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BARN NOTES: January 1, 2016

  • ·        A Promising Graduation for Late-Blooming Speak Softly
  • ·        Smittys Cougar Exits Louisiana Futurity Romp Well
  • ·        Half Cajun to Stay with Louisiana-Breds for Now



Lost in the buzz of the New Year’s Eve holiday vibe and two stakes on Thursday’s card was a breakout performance and graduation by Jay Em Ess Stable’s Paul McGee-trained Speak Softly in the third race. The daughter of Warrior’s Reward covered six furlongs in 1:11.25 in what was the final race of her sophomore season and sixth of her career thus far. In doing so, she dismantled five other fillies and mares by 5¾ facile lengths, while closing her final quarter in about 25 seconds over the good surface.  Piloted by Patrick Valenzuela, the effort earned her a 102 Equibase Speed Figure.

“She came out just fine and we were really happy with her,” McGee said. “I was really happy with the way she did it. She won easily. We will definitely think about stretching her out next time. Being out of a Smarty Jones mare, I think we’ll try that.”

A $180,000 Fasig-Tipton July 2013 purchase, Speak Softly is out of Betty’s Baroness, who is a half-sister to multiple Grade I winner Excellent Meeting and stakes winners Crowning Meeting and Crown of Crimson.



Roger G. Smith’s homebred Smittys Cougar, who romped by nearly 10 lengths in Thursday’s $96,970 Louisiana Futurity for fillies, has exited her effort well, according to trainer Ron Faucheux. Under Jose Validivia, Jr., the chestnut filly won for the third time in five starts and has yet to finish out of the money in her career. The victory was her first stakes win after finishing third in the $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Lassie on Dec. 12.

The next logical spot for the daughter of top Louisiana sire Half Ours and multiple stakes-winning turf sprinter Smitty’s Sunshine is the $125,000 Louisiana Premier Night Starlet at Delta Downs going seven furlongs on Feb. 6. Faucheux has also mentioned that the newly turned 3-year-old may point toward Fair Grounds turf sprints down the proverbial road.



Stacey Moak’s Half Cajun, who was an impressive winner over statebreds in Thursday’s $96,970 Louisiana Futurity colt and gelding division, is likely to stay with his fellow Pelican State-bred foes in the near future, according to trainer Sweet Hodges. The son of Half Hours, who completed a sweep of the Futurities for his sire, wired the field of eight in what was his second win from as many starts following a sharp win first out in a Louisiana Downs turf dash.

“Everything is fine with him this morning,” Hodges said. “We’ll look at Premier Night at Delta Downs, but it’s still up for discussion. The owner and I are going to discuss it. We won’t run him in open company yet. If we don’t go directly to Delta with him to run, we’ll likely run him in the Crescent City Derby.

“It’s hard to get them fit on works, but he sure ran well,” Hodges continued. “Hopefully he still has more to show and he seems to run well on either surface.”

The two aforementioned races that are possibly in the cards for Half Cajun are the $125,000 Louisiana Premier Night Prince at seven furlongs on Feb. 6 at Delta Downs and the $75,000 Crescent City Derby going 1 1/16 miles on Mar. 26 at Fair Grounds.

-Michael Adolphson | Media Specialist, Senior Writer