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Derby Deadlines Descend on New Orleans Saturday

Headlines for Friday, January 23, 2009

  • Derby Deadlines Descend on New Orleans Saturday
  • Early Look at Grade III Risen Star
  • Robby's Recent Run Moves Him Up Local Leader Board
  • Jessica Takes a Bite of the Big Apple This Weekend


Derby Deadlines Descend on New Orleans Saturday

NEW ORLEANS, La. - It's deadline time for horsemen both locally and nationally. Nominations to the $200,000 Grade III Risen Star Stakes Feb. 7 - as well as the five other stakes on Louisiana Derby Preview Day - close this Saturday.

In addition to the Risen Star, the final prep for the Grade II $600,000 Louisiana Derby March 14, other local Grade III races on Preview Day include the $150,000 Silverbulletday for 3-year-old fillies, the $125,000 Fair Grounds Handicap for older horses on the grass and the $125,000 Mineshaft Handicap for older horses on the main track.

Other stakes on Louisiana Derby Preview Day are the $75,000 Colonel Power Stakes for older grass sprinters and the $75,000 Pan Zareta Stakes for older fillies and mares on the main track.

That's not the only major nomination deadline of the weekend. Churchill Downs racing secretary Ben Huffman has been in Fair Grounds' barn area this week and will remain through Saturday soliciting Triple Crown nominations, which also close Saturday.


Early Look at Grade III Risen Star

Friesan Fire, Patena and Au Moon, first second and third respectively in Fair Grounds' Grade III Lecomte Stakes Jan. 10, are all expected to run back in the Risen Star at this time.

Now expected to join those in the Risen Star is the Ken McPeek-trained Theregoesjojo, who easily bested rivals in an allowance race at Gulfstream on Lecomte Day Jan. 10, as well as the Chris Block-conditioned Giant Oak, runner-up by a neck in Churchill's Grade II Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes Nov. 29.

Prior to his recent Gulfstream win, Theregoesjojo finished fourth as the favorite in Churchill's Grade III Bashford Manor Stakes last July 5, but was forced to steady sharply at the furlong marker.

Giant Oak will breeze Saturday morning at Fair Grounds under the watchful eye of his trainer, who is in town briefly from his Hawthorne headquarters to supervise the move.

"He's a big horse who has been coming along well so far this year," said Block.  "We thought he gave a good account of himself in his last race at Churchill, and we hope he'll continue to move forward.

 "I told the owners that he doesn't have to win this next race coming up," Block said.  "If he finishes second or third we'd be very happy, as long as we continue to think he's moving forward."

 Patena breezed five-eighths Wednesday in 1:01.80 at Fair Grounds.


Robby's Recent Run Moves Him Up Local Leader Board

How about the fantastic week six-time Fair Grounds riding champion Robby Albarado enjoyed before racing resumed Thursday at the Crescent City oval? 

Two wins last Saturday, four more on Sunday and three more on Monday.  It was enough to leapfrog Albarado from sixth to third in the local jockey standings, and following Thursday's races, when Albarado rode still another winner, Albarado was third in the standings, one tick off a tie for the second spot and six wins off the pace of current Fair Grounds leader James Graham.

 Albarado's Thursday win came for Mark Guidry, eight months after that former jockey saddled the first winner of his career as a trainer, and two months after he saddled his first win as a trainer at Fair Grounds.

Guidry, who rode 5,043 winners during his time as a jockey, now has three wins in his new career following Thursday's second race, when Bert Huval's Theodore Ways tallied for Guidry under Albarado.

 "How about the way my man Robby rode that horse?" said a jubilant Guidry Thursday.  "He's something else."

Albarado, like Guidry, hails from Cajun country, and is a longtime friend and former peer of Guidry, who ranks 22nd on the list of North America's all-time leading riders.

Guidry originally planned to become a steward following his retirement from the saddle, but has quickly gravitated into training horses. 

 "At first it was only one horse," Guidry explained, "but more and more of my friends started calling me asking me about training others, and now I'm up to 19 horses.

 "But I love it," said Guidry of his new career.  "It's seven days a week, but it's a lot of fun and I can't think of any place I'd rather be than on the racetrack."


Jessica Takes a Bite of the Big Apple This Weekend

It's billed as "Jess and the City" on the New York OTB website, advertising the fact that Fair Grounds' television personality Jessica Pacheco will be making appearances at New York OTB Sunday and Monday.

After taping Saturday's Fair Grounds morning show with co-host John Dooley, Pacheco will fly to New York Saturday afternoon and appear Sunday at New York City OTB from 1-3 p.m. EST at The Winner's Circle and from 3:30-6 p.m. EST at The Inside Track.

Sunday morning, Pacheco will appear on OTB's "Out of the Gate" television show along with Dan Illman and Peter Rotondo to preview the Fair Grounds races that day.

 On Monday afternoon, with a dark day at Aqueduct, Pacheco will again be on the NYC OTB channel, providing analysis throughout the Fair Grounds card.

"The idea is that I will be talking to people who would normally be betting only on-track in New York," Pacheco said.  "Hopefully, we'll be able to get them more interested in the Fair Grounds signal and they'll start betting on our races as well."