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Stakes Advances: Louisiana Stakes & Marie Krantz

 

ALBANO KICKS OFF CAMPAIGN IN LOUISIANA STAKES; GRADE I WINNER KITTEN’S DUMPLINGS RETURNS IN KRANTZ

Brereton C. Jones’ Albano will look to kick off what could be a breakthrough year for the son of Istan when he heads a six-horse field for the 69th running of the 1 1/16-mile Listed $75,000 Louisiana Stakes at Fair Grounds Race Course on Saturday afternoon.  Trained by Larry Jones, the bay 4-year-old exits a sophomore season that saw him win the Grade III $150,000 Pegasus Stakes, finish second to subsequent Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Bayern in the Grade I $1,000,000 Haskell Invitational and place in three other graded stakes.  Since returning to training, the Kentucky-bred has worked phenomenally, including five bullet works in his last seven moves – highlighted by a five-furlong breeze in :59.60 on Jan. 6.  Kerwin Clark rides from post five.     

The late Jim Tafel’s 5-year-old Louisiana defending champion Fordubai has also served notice in the mornings that he may be a force with which to reckon on Jan. 17.  A notoriously slow workhorse, the son of E Dubai shot out an uncharacteristic bullet on Jan. 4 for trainer Greg Geier – working a half-mile in a :47.80.  Very consistent throughout his career, the five-time winner and two-time stakes victor is exiting a game third in the $50,000 Tenacious Stakes on Dec. 21 and will team up with Robby Albarado from post two.

Multiple graded stakes-winning stalwarts Nates Mineshaft and Grand Contender will try to put their youthful rivals in their proverbial places when they line up in the Louisiana for their respective connections.  Windy Hill Farms’ Anne Smith-trained 8-year-old Nates Mineshaft – third last out in the $60,000 Thanksgiving Handicap at six furlongs – owns the 1 1/8-mile Fair Grounds track record, as well as three graded stakes victories.  The Louisiana will be his first attempt at a two-turn dirt race on a standard oval since he was third in the Grade I $400,000 Stephen Foster Handicap in 2012 – finishing three-quarters of a length behind Wise Dan.  Brian Hernandez, Jr. rides the son of Mineshaft from the rail.  Maggi Moss’ Tom Amoss-trained 7-year-old Grand Contender exits an easy wire-to-wire victory in the off-the-turf and sloppy $50,000 Buddy Diliberto Memorial on Dec. 19 and will try to improve upon his runner-up finish last year in the Louisiana. James Graham rides the five-time stakes winner from the outside post six. 

Hard Aces (Jose Riquelme, post three) and Paddy’s Notes (Marcelino Pedroza, post four) make up the remainder of the Louisiana field.

GRADE I WINNER KITTEN’S DUMPLINGS RETURNS IN KRANTZ

The 20th running of the $60,000 Marie G. Krantz Memorial – at 1 1/16 miles on Fair Grounds Race Course’s Stall-Wilson turf course – has been chosen as the re-unveiling of Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey’s highly regarded homebred Kitten’s Dumplings.  A Grade I winner who has been off since a ninth-place finish in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf in 2013, Kitten’s Dumplings won the Grade I Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup in October 2013 and has earned nearly $700,000 in a 13-race career that also includes two other graded stakes victories.  The daughter of Kitten’s Joy will take on 10 other rivals, including defending champion Eden Prairie in an exciting renewal that goes as one of five stakes on Saturday’s Road to the Derby Kickoff Day card presented by Hotel Monteleone.  Trained by Mike Maker, Kitten’s Dumplings will break from post nine under Mike Smith. 

Lothenbach Stables’ multiple stakes winner Eden Prairie returns to defend her title in the Krantz Memorial. Now five, Eden Prairie returned to a Fair Grounds turf course she relished last out when proving an easy front-end winner of the $50,000 Blushing K. D. Stakes on December 18. Trained by Neil Pessin, the versatile daughter of Mizzen Mast has won four of her six starts on the local grass and will team again with jockey Florent Geroux from post ten.

Haynes Stables et al’s Every Way drew widest of all in the field of 11 and will be making her first start since a lackluster try on the Del Mar Polytrack last August. Prior to that effort, the City Zip mare was fifth, beaten just three lengths in the Grade II John C. Mabee on the Del Mar turf. A Grade III-placed runner trained by Mike Stidham, Every Way will be paired with Robby Albarado.

Stidham also saddles stakes newcomer Notte d’Oro for Twin Creeks Racing Stable. The 4-year-old Medaglia d’Oro filly has won both of her lifetime starts on the Stall-Wilson turf course and closed willingly to win a second-level allowance optional claiming event here on December 18 under James Graham, who has the return call Saturday from post five.

The Krantz field is completed by: Hung the Moon (Miguel Mena, post one), Malibu Yankee (Brian Hernandez, Jr., post two), Synapse (Marcelino Pedroza, post three), Midnight Sweetie (Jose Riquelme, post four), Interest Free (Jamie Theriot, post six), Maid On a Mission (Abel Lezcano, post seven) and Samiam (Kerwin Clark, post eight).