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Lecomte-bound Citrus Kid Happy to Be in Louisiana

Local authorities normally frown on attempts to ship Florida citrus to Louisiana, but when it comes to shipping the highly regarded 3-year-old Citrus Kid from South Florida’s Palm Meadows training center to Fair Grounds for Saturday’s Grade II Lecomte Stakes as the centerpiece event of its “Road to the Derby Kickoff Day” program – nobody has a problem with that.

Following a bullet breeze Tuesday at Palm Meadows accomplished in 1:00.85, Citrus Kid was loaded on a van for New Orleans later in the day and was surely feeling his oats Thursday morning during training hours at Fair Grounds.

“This is a very nice horse,” said assistant trainer Reynaldo Abreu, who accompanied Citrus Kid to Fair Grounds for trainer John Terranova II, “and he’s also a very happy horse right now. He’s been training very well, and his last two works have been unbelievable. He went to the track this morning and he was looking around taking it all in. He was happy and squealing the whole time he was out there. Sometimes after a 10-hour van ride, a horse can look a little dull, but he stepped off feeling really good. Later, we will take him to the paddock in the afternoon for schooling.”

Citrus Kid, a son of 1999 Belmont Stakes winner Lemon Drop Kid, won the $75,000 Dover Stakes at Delaware Park last Oct. 10 and then ran third in Aqueduct’s Grade II Remsen in his most recent start Nov. 28.  He is listed as the fifth choice in the Lecomte morning line at 8-1.

Terranova, 39, was born in Syosset, New York and still resides there. He saddled Shadow Caster to win the Grade II Forego Handicap at Saratoga at odds of 50-1, and in 2000 saddled Gander to finish second in Belmont’s Grade I Jockey Club Gold Cup and third in the Grade I Woodward Stakes.

Abreu began working for Terranova last month. Previously, he served as a longtime assistant to Hall of Fame trainer Nick Zito and then went out on his own to train some horses for Marylou Whitney.

Good and Lucky – Again in Saturday’s Louisiana Handicap?
He’s probably been more good than lucky over the past year – especially at Fair Grounds – so Laconian Racing Stable, Steve Organ and Josie Carroll’s Good and Lucky has finally been shouldered with the favorite’s mantle at 9-5 in the morning line for Saturday’s $75,000 Louisiana Handicap.

He won the 2009 Louisiana Handicap at better than 9-1 and was clearly second best in last year’s Grade III Mineshaft Handicap at almost 8-1, but despite those performances Good and Lucky was still not the favorite when he won this season’s $59,000 Tenacious Handicap by almost two lengths.

“For some reason, he just flourishes when he gets down here,” said Ruth Schmidt, assistant to Good and Lucky’s part owner and trainer Josie Carroll during training hours Thursday morning. “He just keeps responding for us, and he’s been training very well coming into this race.

“He’s become a lot more versatile as he’s gotten older,” said Schmidt of the 7-year-old gelding. “You used to have to go to the lead with him, but in recent times he has learned to relax. We gave him a nice gallop earlier in the week, so now all we have to do is lead him over Saturday. We’re ready to rock ‘n’ roll.”

Sand & Cee Stables’ Secret Getaway, second to Good and Lucky in this season’s Tenacious but the winner over that rival in last year’s renewal, is the second choice at 5-2 in Saturday’s Louisiana Handicap morning line.

“I was happy with his comeback race (in this season’s Tenacious),” said trainer Mike Stidham on Thursday morning. “I think he fits very well in this race.”

However, also entered in Saturday’s Louisiana Handicap is last year’s Grade II Louisiana Derby winner Friesan Fire, owned by Vinery Stable and Fox Hill Farms and conditioned by two-time Eclipse Award winning trainer Steve Asmussen, as well as last spring’s Grade I Blue Grass winner General Quarters, owned (and trained) by Tom McCarthy. Both those rivals are veterans of last year’s Kentucky Derby and Preakness but both were taken out of training for surgery following the middle jewel of the Triple Crown.

Following long layoffs, Friesan Fire returned to finish third behind Good and Lucky in a $100,000 optional claiming race at Fair Grounds Dec. 3 and is 3-1 in Saturday’s Louisiana Handicap morning line, while General Quarters came back to finish second in another optional claiming race at Fair Grounds Dec. 26 and is 6-1 in Saturday’s Louisiana Handicap renewal.

Saturday’s Grade III Col. E. R. Bradley Lures El Caballo Out of Long Layoff
Saturday’s $100,000 Col. E. R. Bradley Stakes – like Saturday’s $100,000 Lecomte – is a Grade III race, but the Col. Bradley is run over Fair Grounds’ Stall-Wilson turf course and has attracted the connections of James Spence’s El Caballo, who has been installed as the 2-1 choice in the morning line.

“It’s taken a long time to get him back to a race,” said trainer Ralph Nicks Saturday morning. “He suffered a condylar fracture in his left front last spring, so I’m not sure exactly how far he’s come back. I know I   wouldn’t want to run him if the race were taken off the grass. I wouldn’t want to take a chance on an off track with that leg of his after that injury.”

On Feb. 15 last season, El Caballo won an allowance optional claiming race at Fair Grounds over muddy going in a race originally scheduled for the grass, and Nicks used that race to propel his charge to a runner-up nose loss to Proudinsky in the Grade II Mervin Muniz Memorial on the grass. Proudinsky, conditioned by the late Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel, became the first two time winner of the Muniz Memorial with that tally.

Also in Saturday’s Col. Bradley at 8-1 in the morning line is Darley Stable’s Tybalt, who was formerly trained by Frankel.

“When word of Bobby’s illness first started leaking out last year, Darley sent (Tybalt) to me,” said new trainer Mike Stidham Thursday. “He was training really well for me so I ran him in a race at Keeneland (Oct. 16), but the track came up really soft and he didn’t like it at all. I won’t run him Saturday if the track isn’t at least somewhat firm.”

2008 Triple Crown Veteran Denis of Cork Retired
Mr. and Mrs. William Warren’s Denis of Cork, third in the 2008 Kentucky Derby and second in that year’s Belmont, has been retired, trainer David Carroll said Thursday afternoon.

“Denis of Cork is currently out of training, and plans are being made for the next stage of his career,” said Carroll. “He suffered a soft tissue injury to his right front foreleg and it has not responded to treatment.”

The son of Harlan’s Holiday won the second race of his career at Fair Grounds two years ago and was then sent to Arkansas where he captured Oaklawn’s Grade III Southwest Stakes by two and a quarter lengths.

Denis of Cork’s last recorded work was at Fair Grounds Jan. 4, where he breezed five furlongs in 1:01.80.

Fair Grounds Reinstates Superfecta Along with Super Hi-5 on Last Race of Day Beginning Saturday
Fair Grounds has announced that beginning this Saturday, in time for Road to the Derby Kickoff Day, there will be Superfecta wagering along with Super Hi-5 Wagering on the last race of the day.

Fair Grounds began its 2009-2010 Thoroughbred Racing Season Presented by Miller Lite with Superfecta wagering on the final race of the day, but dropped it in that race after introducing Super Hi-5 wagering Dec. 26.

Both wagers will now be offered beginning Jan. 23. In a Superfecta wager, handicappers must pick the first four finishers in order on the same ticket, while in the Super Hi-5, handicappers must pick the first five finishers in order on the same ticket. However, the Super Hi-5 is a $1-minimum wager, while the Superfecta can be played in dime increments.