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BARN NOTES: January 3, 2016

  • ·        Loaded Asmussen May Shoot Stageplay for Silverbulletday
  • ·        Chocolate Ride on Course for Bradley
  • ·        Dolphus Possible for Lecomte
  • ·        Bayerd Exits Bonapaw Win Well
  • ·        Work Tab



Trainer Steve Asmussen has one of the hottest hands in the country when it comes to newly turned sophomore fillies. Already at the helm of Grade I Frizette Stakes winner Nickname – who finished fourth in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies – and Stonestreet Farm’s high-profile million-dollar purchase Royal Obsession, he is now possibly pointing stakes winner Stageplay toward the Listed $150,000 Silverbulletday Stakes on Jan. 16. The daughter of Curlin signaled her fitness with a bullet five-furlong move in 1:01.20 on Sunday morning in company with Royal Obsession.

“(The Silverbulletday) is definitely a possibility for Stageplay,” Asmussen confirmed when asked which of his starlets would shoot for the first major sophomore filly event at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots in 2016.

Last season, Fletcher and Carolyn Gray’s Larry Jones-trained I’m a Chatterbox used a nine-length romp in the Silverbulletday to kick off a stellar season that earned her four stakes victories and more than $1.2 million in earnings.



Trainer Brad Cox not only has the likely favorite for the Grade III $125,000 Col. E. R. Bradley Handicap on Jan. 16 in John Wentworth’s house favorite Chocolate Ride, but also would likely have the second- or third-choice if he chose to enter Al and Bill Ulwelling’s stakes winner Pumpkin Rumble, who was a sharp allowance victor over the Stall-Wilson turf course in December. Unfortunately for racing fans, Cox is doing the judicious thing and splitting up his two charges.

“We’re probably running Chocolate Ride in the (Bradley),” Cox confirmed. “His work (Sunday morning) was a little slower than we wanted, but there was a little confusion with a horse breaking off and (Chocolate Ride) galloped out really good. Despite a little traffic trouble, the work was really good. He’s doing excellent.”

A victory by the son of Candy Ride would give him wins in all three of Fair Grounds’ graded grass stakes for older horses. In 2015, the aptly named dark brown charge took down both the Grade III $125,000 Fair Grounds Handicap and Grade II $400,000 Mervin H. Muniz Memorial.

“Right now we’ll let him tell us what we’ll do (after the Bradley),” Cox said. “If we feel like we should run him in the (Fair Grounds Handicap) and then the Grade I ($300,000) Maker’s 46 Mile at Keeneland, we might do that. We will take it race by race. That’s how I like to do it.

“Pumpkin Rumble (above) is kind of a one-paced horse and a lot of things make me think longer distances won’t bother him,” Cox continued. “We are looking at the (Grade III $200,000) Connally (Turf Cup at Sam Houston on Jan. 30) going a mile and a half.”



High-profile sophomore colt Dolphus is possible for the Grade III $200,000 Lecomte Stakes, according to trainer Joe Sharp. The Dede McGehee homebred and half-brother to Rachel Alexandra won at six furlongs on debut opening weekend at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots and followed that effort with a game third against winners at the Lecomte’s mile and 70-yard trip on Dec. 18. He worked toward his possible stakes debut with a half-mile drill on Saturday in 50.40.

“He had a great work yesterday and has been training well,” Sharp said. “He’s doing better than he did before his last race and the ‘a -other-than’ didn’t fill, so we may go to the Lecomte with him. It depends on how it shapes up.

“My personal vote would be to run,” Sharp continued. “We’ve always had that race in our minds and he gained a ton out of his last race. He physically looks more athletic and is starting to lose that baby fat and look like an older horse.”

If he competes, the son of Lookin at Lucky will likely face the two foes who finished ahead of him last out – Mark Breen’s Mike Stidham-trained Pinnacle Peak and Gayle Benson’s Dallas Stewart-trained Tom’s Ready.



According to trainer Steve Asmussen, Bayerd has exited his victory in Saturday’s $60,000 Bonapaw Stakes in good form. The son of Speightstown won for the first time since December 2014 when he took the $150,000 Springboard Mile at Remington Park as a juvenile.

Now a newly turned 4-year-old, the bay colt shook off the ‘seconditis’ that saw him be the bridesmaid in four stakes in 2015, while going winless. Owned by Clark Brewster, the $75,000 bargain sales purchase has now earned nearly a half-million dollars. His next start is undecided.



LNJ Foxwoods’ Grade I-winning Nickname had her second work since finishing a game fourth in the Grade I $2,000,000 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies on Oct. 31, going a half-mile in 51.40 for trainer Steve Asmussen.

Richard and Bertram Klein’s Cash Control, fresh off an easy win in the $50,000 Tiffany Lass Stakes on Dec. 19, returned to the work tab for trainer Brad Cox, negotiating a half-mile in a swift 48.80 – good for fourth-best of 122.

Brittlyn Stable’s star pupil Sunbean continues his comeback for trainer Ron Faucheux, working a useful half-mile in 51 flat over a course that was playing on the slower side all morning. The move registered as the 70th fastest of 122.

Fox Hill Farm’s Coup de Grace signaled that he may be ready to race soon with a 1:02.20 gate move for five furlongs – just five days after a five-furlong move in 1:02.40 for trainer Larry Jones.

Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey’s Louisiana-bred stakes winner One King’s Man worked an easy five furlongs in 1:03.20 for trainer Joe Sharp.

Good-looking and well-named graded stakes-placed I’m a Looker returned to the tab, working a half-mile in 50.80 for trainer Pat Dupuy and owner Glenmare Farm.

Mike G. Rutherford’s homebred Stageplay and her Stonestreet Farm-owned stablemate Royal Obsession lit up the track with a swift five furlongs in tandem in 1:01.20 for trainer Steve Asmussen. Second last out in the Grade II $200,000 Golden Rod Stakes at Churchill Downs on Nov. 28, Stageplay won the $80,000 Rags To Riches Stakes two back in her second career start. She is possible for the Listed $150,000 Silverbulletday Stakes on Jan. 16, while plans are still to be decided for Royal Obsession.

John Wentworth’s Chocolate Ride continues to train well for his next stakes attempt, working a half-mile in 52 flat, despite traffic issues during the move. Galloping out well, his move pleased trainer Brad Cox.


-Michael Adolphson | Media Specialist, Senior Writer