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Barn Notes: Saturday, January 3

 

IN TODAY'S NOTES: ALBANO LIKELY FOR LOUISIANA HANDICAP; ANOTHER LEMON DROP SHARP IN WORK, POINTS TO LECOMTE; FOREST BOYCE HITS 500 WINS; LA TIA WORKS TOWARD 6-YEAR-OLD DEBUT; IRISH YOU WELL BACK ON TRACK


ALBANO LIKELY FOR LOUISIANA HANDICAP

            Brereton C. Jones’ Albano continues to work well in the mornings at Fair Grounds Race Course as he embarks toward his 4-year-old debut for trainer Larry Jones.  The son of Istan followed up a bullet five-panel move in 1:00 flat on Christmas Eve with a leisurely work at the same distance in 1:01.80 on New Year’s Eve for his connections. 

            “He seems like he’s doing well right now,” his trainer reported.  “We will most likely look at the (Listed $75,000 Louisiana Handicap) on the 17th with him.”

            Albano was last seen when third as the 7-5 favorite in the Grade III $300,000 Smarty Jones Stakes at Parx – an effort that necessitated time off for the bay homebred.  Previous to that, the best two efforts of his career came at Monmouth Park when winning the Grade III Pegasus Stakes by 6½ lengths and then finishing second behind Horse of the Year candidate Bayern, beating expected 3-year-old filly champion Untapable and multiple graded stakes winner Wildcat Red in the latter.  

            Locally, he has five starts including a maiden victory and a win in the $60,000 Sugar Bowl last December.  Those two wins were followed by a pair of seconds in the Grade III $200,000 Lecomte Stakes and Grade II $400,000 Risen Star Stakes.

            Albano’s half-brother Mark Valeski had a similar commencement to his 4-year-old season.  In 2013, the winner of the Grade II Peter Pan Stakes as a sophomore came off a considerable layoff to run in all three races of the local handicap division, accounting for a win in the Grade III Mineshaft and a pair of seconds in the Louisiana and New Orleans Handicaps.  Mark Valeski – like his brother – was also second in the Risen Star. 

ANOTHER LEMON DROP SHARP IN WORK, POINTS TO LECOMTE

            Runaway local allowance winner Another Lemon Drop continues to progress in the mornings as he prepares for his stakes debut for trainer Philip Bauer and owner Rigney Racing.  The son of Lemon Drop Kid exits a one-mile allowance victory in the slop at Fair Grounds Race Course on Dec. 19 in which he easily dismantled a field that included favored and highly regarded runner-up Distant Kingdom by five lengths under three-time Kentucky Derby winner Calvin Borel.  On Friday, he worked a strong five furlongs in :49 flat – good for fifth-best of 39 works at the distance. 

            “He looked good this morning and we’re pointing toward the (Grade III $200,000) Lecomte Stakes on the 17th,” Bauer said.  “We’ll give him one more work and are really happy with the way he’s progressing.  Calvin wants to stick with the horse and as long as he wants him, we’ll stick with him.  It’s nice to have someone on his back who believes in him.”

            The dark bay colt has consistently kept good company lines.  In his first start over the grass at Churchill Downs he finished fourth behind subsequent stakes colts Wayward Kitten and Majestico.  Wayward Kitten starts as one of the favorites in Saturday’s Grade III $100,000 Dania Beach Stakes at Gulfstream Park and Majestico was a solid fourth in the Grade III $250,000 Bourbon Stakes at Keeneland in October.

After breaking his maiden going nine furlongs on the grass next out at Keeneland, he ran into subsequent Grade I $500,000 Los Alamitos Futurity winner Dortmund when finishing third in his dirt debut in an allowance at Churchill Downs.  Said race was the first time the long-winded Another Lemon Drop had raced only one turn and he performed admirably to close from ninth to third, beaten 8¾ lengths.   Three weeks later, he returned to the winner’s circle with style locally.

“Age and distance are going to help the horse,” Bauer continued.  “He will run all day and may even be a better 4-year-old than 3-year-old if he keeps progressing.  The way he did (the work) today was nice.  We don’t ask too much from our horses in the morning.  He galloped out well and looked well within himself.”

JOCKEY FOREST BOYCE HITS 500 WINS

            Jockey Forest Boyce hit the first major win mark of her young riding career on Friday afternoon when piloting winner number 500.  Riding Columbine Stable’s Waging War for trainer Al Stall, Jr., Boyce withstood a sharp opening quarter five-horse battle in :21.52 en route to a 3½ length victory in 1:12.06 under the son of War Front. 

Riding her first meet at Fair Grounds Race Course after five years of riding on the Maryland circuit, she has done well at the New Orleans oval.  Her 10 wins from 51 starts through Friday’s card have her in eighth place in the standings and her 20% strike rate is second only to meet-leading jockey James Graham (26%).

            A multiple graded stakes-winning jockey, Boyce just finished a year in which she finished 81st in earnings nationally – her second best year after finishing 68th in 2013. 

LA TIA WORKS TOWARD 6-YEAR-OLD DEBUT

            Locally based Grade I-winning turf mare La Tia got back to work this morning when negotiating five furlongs in 1:03.20 for trainer Armando De La Cerda and owner Salvador Hernandez.  The daughter of City Place was working for the third time over the local surface since arriving from California following her impressive victory in the Grade I $300,000 Matriarch Stakes at Del Mar.  The dark bay 6-year-old also worked five furlongs on Dec. 23 and Dec. 16 for her connections – both in very easy fashion. 

            While a local start has not been completely disregarded, it looks as though a return trip out west is probable.  The firm turf-loving mare will likely point toward the Grade II $200,000 Buena Vista Stakes at Santa Anita Park on Feb. 16 as a kickoff to what will most likely be her final season of racing.

 

IRISH YOU WELL BACK ON TRACK

            Donegal Racing’s stakes winner and multiple graded-stakes placed Irish You Well continues to progress locally for trainer Wayne Catalano.  A winner of the Listed $100,000 Long Branch Stakes at Monmouth last summer, the son of Broken Vow was last seen finishing fourth in the Grade I $1,000,000 Haskell Invitational on July 27.  Previous to those efforts, he also was third in a pair of graded stakes – the Grade II $200,000 Peter Pan Stakes and Grade III $500,000 Illinois Derby. 

“We’re getting him back on track,” Catalano reported.  “We have him on the worktab now and he’s doing good right now.  We haven’t mapped out races just yet.  Probably after the next breeze we’ll look for something.”

            On Dec. 29 the chestnut charge went four furlongs in :52.40.  The move was his third since returning to the worktab at Fair Grounds and followed a similar half-mile move on Dec. 18 and a three-furlong work on Dec. 11.