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Stakes Advance: Bonapaw Stakes

 

The $60,000 Bonapaw Stakes at Fair Grounds drew a deep and competitive field of eight seasoned sprinters, including five stakes winners (three graded) of a collective 29 stakes, led by 10-time added-money earner and recent runaway $60,000 Thanksgiving Handicap winner Delaunay. The Bonapaw is contested over 5½ furlongs over the Stall-Wilson turf course. 

Fresh off his seven-length turkey day tirade, Maggi Moss’ soon-to-be 8-year-old Delaunay looks to do one of the few things he has yet to accomplish – win a stakes on the grass.  His last attempt came in April of 2012 when third to Ben’s Cat – considered by many to still be one of the best turf sprinters in the country – in the $75,000 Mister Diz Stakes at Pimlico. Still, Delaunay has been worse than third only once in five grass starts and is the expected favorite.  James Graham once again has the ride for trainer Tom Amoss and will break from post five.     

As quick as the imposing Delaunay is out of the gate, few are faster than Rowell Enterprises’ Karl Broberg-trained Heitai.  Two-for-two in turf sprints, the son of Fusaichi Pegasus returns to the trip at which his conditioner believes he is one of the best in the country in the Bonapaw and does so under a new rider, Colby Hernandez.  Coming off two consecutive main track losses to Too Dim at six furlongs, Heitai will try to get back to the form which saw him wallop a quality field in the $300,000 Evangeline Turf Sprint in June.  The seven-time stakes-winning Louisiana-bred breaks from post six. 

Brittlyn Stable’s Gantry got back to his winning ways last out in a course and distance allowance on Dec. 11 after three consecutive dull races – including a fifth in the Thanksgiving – from the seven-time stakes winner.  Trained by Ron Faucheux, the son of Pulpit and half-brother to speedy Grade II winner Central Banker has won three of eight turf starts – including the $60,000 Colonel Power Stakes at the course and distance in March.  The 7-year-old dark bay charge breaks from post seven under Miguel Mena.

Mike McCarthy’s twice Grade I-placed Unbridled’s Note brings a great deal of back-class into the Bonapaw for trainer Steve Asmussen.  With every right to improve off a runner-up finish to Gantry in the aforementioned allowance, the three-time stakes-winning son of Unbridled’s Song looks to return to the form that saw him finish second and fourth in two editions of the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint.  Robby Albarado rides from the outside post eight.

The wild card in the field could be the Hugh Robertson-owned and –trained gelding Bet Seattle.  Unraced since a victory in the $100,000 West Virginia Chairman’s Cup on Aug. 2, the versatile 5-year-old son of Seattle Fitz has won an allowance or stakes on turf, dirt and synthetic surfaces for Robertson – including a victory in a soft-course renewal of the $50,000 Honor The Hero Stakes at Canterbury Park over five grassy furlongs in 2013.  Riding a four-race winning streak, the two-time stakes winner was last seen losing when he bore out on the turn in Gantry’s Colonel Power.  With regular rider Graham committed to Delaunay, journeyman Francisco Torres picks up the mount from the rail.

            Completing the field for the Bonapaw are Officer Griffin (Marcelino Pedroza, post two), Jasizzle (Willie Martinez, post three) and El Seventyseven (Forest Boyce, post four).