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Barn Notes: Wednesday, January 18


·        Takeoff Looking To Do Just That in Lecomte

·        Wicked Lick Takes Her Shot in Silverbulletday

·        Running Mate Works Another Bullet, Tops Work Tab


The proverbial wise-guy play on the backstretch at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots for its upcoming first of three Kentucky Derby preps — Saturday’s Grade III $200,000 Lecomte Stakes — is easily John C. Oxley’s Mark Casse-trained Takeoff. Not only is the $550,000 OBS purchase trained by a conditioner whose barn has been doing exceedingly well since the holidays, but the dark bay son of Arch kept the riding services of leading rider Florent Geroux, who no doubt had his pick of mounts. Adding icing to the ‘now horse’ king cake is the Kentucky-bred’s recent training for the Lecomte, a spritely pair of bullet half-mile works in 47.80 — the latter a best of 135 on Jan. 14.

“We’re very happy with him,” said David Carroll, New Orleans-based assistant for the far-flung Casse crew. “We feel he’s moved forward from his last race and this race will tell us a bit more about which direction we go in.

“He’s a quick horse and shows us that in the mornings,” Carroll said of the work. “He’s always showed us talent from the very beginning and even before he ever ran. We were certainly disappointed with his second race that he lost, but maybe that was too soon back for him. Either way, he really took a step forward in his last race and every work seems to be better than the next since. He seems to have grown in confidence.”

Last out, in his third career attempt, the good-looking colt broke from the rail and never relinquished the lead in a gate-to-wire, visually impressive tally at the Lecomte’s mile and 70-yard trip. Such was the first time he had gone to the front in his triad of tries.

“We don’t see him on the lead in the Lecomte, but we think he’ll be nearby,” Carroll concluded. “We’ll leave it up to Florent and hopefully all will go well and we won’t have any hard-luck stories.”


While nearly all of the attention in Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots’ Listed $150,000 Silvebulletday Stakes  on Saturday — the first of three major Kentucky Oaks preps at the track that has produced more winners of the classic than any in the last decade — will be on the two high-profile fillies Farrell and Untapped, one would arguably be remiss if they forgot about Lee Mauberret’s Brendan Walsh-trained Wicked Lick. An improving sort, the daughter of Maclean’s Music was second last out to Untapped at the Silverbulletday’s course and mile and 70-yard distance in allowance company after a troubled trip.

“I think she’s done well and thought she ran well last time,” Walsh said. “I am not sure she would have won, but I thought she’d be closer if she didn’t get into trouble. If she moves up two or three lengths, it puts us right there.

“I really like that she galloped out great last time, so the further she goes, the better she’s going to get,” Walsh continued. “She’s one who gives everything every time, so hopefully she gets a clear run. We’ll hope for a clean smooth run and I’m sure she’ll give a good account of herself.”


Bret Jones’ homebred Running Mate once again touted himself for Saturday’ Grade III $200,000 Lecomte Stakes on Monday morning, when working a bullet for the third consecutive week. Six days prior, the Larry Jones-trained son of Creative Cause worked five furlongs in 59.60 in company with Jones’ stable star I’m a Chatterbox — a move which, itself, followed a half-mile in 47.20 on Jan. 4. Running Mate is 2-for-3 lifetime, including a pair of romps to commence his career and a third when demoted from second for interference last out when heavily favored in the $75,000 Sugar Bowl Stakes over this surface. The Lecomte, at a mile and 70 yards, will be his first try beyond six furlongs.

Aforementioned I’m a Chatterbox worked five easy furlongs on Monday in advance of her first try on grass Saturday in the $75,000 Marie G. Krantz Memorial over the Stall-Wilson turf course. The multiple Grade I-winning homebred earner of nearly $2.3 million went in 1:02 flat for Carolyn and Fletcher Gray. Chief Istan, owned and bred by Bret’s father Brereton C. Jones in partnership with Sagamore Farm, once again flashed considerable speed when working a half-mile in 48.20 for trainer Jones on Monday morning. The stakes-winning sprinter makes his 5-year-old bow in the $75,000 Duncan F. Kenner Stakes on Saturday over six furlongs.

Possible Kenner favorite Yockey’s Warrior went the same distance in 49 flat for trainer Al Stall, Jr., who co-owns the last-out stakes-winning son of Warrior’s Reward with Stewart Madison et al. Unraced since an impressive score over the Kenner’s conditions on Thanksgiving in the holiday’s namesake handicap, the improving 5-year-old was joined on the tab by Stall trainee Rocket Time, who went slightly quicker in 48.60. A graded stakes-placed local stakes winner owned by Frank Fletcher Racing Operations, the son of Tiz Wonderful is cross-entered in Saturday’s $75,000 Louisiana Stakes over 1 1/16 miles on the main track and the grassy Grade III $125,000 Col. E. R. Bradley over the same distance.

Another preparing for Saturday stakes action was Darrell and Sadie Brommer’s Prado’s Sweet Ride, who negotiated a half-mile in 49.80 with trainer Richie Scherer carefully observing the graded stakes-winning daughter of Fort Prado. The bay mare was a respectable third last out in the $75,000 Blushing K. D. Stakes over the same trip as Saturday’s $75,000 Krantz Memorial.

Quality older dirt fillies and mares this week were topped by multiple graded stakes-winning Wayne Catalano trainee Family Tree working toward her 4-year-old bow with a half-mile move in 48.40, Tuesday’s bullet for the distance. The Grade I-placed Gary and Mary West-owned daughter of Smart Strike is unraced since a victory in the $300,000 Zia Park Oaks on Nov. 23.

Family Tree shared the bullet with last-out local stakes winner Kathballu, who again showed her adoration for the local main track for owner-breeder Five-D Thoroughbreds and trainer Ken McPeek. A winner of two straight added-money events, she aired in the $75,000 Pan Zareta Stakes on New Year’s Eve.

Another last-out local stakes winner, Danzatrice signaled her fitness for owner Gainesway Farm and trainer Steve Asmussen, working five furlongs in a smart 1:00.40. The move was good for third-best of 21 works at the distance on Monday.