Home of the Louisiana Derby

BARN NOTES: January 8, 2016

  • ·        International Star Returns for More Louisiana Glory
  • ·        Coup de Grace Kicks Off 5-Year-Old Season Going Long
  • ·        Kitten’s Dumplings Sold to Japan
  • ·        Magnificent Margo a Main Track Lover
  • ·        Work Tab



Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey’s International Star returns to the site of his greatest accomplishments next weekend when the reigning Grade II $750,000 Louisiana Derby champion starts in the $75,000 Louisiana Stakes on Jan. 16. After sweeping all three graded stakes for sophomores at the New Orleans oval last year, the compact colt was poised for a run in the Grade I $2,000,000 Kentucky Derby, but was scratched the morning of the race with heat on the inside quarter of his left front hoof.

International Star has raced once since his aforementioned big victory when fourth as the 6-5 favorite in the $200,000 Zia Park Derby on Nov. 25 at its New Mexican namesake course. The Louisiana, like the Zia Park Derby and the New York-bred’s victory in last year’s Grade II $400,000 Risen Star Stakes, is at 1 1/16 miles on the main track.

“He had a disastrous trip out to Zia Park,” Ken Ramsey said. “That definitely did not turn out as well as we hoped for him. It wasn’t so much bad luck as we were probably misguided in sending him out there. We couldn’t get transportation and even if we flew him, we would have to van him from there, so it was too many van rides. So, we hauled him all the way from Kentucky in one of my own vans and it didn’t go well. I really wanted to get another derby victory for him since we couldn't run him in the Kentucky Derby.

“Right now he’s doing well and he loves the track down at the Fair Grounds,” Ramsey continued. “Hopefully you’ll see a different horse this time. We expect him to run his race and hopefully get another stakes win over that track.”

In 10 career lifetime starts, International Star has won five times, including four graded stakes tallies. To be reunited with Miguel Mena, under whom he is a perfect 3-for-3 in the aforementioned triad of local stakes, the consistent bay charge has earned over a million dollars and finished worse than fourth only once – when ninth, beaten only 3¼ lengths, in the Grade I $1,000,000 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf in 2014.



Trainer Larry Jones is not letting the 2015 campaign of Fox Hill Farm’s highly regarded multiple graded stakes winner Coup de Grace get him down on the son of Tapit. A good-looking chestnut with a big blaze, Coup de Grace entered 2015 after a sophomore season that saw him win a pair of sprint graded stakes and place in Grade I company as the 2-1 favorite in the King’s Bishop at Saratoga. Unfortunately, in three starts, he only hit the board once and that was in his lone Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots start, going six furlongs in his seasonal debut on Mar. 20.

“He’s always been a good horse and we’d love to win a Grade I with him,” Jones said. “We’re going to run him in the ($75,000) Louisiana (Stakes on Jan. 16) going two turns. Once we had him ready last year, he kind of got hurt and we knew something was bugging him. Finally after two bad races, he got a nuclear scan and they found something and that necessitated the time off. Now he’s doing well.”

The Louisiana is at 1 1/16 miles and will be only the second time the 5-year-old horse has raced a distance that far. In Jan. 2014, in only his third start for previous trainer Chad Brown, he finished 10th of 11 in the Grade II $400,000 Holy Bull Stakes.

“We are going to get him out of the sprint mindset and immediately start him long (in the Louisiana),” Jones continued. “There’s no reason he can’t go long. When (Brown) had him they thought he could be a Derby horse, but his biggest problem is not wanting to agree with you. As he’s gotten older, he’s become a little more mellow and right now he’s training well and I have noticed good things with him and (jockey Florent) Geroux in the mornings. We just hope he’s tight enough.”



Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey’s locally based homebred Grade I winner and recent Blushing K. D. Stakes at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots victress Kitten’s Dumplings has been sold privately and will not start in the $60,000 Marie G. Krantz Memorial at the New Orleans oval on Jan. 16. A daughter of Ramsey’s superstar sire Kitten’s Joy, she went out on a winning note for trainer Mike Maker, and closes her American tenure with eight victories in 20 starts, while just shy of $800,000 in earnings.

“If nothing happens between now and Monday, she’ll be gone and sold to the Japanese,” Ramsey confirmed. “The Japanese have been very good to us. From Roses in May to Stephanie’s Kitten and now Kitten’s Dumplings, I’ve enjoyed working with them. We had originally tried to shop around for a good stallion for her, but then she won the (Blushing K. D.) and that helped get her sold.

“The day before yesterday we won with a Kitten’s Joy named Normandy Kitten in France and we’ve won in England, Ireland, Dubai, Barbados and Canada, as well,” he continued. “We operate on an international scale with him. His fertility rate is still very high, his book is going well and we treat him like the franchise he is.”



Trainer Joe Sharp would not mind if New Orleans’ rampant wet weather continues into next weekend’s stakes-filled card. Not only is his Dede McGehee-owned stable star Dolphus – bound for the Grade III $200,000 Lecomte Stakes – bred to relish a wet course, but his Jeff Drown-owned pupil Magnificent Margo recently romped in her first start on a dirt track on Dec. 28.

A winner on debut in Aug. 2014 on the Saratoga turf, the daughter of Congrats relished her first taste of the main track in the mile and 70-yard allowance, winning by nearly eight lengths over a sealed good surface under Brian Hernandez, Jr. Dismissed at nearly 10-1, the dark bay improved on four consecutive off-the-board finishes over grass and synthetic surfaces.

“She’s one of those fillies who broke her maiden on the grass at Saratoga and no one wanted to take her off the grass after that,” Sharp explained. “The owner finally said let’s try her on dirt and she ran really great. We wouldn’t mind if the ($60,000 Marie G.) Krantz (Memorial) came off (the grass). (Drown) has been really patient and now the filly is doing great.”



LNJ Foxwoods’ Grade I-winning Breeders’ Cup alum Nickname worked a half-mile in 50.40 for trainer Steve Asmussen. The daughter of Scat Daddy was fourth last out in the Grade I $2,000,000 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies.

Ronald Webb’s Hot Zapper, an upset winner of the $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Turf on Dec. 12, worked a sharp five furlongs in 1:00.20 in advance of his run in the Grade III $125,000 Col. E. R. Bradley Handicap on Jan. 16 for trainer Andy Leggio.

Multiple graded stakes-winning sprinter Clearly Now worked an easy five furlongs in 1:04.40 for trainer Ron Faucheux and owner Brittlyn Stable. The same owner-trainer team had recent $50,000 Letellier Memorial winner Above Fashion go a half-mile in 52 flat.

-Michael Adolphson | Media Specialist, Senior Writer