Home of the Louisiana Derby

BARN NOTES: March 11, 2016

  • ·        I’m a Chatterbox Leaning Toward Keeneland Return
  • ·        Land Over Sea Possibly Louisiana-Bound
  • ·        Zapperini to Pass on Louisiana Derby



Fletcher and Carolyn Gray’s Grade I-winning queen of Fair Grounds Race Course I’m a Chatterbox, who swept all three major stakes for sophomore fillies last year,will unfortunately not make an appearance in the afternoons at the New Orleans oval in 2016, but continues to work well toward her 4-year-old bow for trainer Larry Jones. The daughter of Munnings had her fifth work since returning to the tab in early February, negotiating five furlongs on Monday morning in 1:01.80 – good for 12th of 29 moves at the trip. Regular rider Florent Geroux was aboard.

“We’re still letting her tell us when she will be ready,” Jones said. “She definitely wants to do more than we’re allowing her to do right now. We might look at something like the (Grade III $100,000) Doubledogdare (Stakes at Keeneland on Apr. 22) to get her started. There are races like the (Grade I $1,000,000) Ogden Phipps (Stakes at Belmont Park on Jun. 11) that we wouldn’t mind being in, as well as the (Grade I $750,000) Delaware Handicap (at Delaware Park on July 16) at our home base for the summer. We sure would like to pick that one up.”

An Eclipse Award finalist for champion 3-year-old filly following a season in which she earned more money than any American 3-year-old filly, I’m a Chatterbox’s main goal is a return to the Breeders’ Cup Distaff in which a poor trip landed her eighth in 2015, arguably costing her a championship.



The field for the Grade II $400,000 Fair Grounds Oaks is likely to get a little more interesting on Mar. 26, as Reddam Racing’s two-time Grade I-placed Land Over Sea is looking to throw her bonnet into the ring for trainer Doug O’Neill. The daughter of Bellamy Road has good reason to leave her home state of California, as she has finished astern divisional leader Songbird in her previous five attempts, including finishing second to her three times.

In her two attempts since commencing her sophomore campaign, the chestnut filly has been runner-up to the champ and was distanced in the process in the Grade II Las Virgenes Stakes on Feb. 6 and Grade III Santa Ysabel Stakes on Mar. 5.

“We are seriously considering coming to the Fair Grounds,” O’Neill said. “It’s coming back a little quick for her, so we’re going to wait three or four days to make a decision. If she needs more time, we’ll look at the Ashland at Keeneland as her (Kentucky) Oaks prep. We like the (Fair Grounds Oaks) because we think the long stretch will suit her, even if the timing of the Ashland is better.”

One angle that may bode well for Land Over Sea enjoying the local surface is her pedigree. She is out of the Pulpit mare Belle Watling, making her a half-sister to Loooch Racing’s Tom Amoss-trained War Story, who won an allowance last season over the New Orleans oval and was then placed in three consecutive graded stakes over the surface, including a third in the Grade II Louisiana Derby.

Land Over Sea sold for O’Neill via his brother Dennis’ bidding for $130,000 at April 2015’s OBS sale and has earned $228,000, despite chasing Songbird around, with a record of 7-1-4-1. Her lone off-the-board finish was in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies where she placed seventh.



Lloyd Madison Farms’ Zapperini returned to the work tab last week for the first time since finishing an even fifth in the Grade II $400,000 Risen Star Stakes for trainer Greg Foley. The good-looking son of Ghostzapper may not follow the path of the four horses who finished in front of him and go on to the Grade II $1,000,000 Louisiana Derby on Mar. 26. Instead, Foley is considering a slightly softer option for the dark bay colt.

“We haven’t decided what we’re doing with him, but we do know he’s not headed to the Louisiana Derby,” Foley said. “We breezed him last week and I’ll breeze him back Sunday or Monday and get with my owners and decide. Turfway (Park) is possible with the (Grade III $500,000) Spiral (Stakes on Apr. 2) or the ($100,000) Rushaway (Stakes) on the undercard that day. If not there, we’ll look at an a-other-than at Keeneland. He’s doing good and came out well.”

Earlier this meet, Zapperini was a smart winner of a two-turn maiden special weight in what was only his first try around two turns, his first start of his 3-year-old campaign and only try since just missing on debut at 36-1 odds in a Churchill Downs maiden going a flat mile. His conqueror that day, Z Royal, is currently listed as possible for the Grade II Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park later this month.

Michael Adolphson | @AdolphsonRacing
Media Specialist, Senior Writer