Home of the Louisiana Derby

Barn Notes: Friday, March 13




West Point Thoroughbreds’ promising and lightly raced Defondo may have earned his way into the Grade II $750,000 Louisiana Derby, according to trainer Dallas Stewart.  The son of El Corredor has raced a mere four times in his career – finishing fourth or better in all – and impressively broke his maiden at third asking on Jan. 30 at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots over six furlongs.  Last out, Defondo was a second in his two-turn debut on Feb. 26 at the New Orleans oval.

“He’s doing really good,” Stewart said.  “He’s had one breeze since his last race and we’ve got him nominated to the Louisiana Derby.  I’m going to train him that way and going to watch and see how he does.

“I thought he did well first time going two turns,” he continued.  “The winner clearly outran him, but (Defondo) tried hard and came back good.  We’ll take it one step at a time.  If we can get the Louisiana Derby – that’s great.   As far as the Kentucky Derby, hopefully we’re good enough to run in it after this.”

Defondo, a $170,000 Fasig-Tipton graduate in 2014, is a son of the stakes-winning Cure the Blues mare Blue Hills and hails from the family of Grade I winners Crusader Sword, Cherokee Colony and Turk Passer – as well as champions Speightstown and Silken Cat.  He represents a similar pattern for Stewart, who has trained the runner-up in each of the last two Kentucky Derbies – West Point’s Commanding Curve and Charles Fipke’s Golden Soul. 

Golden Soul, like Defondo, had a November debut at Churchill followed by three Fair Grounds races before finishing fourth in the Louisiana Derby in his final Kentucky Derby prep.  Commanding Curve, on the other hand, had five races prior to his third-place finish in the Louisiana Derby – all but one of those as a juvenile.  Defondo last worked on Mar. 9, negotiating four furlongs in :50.60 – good for 27th of 42 moves at the distance.


Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey’s One King’s Man, a winner of three of his last four and his last two in impressive fashion, may look for his first graded stakes victory next out in the Grade II $400,000 New Orleans Handicap on Saturday, Mar. 28 at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, according to conditioner Joe Sharp.  A win would not only give the son of K One King his second consecutive stakes victory, but also would deliver Sharp his first graded stakes victory as a trainer.  On Feb. 7, the 5-year-old Louisiana-bred presented the 30-year-old native of Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, with his first stakes victory as a trainer in the $200,000 Louisiana Premier Night Championship at Delta Downs.

“He’s doing really good,” Sharp said.  “He has had a couple really good works since the race and we will nominate him to both the New Orleans Handicap and the ($60,000 Star Guitar) Stakes for Louisiana-breds.  We’ll see how they come up.”

After 29 races that yielded a record of 6-6-5, the gray gelding was acquired by Sharp on behalf of the Ramseys from a Keeneland claiming event for $40,000 on Oct. 23.  In four starts since, he has three wins and an adjudged second-place finish via disqualification (moved up from third).  After defeating subsequent graded stakes winner String King in his Sharp debut on Nov. 23 at Fair Grounds, One King’s Man finished third in the $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Classic behind Sunbean on Dec. 13 over the New Orleans’ course and (1 1/8-miles) distance before being moved up to second.  One race later, he ousted a Fair Grounds conditioned allowance field by nearly four lengths on Jan. 12 at 1 1/16 miles, four weeks prior to getting his revenge on Sunbean at Delta Downs by 3½ lengths.

“I spoke with Mr. Ramsey and he said he does not have another horse for the race, so we are leaning toward the (New Orleans), considering we’re at home,” he continued.  “He’s improved a ton and the more he wins, the more his confidence continues to build.  He has a running style that he’s comfortable with and (jockey) Miguel (Mena) has done a really good job of letting him settle.  Obviously the numbers speak for themselves.  I don’t know what the ceiling is with him, but he’s definitely heading in the right direction and the best may be yet to come.”


A conditioned allowance race going as the fifth on an 11-race Sunday card at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots features the career finale of Louis Roussel, III’s Starship Duchess – a daughter of Speightstown who is in career form after a sharp optional claiming win two races back at the meet and a game second last out in the $60,000 Mardi Gras Stakes.

A winner of six of 15 starts and $162,716, Starship Duchess will return – weather permitting – to the grass after earning her two highest career Beyer Speed Figures (90 and 88) in dirt races, but has proven herself deadly on the Stall Wilson turf course at a perfect two-for-two.  Overall, in turf races, the Kentucky-bred is five for 11 and owns an 85 Beyer over this course and 5½-furlong distance 13 months ago.  The chestnut mare will be bred to star stallion Candy Ride at the end of March.  Richard Eramia has the return call from the rail.

Starship Duchess may have to vie for favoritism with the filly who finished directly astern her in the Mardi Gras, Whispering Oaks Farm’s Steve Flint-trained Street Story.  A graded stakes-winning sprinter on the dirt as a sophomore, the daughter of Street Cry returned from a six-month break to have a troubled trip last out.  Gerard Melancon picks up the mount from post seven in what will be the filly’s first attempt over the grass.  According to Flint, Sunday’s allowance is a possible prep for the $100,000 Carousel Stakes at Oaklawn Park on Apr. 8.

L T B Inc. and Hillerich Racing’s Mizzen Miss – a full-sister to last weekend’s $60,000 Allen Lacombe Memorial winner Mizz Money – lines up in post two under Francisco Torres and will be making her first start since an off-the-board effort in the the Grade III Dogwood Stakes at Churchill Downs on Sept. 20.  Last year, the daughter of Mizzen Mast won three consecutive turf sprints in her only grass attempts from six career starts.

Stakes-placed charges Adrianne G and Stoupinator add depth to a field that also includes capable allowance winners Keep Crossing and Angie’s Prim Lady.