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Barn Notes: Saturday, November 19

·        Yockey’s Warrior Fit and Ready to Fly

·        Geroux to Return to Fair Grounds

·        Sunbean Tops Work Tab

YOCKEY’S WARRIOR FIT AND READY TO FLY

Two seasons ago on Louisiana Derby Preview Day, trainer Al Stall, Jr. had a big smile on his face following the smashing debut of Yockey’s Warrior. Blitzing six furlongs in 1:10 1/5, the then-3-year-old ran away by nearly seven lengths under Francisco Torres. Fast-forward 21 months, eight sporadic starts, a pair of victories and three placings later, the son of Warrior’s Reward seems to finally be back to form for his veteran conditioner.

“When he’s good, he’s very good,” Stall said. “Nothing has ever been wrong with him other than some air issues, for which he had surgery, and some little things here and there. We also tried him on the grass and it wasn’t the best race I could pick for him coming off the bench being over the hills (of Kentucky Downs), but it served its purpose.”

Owned by Stall and partners, Yockey’s Warrior will step up to stakes company for the first time in his career on Thursday, Nov. 24, in the $75,000 Thanksgiving Handicap. He starts from the outside post seven and takes on a talented bunch, including improving geldings Totally Drenched and Quijote, as well as graded stakes-proven Clearly Now and Union Jackson. Last out, the $140,000 Keeneland September 2013 Yearling Sale purchase looked like the Yockey’s Warrior of Feb. 2015, dismantling eight Keeneland allowance rivals after stalking the pace, drawing away by 4½ lengths at the wire under Miguel Mena. Mena retains the mount on Thursday.

“That race at Keeneland was wickedly fast and it was the first time he’s gone from one race to another without something bothering him,” Stall continued. “We like the outside draw. He was outside at Keeneland and he places himself, so if they’re going real fast, he may sit right off them. At Keeneland, they were going fast and he was on cruise control. I was sitting at the eighth-pole and when he went by he literally looked like he was flying. If we can get him to fly like that on Thursday, he’s going to be very tough.”

GEROUX TO RETURN TO FAIR GROUNDS

Though defending champion jockey Florent Geroux will not be present for opening weekend at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, the popular journeyman will be reporting to the New Orleans oval for the winter season on Nov. 27, according to agent Doug Bredar. 

The three-time Breeders’ Cup winning rider will base himself for the remainder of the season in The Big Easy, but will have a couple of trips elsewhere in the meantime, including Dec. 3 and 4 at Del Mar. Geroux will also represent the United States when among nine jockeys invited to Hong Kong Jockey Club next month to compete in the prestigious Longines International Jockey Championship on Dec. 7 at Happy Valley before returning to Fair Grounds for Louisiana Champions Day on Dec. 10.

Geroux is enjoying a productive year with nine Grade I victories, which ties him for the most in North America with Mike Smith. He is on pace to break 200 wins on the year and is currently the fifth-leading jockey on the continent in earned prize money.

SUNBEAN TOPS WORK TAB

Six-year-old Louisiana legend Sunbean, who has won three stakes in his last four starts, worked five furlongs in 1:01.40 for trainer Ron Faucheux and owner Brittlyn Stable.

Darrell and Sadie Brommer’s talented Prado’s Sweet Ride, a graded stakes-winning 4-year-old daughter of Fort Prado, put in her third consecutive local work with a five-furlong move in 1:01.60. Trained the remainder of the year by Chris Block, the Illinois-bred is under the care of Richie Scherer this winter.

Swift stakes-winning turf sprinter Rapid Rhythm turned in another sharp move, working four furlongs in 48 flat. Trained by Mike Stidham, the daughter of Successful Appeal has won 4-of-7 in 2016, including the Oakley Stakes last out at Laurel.

Al and Bill Ulwelling’s Mike Biehler-trained Pumpkin Rumble, a stakes winner who is also graded takes placed, breezed an easy half-mile in 50.20.

Brereton C. Jones’ Larry Jones-trained multiple graded stakes-placed He’ll Pay, who exits a strong third in the Grade II Commonwealth Derby at Laurel Park, worked five furlongs in 1:01.40 ahead of his date with a Fair Grounds allowance event on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 24.

Swift Louisiana-bred stakes winner Calamity Jane turned on the jets on Saturday morning with a half-mile move in 47.60 for trainer Eddie Johnston and owner Keith Plaisance. The work was a bullet of 64 moves at the distance.

Graded stakes-placed allowance filly Divine Dawn worked five furlongs in 1:00.60 for trainer Larry Jones. Owned by Tommy Ligon and Michael Pressley, the daughter of Divine Park has hit the board in 10-of-14 starts, but is winless in four 2016 tries.