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Barn Notes: Friday, January 3

IN TODAY'S NOTES: Same Cross Staying in Pan Zareta; Seeking Ms Shelley Seeking $75,000 Pan Zareta Upset Saturday; Jockey, Trainer Standings Tighten Up Again

Brereton C. Jones'  Same Cross, being by Proud Clarion out of a Langfuhr mare, was so named because she is out of the “same cross” that resulted in Proud Spell, the 2008 Grade II Fair Grounds Oaks winner who went on to victory in the Grade I Kentucky Oaks later that spring.

Like her predecessor, Same Cross is much better on the main track than the grass, and although Saturday’s 49th running of the 5 ½-furlong $75,000 Pan Zareta is scheduled for about that distance over the Stall-Wilson turf course, there is an excellent chance given recent weather in the Crescent City that the race will be transferred to the main track.

Trainer Larry Jones had indicated earlier that if the turf course was to be firm Saturday, he might keep Same Cross in the Pan Zareta, but otherwise his 5-year-old mare would be scratched.  Friday morning Jones was asked about the suddenly cold local weather in New Orleans with the projected colder local weather to come later this weekend. 

Would Same Cross stay in Saturday’s feature if the turf course should be listed as frozen?

“No, because when a grass course first freezes it fuses the surface a little, but when it thaws out it gets really soft and that’s when it’s no good at all,” Jones said.  “First of all, I think there’s no way that they can keep that race on the turf, and second, I think it becomes a much better race on the dirt, anyway. 

“This should be a really good race,” Jones said.  “(Bertram and Richard Klein’s) Good Deed has been a really good filly for Steve Margolis going either way – grass or dirt,” Jones said.

What about (Dream Walkin Farm’s) Seeking Ms Shelley?

“Oh, yes – my goodness, yes – what about her?” Jones said.  “She can really run, too,” speaking of trainer Joe Duhon’s mare.  “She’s by Cactus Ridge so I don’t think she would have any trouble handling either surface – grass or dirt.”

SEEKING MS SHELLEY SEEKING $75,000 PAN ZARETA UPSET SATURDAY —Dream Walkin’ Farms is the nom-de-course of singer Toby Keith.  Would the Oklahoma-born country and western star who has his mare Seeking Ms Shelley in Saturday’s $75,000 Pan Zareta at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots stay in town to watch Seeking Ms Shelley run, now that he’s probably singing I’m So Happy I Can’t Stop Crying given the results of Thursday’s Sugar Bowl?

“I really don’t know,” said Seeking Ms Shelley’s trainer Joe Duhon Friday morning during training hours.“Toby texted me that he came to town to go to the Sugar Bowl yesterday but I don’t really know if he’s staying around or not.  I certainly hope he does.  I think he named Seeking Ms Shelley after one of his daughters.”

What about Seeking Ms Shelley, is she singing AsGood As I Once Was to herself lately, having won her last two starts at Remington – one on grass, one on dirt?

“I know this filly real good,” said Duhon.  “I wish I had her maybe a little tighter than she is right now,” speaking of the Oklahoma-bred mare who has not run since Sept. 28.  “I know that she’s doing super right now, but she’s always had a little more trouble handling this track than anywhere else.”

In 2010 Seeking Ms. Shelley ran eighth in the Pan Zareta when it was run over the local lawn, and last year finished fifth when it was taken off the turf and run on the main track.  Which surface would he prefer for Seeking Ms Shelley on Saturday? 

“The turf course here is really much better this year than it was last year,” said Duhon, “but if it stays on the grass, I hope the course is as good as it has been so far.  Last year, when my filly came back (after the Pan Zareta), her rider told me she could have won if I’d have let him ride her the way he wanted to ride her.  This time I’ve got the rider who won on her those last two starts (jockey Roman Chapa), so this time with that same rider I think she might be very tough.”

JOCKEY, TRAINER STANDINGS TIGHTEN UP AGAIN—Jockey James Graham had pulled abreast of three-time Fair Grounds defending jockey champion Rosie Napravnik entering Friday’s races at the local oval with 38 wins apiece. 

With a riding triple on New Year’s Day, jockey Richard Eramia had hit the 30-win milestone and was solidly in third position, and following a five-win day last week jockey Leandro Goncalves leapfrogged into the fourth spot with 18 wins. Jockey Kerwin Clark assumed the fifth spot with 14 wins, one more than the since-departed David Flores.

Defending trainer champion Steve Asmussen led the trainer standings with 15 wins entering Friday’s races, while co-defending trainer champion Tom Amoss was tied with conditioner Bret Calhoun for the runner-up spot with 14 wins.