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Barn Notes: Friday, November 18

·        Totally Drenched Stepping Up in Thanksgiving
·        Grade I-Winners’ Siblings Face Off in 2YO Turf Maiden

·        Work Tab

TOTALLY DRENCHED STEPPING UP IN THANKSGIVING

Among a field heavy on burgeoning talent, Tommy Ligon’s Totally Drenched will step up in company in pursuit of his first stakes victory for trainer Larry Jones in Thursday’s $75,000 Thanksgiving Handicap. The swift 4-year-old gelded son of Stormy Atlantic will break from post five of seven and carries Gabriel Saez for the fifth time in a row.

Last out, in a salty conditioned allowance, the bay charge was a valiant second going 6½  furlongs at Keeneland to The Truth or Else. Said effort followed two consecutive condition-climbing victories at Delaware Park going six furlongs. A try in an ungraded stakes at the same trip seems to be the obvious next step for the winner of 4-of-10 starts.

“That’s just it,” Jones said. “He keeps improving and it’s either step up or get outta the kitchen. Everything going well for him. We will let Gabriel decide what to do with him once the gates open.

“He’s been a bit of an overachiever,” Jones continued. “When we got him and started out, we didn’t know what to expect because he didn’t train super-great, but now he’s starting to put a lot into his training. I don’t know if it’s maturity or what, but he’s improving.”

Totally Drenched had made his first two starts in Canada at Woodbine for trainer Barbra Minshall, resulting in a debut win over Woodbine’s then-Polytrack surface and a last-place turf allowance finish. Since starting with Jones, he has not finished worse than fourth in seven starts, including three victories. The Thanksgiving Handicap will be his stakes debut.

GRADE I-WINNERS’ SIBLINGS FACE OFF IN 2YO TURF MAIDEN

Adding to a Thanksgiving Day that already features a competitive and exciting renewal of the $75,000 Thanksgiving Handicap – a face-off between multiple graded stakes winner Clearly Now and a phalanx of up-and-coming 3- and 4-year-old sprinters – is an intriguing maiden special weight event for juveniles going a mile on the Stall-Wilson turf course.

Powerhouse barns such as Mike Maker, Tom Amoss, Mark Casse, Joe Sharp, Larry Jones and Steve Asmussen will be represented among the 13 entered (including one main track only), with the last two barns holding a pair of promising pedigrees between them.

The Jones barn will be represented by Zinger, a half-brother to multiple Grade I-winning Fair Grounds favorite I’m a Chatterbox. Another homebred of Fletcher and Carolyn Gray, Zinger is a son of promising young stallion The Factor and was eighth in his debut going 1 1/16-miles on the Keeneland turf last month.

The Asmussen barn will start Hard to Impress, a gray son of Hard Spun and Grade I winner Zoftig, making the Kentucky-bred a half-brother to Grade I-winning Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint-placed runner Zaftig. Hard to Impress will be making his fourth career start and third on the grass following a gaining effort last out when third in Remington Park maiden company.

If the race comes off the turf, it loses little luster, as Godolphin Racing and trainer Mike Stidham have entered Brookline for the main track. A son of America’s top stallion Tapit, the gray colt is a half-brother to the current ninth-leading stud on the continent, Bernardini, being out of Grade I winner Cara Rafaela.

Others worth watching from a pedigree standpoint are Calumet Farm’s Casse-trained debuter Red Bo, who is by English Channel out of a More Than Ready half-sister to Kentucky Oaks winner Plum Pretty, Jerry Namy’s Amoss-trained Daddy’s Placer, a $360,000 daughter of top late turf sire Scat Daddy and multiple graded winner Four Gifts making her turf debut, and Roy Robert McClintock’s Sharp-trained Mister Corbit, from the first crop of Frankel’s three-quarter brother Bullet Train, who already has a juvenile turf stakes winner this fall to his credit.

The maiden takes place as Race 8, one event prior to the Thanksgiving Handicap, with a 2:37 p.m. CST post. It kicks off the final $0.50 Pick 3 (Races 8-10) and is the second leg of the late $0.50 Pick 4 (Races 7-10), which also includes the Thanksgiving Handicap.

WORK TAB

Swift stakes winner and victor in 5-of-7 in his career, Sagamore Farm and Brereton C. Jones’ Chief Istan burned up the track with a bullet five furlongs in 59 flat for trainer Larry Jones - the best by a full second of 53 moves at the distance.

Midwest Thoroughbreds’ multiple stakes-placed Quijote worked toward his return to stakes action in Thursday’s Thanksgiving Handicap with a half-mile move in 48.40 for trainer Tom Amoss.

Group III winner Aktabantay, owned by Rainbow’s End Racing Stable, worked a half-mile in 49.60 for trainer Tom Morley.

Fox Hill Farms’ well-related stakes winner Exodus worked toward his return to racing with a co-bullet 47.80 half-mile for trainer Larry Jones. The son of Medaglia d’Oro and half-brother to Cross Traffic last raced exactly 11 months ago when fifth in a Fair Grounds allowance. 

An unraced juvenile filly to watch may be Keith Plaisance’s Light Her Up, who burned up the track with a co-bullet of 65 half-mile in 47.80. By Tizway, she is out of popular Louisiana-bred multiple stakes winner Lightlightlight.