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Contact: Michael Adolphson, Staff Writer/Media Specialist, 504.948.1255,Michael.Adolphson@fgno.com





NEW ORLEANS (February 15, 2016) – Wentworth Brochu’s Chocolate Ride will attempt to continue his winning ways over the Stall-Wilson turf course when the gelded bay son of Candy Ride defends his title in the Grade III $125,000 Fair Grounds Handicap on Feb. 20. At 1 1/8 miles, the Fair Grounds was Chocolate Ride’s coming out party in 2015, wiring the field in near-track record time by a visually impressive 1¾ lengths for trainer Brad Cox.


In 2016, he will face some familiar faces, including four foes he defeated last out in the Grade III $125,000 Col. E. R. Bradley Handicap, as well as some new ones among his eight rivals when regular rider Florent Geroux takes the reins from post six. While there are few certainties in racing, one surety is that the betting public will not see that 13-1 from last year, as the six-time winner, track record holder at this trip and winner of all three local graded turf stakes has not gone off at higher than 9-2 since and is expected to be a heavy favorite once again.


Perhaps the greatest threat to end Chocolate Ride’s streak comes in the form of multiple graded stakes winner Departing, who returns to the grass after three consecutive runner-up finishes in dirt stakes for Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider. Now 6-years-old, the Al Stall, Jr., trainee has won eight of 22 and more than $1.8 million in his career and was perhaps at his best when taking last summer’s Grade II Firecracker Stakes at Churchill Downs going a grassy mile. John Velazquez, who will be the gelded son of War Front’s seventh different jockey in seven races, has the call from post seven. 


Three Diamonds Farm’s Roman Approval will look for his first stakes win after racing well in a series of graded stakes over the last eight months. A hard-charging runner-up in the Bradley last out, the Mike Maker-trained son of Roman Ruler has been training well locally – including a nice half-mile work on Jan. 30 in 49 flat – and will have the riding services of the country’s top rider of the last two years in Javier Castellano from post three.


Local favorite String King will try to win his 19th race when he breaks from the outside post nine under James Graham. The 8-year-old bay gelding was a rare non-factor last out in the Bradley when failing in defense and has not won since reeling off five stakes wins in six attempts between Dec. 2014 and last September. Bred, owned and trained by Charles C. Smith, the son of Crowned King has six wins over the Stall-Wilson turf course.


The remainder of the Fair Grounds field is comprised of Wireless Future (Corey Lanerie, rail), Potomac River (Juan Vargas, post two), Pumpkin Rumble (Mitchell Murrill, post four), Same As (Francisco Torres, post five) and Blarp (Colby Hernandez, post eight).


Two races earlier in the card, the $60,000 Daisy Devine Stakes features older turf fillies and mares going 1 1/16 miles on the Stall-Wilson. The proverbial ‘now’ horse in the field is Elm Racing’s Brad Cox-trained Street of Gold, who has put forth two excellent efforts since being transferred to her new barn, including a smart victory last out in the $60,000 Marie G. Krantz Memorial over this trip on Jan. 16. Robby Albarado has the return call from post three in the 10-horse field.


Graded stakes winner Mizz Money will try to turn the tables on Street of Gold after finishing a game second in the Krantz. A closing third last out in the $60,000 Mardi Gras Stakes going 5½ furlongs over this surface on Feb. 9, she wheels back on what seems to be her favorite surface and at a two-turn trip much more her forte. Jesus Castanon rides from the rail.


Three fillies ship in from Florida-based barns. Flaxman Holdings’ homebred Faulfiler, the fruit of a royal marriage between the great Galileo and Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Six Perfections, has shown little in her two American starts in graded company, but takes a class cut here for the always adept Graham Motion barn. A multiple Listed winner in France while trained by Pascal Bary, the bay 5-year-old mare was less than two lengths behind French champion Avenir Certain in the Group III Prix Bertrand du Breuil at Chantilly in June and then a length ahead of Bookrunner – who went on to finish ninth in the Grade I Arlington Million and second in the Group I Premio Vittorio di Capua – in the Group III Prix Messidor at Maisons-Laffitte. Joe Bravo picks up the mount from post five.


Arindel Farm, who shipped in Pancake to take the Broussard Stakes earlier this month over the local grass, sends another Ronny Werner trainee in Pink Poppy. Third last out in the $150,000 Sunshine Millions Filly & Mare Turf, the daughter of Tiznow will be tough with a return to the form that saw her finish a good third behind top turf fillies Coffee Clique and Testa Rossi last July in Grade III company. Florent Geroux rides from post six.

Notte d’Oro ships in for the powerful Christophe Clement barn and will make her first start since being sold for $450,000 at Fasig-Tipton’s November sale to Robert S. Evans. Previously owned by Twin Creeks Racing and trained by Mike Stidham, she was a smart winner of the 2015 Krantz and has three wins from four starts over the Stall-Wilson. The 5-year-old daughter of Medaglia d’Oro will break from the outside post 10 under Julien Leparoux.


Stidham will attempt to defeat his old pupil with Gary Vandeweghe and Cobra Farm’s Fila Primera, a promising 4-year-old War Front filly who has won three of eight starts, including the $75,000 Pago Hop Stakes in the mud on Dec. 26. A winner of her local debut on the Stall-Wilson, she was a gaining fourth last out in the Krantz and stands to improve here under regular rider Jose Valdivia, Jr. A former Chad Brown trainee who was graded stakes-placed at two, she has flourished under Stidham’s care and breaks from post seven.


The remainder of the Daisy Devine, a race named for Jim Miller’s Andrew McKeever-trained five-time Fair Grounds stakes winner, is comprised of Run Zippy Run (Miguel Mena, post two), Prayed For(Francisco Torres, post four), Magnificent Margo (Brian Hernandez, Jr., post eight) and Cash Control(Shaun Bridgmohan, post nine).