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STAKES ADVANCES: Esplanade Stakes & Colonel Power Stakes

  • ·        STAKES ADVANCE: Ahh Chocolate and Savings Account Clash in Esplanade
  • ·        STAKES ADVANCE: Bayerd, El Seventyseven Top Packed Colonel Power
  • ·        Louisiana Derby Horses Highlight Work Tab





Friday’s $50,000 Esplanade Stakes produced an eight-horse field of impressive proportions, including last out Grade II winner Ahh Chocolate and recently Grade I-placed Savings Account. At a mile and 70 yards over Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots’ main track, the Esplanade also attracted stakes winners Steel Cut and Brooklynsway, as well as last-out allowance winners Tiz Lately and Emmajestic.

The expected favorite is 5-2 morning-line choice Ahh Chocolate. A Stoneway Farm homebred daughter of Candy Ride, the Neil Howard trainee began her career at the New Orleans oval on Feb. 21, 2015 – Risen Star Day – with an eye-opening graduation over subsequent stakes filly Thoughtless. She went on to quickly become graded stakes-placed around two turns before breaking through at said level in her 3-year-old finale, the Grade II $200,000 Falls City Handicap on Nov. 26 in which she impressively drew clear of her rivals by 1½ lengths under Brian Hernandez, Jr. Hernandez has the mount again from the rail in what is likely a prep for the Grade I $600,000 Apple Blossom Handicap on Apr. 15.

Savings Account is the 3-1 second-choice on the morning line for the always-dangerous barn of Tom Proctor. From an outfit that has started just three horses at the meet, hitting the board with two of those, the 5-year-old gray daughter of Medaglia d’Oro was second last out to kick off her campaign in the $50,000 Wayward Lass Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs. Three back, the Heider Family Stables and Craig Bernick-owned mare was a distant third behind champion Beholder in the Grade I Zenyatta Stakes at Santa Anita. James Graham picks up the mount from post two.

Naveed Chowhan’s Brooklynsway, 6-1, will make her first start on dirt after 13 career races in Canada over Woodbine’s turf and Polytrack surfaces. Previously trained by John Ross, she is now in the care of Bernie Flint and has posted a series of strong works over the local strip. A four-time stakes-winning daughter of Giant Gizmo, she easily leads the field in earnings with $537,241 – more than both Ahh Chocolate and Savings Account combined. Robby Albarado rides from post six.

Tiz Lately (Shaun Bridgmohan, post three), Zeven (Miguel Mena, post four), Magnificent Margo (Florent Geroux, post five), Emmajestic (Richard Eramia, post seven) and Steel Cut (Mitchell Murrill, post eight) complete the field.




Clark Brewster’s multiple stakes winner Bayerd, already a stakes victor at the current meet, returns to Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots for Saturday’s $50,000 Colonel Power Stakes, which drew a field of 13 swift warriors to travel 5½ furlongs over the Stall-Wilson turf course. At 9-2 on the morning line, the 4-year-old Steve Asmussen-trained son of Speightstown exits a second in allowance company at Oaklawn Park. Three back, he won the rained-off $60,00 Bonapaw Stakes at Fair Ground impressively. Shaun Bridgmohan picks up the mount from post six in what will be the bay colt’s first attempt on the grass in a career that has already earned him more than a half-million dollars in earnings.

Morning-line favoritism was awarded to Novogratz Racing Stables’ El Seventyseven, from the barn of Hugh Robertson, who is having a tremendous Fair Grounds meet. The 8-year-old son of Stormy Atlantic won his lone career start in New Orleans, when easily taking a course and distance allowance last season. Unraced since finishing third in restricted stakes company in September at Parx, the  consistent stakes winner owns a record of 18-5-1-4 at this trip. Marcelino Pedroza rides from post four.

Meet-leading owner Midwest Thoroughbreds has entered recent stakes winner Galton, from the barn of Tom Amoss. A smart claim for $30,000 last February, the son of Offlee Wild won the $75,000 Sam Houston Turf Sprint two back and picks up the riding services of James Graham from post nine.

Two horses who have shown immense form in local turf sprint races step up in class in Ali and Joel Rush’s Brad Cox-trained Whiskey Bravo (Robby Albarado, post 10) and Steve Vanovich, et al.’s Greg Foley-trained Latent Revenge (Francisco Torres, post 13). The latter will be wheeling back on 13 days’ rest and a 92 Beyer while winning in hand at this trip on Mar. 6 – his second consecutive allowance win and third at this course and distance in five tries throughout his nine-race career. Whiskey Bravo was claimed last out for $40,000 in what was his third consecutive course and distance win this meet. Unbelievably at peak career form in his 6-year-old campaign, the son of Fusaichi Pegasus is 7-for-14 at this trip and has recorded Beyer Speed Figures (90 and 92 in last two) that make him competitive with this bunch.

Reflector (Diego Saenz, rail), D’cajun Cat (Juan Vargas, post two), El Botas (Brian Hernandez, Jr., post three), Reigning Catfish (Mitchell Murrill, post five), Easy Crossing (Donnie Meche, post seven), Speightsong (Miguel Mena, post eight), Billy Two Hats (C. J. McMahon, post 11), and Vigorous Titan (Jesus Castanon, post 12) complete the field.



Louisiana Derby hopeful and Grade II Risen Star Stakes runner-up Forevamo worked a half-mile in 49.40 for trainer Al Stall, Jr. and owner Brittlyn Stable. Finishing third behind Forevamo last out in the Risen Star, G M B Racing’s Mo Tom also worked a half-mile Sunday morning, getting his in 48.60 for Tom Amoss. It was his second consecutive strong work since the Feb. 20 event.

Mark Breen’s graded stakes-winning Jessica’s Star worked a half-mile in 48.60 for trainer Mike Stidham. Second last out off an eight-month layoff in the Listed Maxxam Gold Cup at Sam Houston, the son of Magna Graduate is possible for the Grade II New Orleans Handicap on Mar. 26. Fourth in the Maxxam Gold Cup, Fox Hill Farms’ Coup de Grace worked five furlongs in 1:00.80 for trainer Larry Jones.

Jensen continued his preparation for the Grade III Spiral Stakes and a hopeful entry onto the Kentucky Derby trail for breeder-owner-trainer Larry Jones. The son of Haynesfield exits a local romp in allowance company going a mile and 70 yards.

Breeders’ Cup Sprint fourth-place finisher last out, Jerry Durant’s Holy Boss continued his comeback work with a five-furlong move in 1:04 flat for trainer Steve Asmussen.

Multiple meet and surface stakes winner Cash Control worked a bullet half-mile in a best of 99 move in 47.60 for trainer Brad Cox and owners Richard and Bertram Klein.

Charles Fipke’s Dallas Stewart-trained Forever d’Oro, a half-brother to Forever Unbridled and Unbridled Forever, worked a half-mile in 49 flat in advance of his career debut, which is expected to be toward the beginning of the Keeneland meet.

Louisiana-bred stakes winner One King’s Man worked a half-mile in 50.80 for trainer Joe Sharp and owners Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey.

Talented and lightly raced stakes-winning Louisiana-bred Half Cajun worked six furlongs toward a possible start in the Crescent City Derby in 1:14 flat for Sweet Hodges and Stacey Moak.

Sagamore Farm and Brereton C. Jones’ quick 4-year-old undefeated allowance-winning colt Chief Istan worked another blinder Sunday morning, with the compact son of Istan negotiating five furlongs in 1:00.60 – good for second-best of 51 moves at the distance.