by a neck in his last trip to post on Sept. 28 over the Louisville lawn.

“In that work the other day I thought (General Election) went very well,” Pessin said.  “He started slow but picked it up along the way and finished very strong.  That’s the way he runs in his races so we let him do it like that.  We don’t want to change his style if that’s the way he likes to run.

“We’ll probably stick to the grass with him,” said Pessin of the colt who also won the Grade III Arlington Classic last May 26.  “He’s run on dirt, he trains well over it and in fact he finished second to (GoldMark Farm and Whisper Hill Farm’s) Mylute here last season(who is known for finishing second in the Grade II Louisiana Derby, fifth in the Kentucky Derby and third in the Preakness last spring).

“However, Mylute beat him by more than 10 lengths here,” said Pessin, “so I think we’ll stick to the turf with General Election for now.

“Of course Eden Prairie has speed and General Election likes to come from out of it, so we’ll have to see how the turf course plays on both days.”  Pessin said, and then added with a touch of humor, “With my luck it will favor closers on Friday and speed horses Saturday.”


STIDHAM UPDATES ON LOVE BLIND AND BROWN ALMIGHTY —Trainer Mike Stidham entered the Argentine-bred Love Blind, owned by John Fulton, in Friday’s Pago Hop, but Love Blind has only made two starts in her career and both were in her native land.

“We got Love Blind during the summer,” Stidham said, “but she needed some time to get acclimated here.  She’s training well for us lately but she may not be ready (for the Pago Hop) just yet.  We might have to scratch.”

Stidham also nominated Tri-Star Racing’s Brown Almighty –highly-regarded during the fall of his juvenile season but new to Stidham’s barn – for Saturday’s Woodchopper.

“I’ll probably enter Brown Almighty in the Woodchopper but then cross-enter him in an allowance race that same day,” Stidham said Wednesday morning.  “We’ll decide on which race we want to go in as Saturday gets closer.”