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Kathmanblu, Apart, Loup Breton Favored in Saturday's Trio of Grade III Stakes

In the Crescent City, said to have served as the birthplace of the deliciously decadent Marie Laveau, two Thoroughbred 3-year-olds with the possibly prurient names of Rogue Romance and Mucho Macho Man will face off in Saturday’ Grade II Risen Star Stakes Presented by Lamarque Ford at Fair Grounds. The 1 1/16-mile contest is the final prep race for New Orleans’ Grade II Louisiana Derby five weeks later.

Rogue Romance, owned by Catesby Clay, is unraced since finishing third in Churchill’s Grade I Breeders’ Cup Juvenile last fall but has been pegged as the slight 3-1 choice in the Risen Star morning line, but Mucho Macho Man, owned by Reeves Thoroughbred Racing and Dream Team 1 Racing, finished fourth in the Grade III Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Jan. 30 and has been installed as the strong second choice at 4-1.

The top two choices both accomplished maintenance moves at Gulfstream Feb. 12 and will journey from South Florida to New Orleans later this week.

Eight other sophomore colts with connections dreaming of the $1 million Louisiana Derby March 26 and the Kentucky Derby beyond that on May 7 are set to challenge the two favorites Saturday in this weekend’s showcase race. However, there are also five other important stakes races scheduled on the same gala program.

All morning line odds below are provided by Fair Grounds oddsmaker Mike Diliberto.

KATHMANBLU, BOUQUET BOOTH VIE IN GRADE III RACHEL ALEXANDRA STAKES – Seven 3-year-old fillies are set to match strides in Saturday’s Grade III Rachel Alexandra Stakes, final designed preview of potential contestants in the Grade II Fair Grounds Oaks March 26. For the first time this race bears the name of the 2009 Horse of the Year and 2009 Fair Grounds Oaks winner who retired last fall.

Five D Thoroughbreds and Wind River Stables’ Kathmanblu, 8 1/2-length heroine of Churchill’s Grade II Golden Rod Stakes last fall and most recently clearly the winner of Gulfstream’s $100,000 Sweetest Chant Stakes Jan. 22, is the strong 6-5 morning line favorite for the Rachel Alexandra, with French-born jockey Julien Leparoux named astride.

Right Time Racing’s Bouquet Booth, winner of Fair Grounds’ $98,000 Silverbulletday Stakes Jan. 22 and Delta Downs’ Grade III Delta Princess last fall, is considered to be the main challenger at 7-2 in the early line and will have the riding services of Fair Grounds’ defending jockey champion Shaun Bridgmohan.

Others named to the Rachel Alexandra Stakes are: William Sanders and Larry Hirsch’s Gran Lioness, Jamie Theriot (5-1); Courtlandt Farms’ Chloe Kate, Corey Lanerie (10-1); Donver Stable’s Inglorious, Chantel Sutherland (5-1); Kirk Robison’s Tapit Dancer, James Graham (10-1); and James Covello, Judy Hicks and Kathryn Nikkel’s Lilacs and Lace, Mike Smith (12-1).

SUPER DERBY WINNER, LOUISIANA DERBY HERO MEET IN MINESHAFT HANDICAP – Last year’s Grade II Super Derby winner Apart, owned by Adele Dilschneider, and 2010 Grade II Louisiana Derby hero Mission Impazible, owned by Twin Creeks Racing Stable, are set to match strides in Saturday’s Grade III Mineshaft Handicap at Fair Grounds.

Apart, the 2-1 early choice in the morning line, will be ridden by Jesse Campbell with 120 pounds, while 3-1 second choice Mission Impazible gets 118 pounds and the riding services of Rajiv Maragh.

Completing the Mineshaft field is the Jim Tafel-owned coupling of Fast Alex (114) , Shaun Bridgmohan and Country Flavor (118), Shane Sellers (both at 6-1); Amerman Racing Stable’s Demarcation (119), Rosie Napravnik (7-2); Michael Stinson’s Le Grand Cru (115), Jamie Theriot (12-1); Zayat Stables’ Z Humor (115), Gerard Melancon (10-1); Cudney Stables and John Gunther’s Midnight Mischief (113), Julien Leparoux (12-1); and Bonnie Heath Farm et al.’s Mad Flatter (114), James Graham (12-1).

IRISH-BRED LOUP BRETON FAVORED ON GRASS IN FAIR GROUNDS HANDICAP – Irish-bred Loup Breton, the Wildenstein Stable color bearer who finished third by a neck in Churchill Downs’ Grade I Woodford Reserve Turf Classic on Kentucky Derby Day last spring, has been installed as the 3-1 choice in Saturday s’ Grade III Fair Grounds Handicap over the Stall-Wilson turf course and gets in with 120 pounds including jockey Rajiv Maragh.

Other in the Fair Grounds Handicap are: David Holloway’s Dubious Miss (117), Corey Lanerie (8-1); Michael Stinson’s Le Grand Cru (116), Jamie Theriot (20-1); Alex and JoAnn Lieblong’s Telling (122), Mike Smith (6-1); Feel the Thunder Stable’s Gran Estreno (121), James Graham (5-1); George and Lori Hall’s Sleepless Knight (116), Joe Bravo (8-1); Cudney Stables’ and John Gunther’s Midnight Mischief (116), Julien Leparoux (12-1); Henry Pabst’s Joinem (115), Shaun Bridgmohan (10-1); Estrorace’s Workin for Hops (118), Rosie Napravnik (9-2); W. S. Farish’s Hidden Glance (115), Brian Hernandez Jr. (20-1); Millennium Farms and Mike McCarty’s Expansion (118), Gerard Melancon (15-1); and Rose Mary Chandler’s Skip a Smile (113), Eddie Martin Jr. (30-1).

TWO SPRINTS COMPLETE SATURDAY’S STAKES SEXTET – The 24th running of the $60,000 Colonel Power Stakes at about 5 1/ 2 furlongs over the Stall-Wilson turf course and the 44th renewal of the $60,000 Pan Zareta Stakes for older fillies and mares on the main track complete Saturday’s stakes sextet at Fair Grounds.

Named to the Colonel Power Stakes are the favored Steve Margolis-trained coupling of Due Date and Cash Refund at 8-5 in the morning line; Delano, (6-1); Sweetsouthernmoon (8-1); Royal Express (10-1); Don’t Shoot (10-1); Strike Impact (8-1); Southern Region, (8-1); and Mambo Galliano (7-2).

From the rail out in the Pan Zareta Stakes are:  Moontune Missy (3-1); Simplify (7-2); Eagle Putt (8-1); Smoky Belle (6-1); Greeley’s Rocket (8-1); Wild About Marie (5-1); Hello Monday (12-1); and Beautician (4-1).