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Barn Notes: Sunday, December 8



She’s already something of a rarity as an African-American female apprentice jockey born and raised in the non-racing state of Georgia.

However, on Saturday in the last race of the evening at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, 25-year-old Atlanta native Vanessa Fry distinguished herself further by riding the first winner of her fledgling career aboard a horse that paid a whopping $100for a $2 win wager.

“When I walked into the paddock I had no idea about what was about to happen,” said Fry on Sunday morning after training hours when speaking of her eye-opening debut astride Half Moon Stables’ H M Rising for trainer Theodore Arndt.  “I had never met the man (trainer) before he put me on the horse.  I guess he just decided to give me a chance.”

Naturally, Arndt and those who wagered on the young lady were handsomely rewarded, and even those in the crowd that did not were quick to get into the spirit of the occasion.”

“Hey, Vanessa, you’d better get yourself a rain coat real quick,” someone yelled enthusiastically in reference to her traditional seconds-away upcoming baptism with water and various other substances from her fellow riders in the Fair Grounds jockey colony.

When did she begin to think she had the race won?

“I knew it as soon as I got head-and-head with that last horse in front of me,” said Fry.  “I’m so competitive I knew it right then.  ‘I’m not going to give this away,’ I told myself.  ‘That’s just not going to happen.’”

How does a Georgia girl get exposed to horse racing?

“I went to school at Texas A & M,” said Fry, whose engagements are now being handled by Derek Ducoing, who also handles the book of three-time local jockey champion Rosie Napravnik. “While I was there I did an apprenticeship in Kentucky.  One day, as part of the program, they took us to Keeneland.  It was the first race track I ever saw.  As soon as I saw what was going on, I told myself, ‘This is what I want to do with my life.’”

How did she celebrate Saturday night?

“I just enjoyed a salad and went home to bed,” said the young miss who has the song ‘Don’t Worry, Be Happy’ on her answering machine.  “But when I woke up this morning I went and watched the replay just to make sure it was all true.  I just thank God that it did happen.”

TRAINER ANDY LEGGIO JR PREPARING FOR LOUISIANA CHAMPIONS DAY SATURDAY —New Orleans-born trainer Andy Leggio Jr. was fortunate enough have the greatest Louisiana-bred of all time in his barn when he conditioned Stewart Madison’s Happy Ticket, but Sunday morning during training hours he updated his plans for the Louisiana-breds he has now that were nominated to this Saturday’s Louisiana Champions Day at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots.

No decision has been made concerning Glen Warren’s Hud’s Rebellion, nominated to the Classic and the Turf, or Skip the Pinot, who he co-owns with Warren and is nominated to both those races plus the Sprint.

“I’m waiting to see what everybody else does before I decide which way I’m going with them,” Leggio said.  “I do plan to run (Warren’s) Joyce’s Rebel in the Sprint, and it’s possible I might run (James Boyd’s) Sudden Strike in the Juvenile even though it would be the first start of his career.”

HEAVY ON THEMISTER TO PASS UP LOUISIANA CHAMPIONS DAY CLASSIC—The good news is that 2012 Louisiana Champions Day Classic winner Heavy On Themister is back to his winning ways, having captured Saturday’s eighth race at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots by 2 ¼ lengths while drawing off in the late stages.

The bad news is that he won’t be able to defend his Classic score when Louisiana Champions Day comes around again for its 2013 renewal this Saturday, Dec. 14.

“We were getting him ready to bring him back when he hit his eye and developed a little eye issue,” said T. J. Dickey, co-owner of Heavy On Themister when speaking in the paddock just prior to his horse’s winning effort in his first outing since July.  “We just brought him back in this sprint here to get him ready for the next series of (restricted Louisiana-bred) races at Delta.”

Last season, Heavy On Themister followed his Louisiana Champions Day score at Fair Grounds with a 5 ½-length victory in the Premier Championship at Delta Downs.