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Maximus Ruler Gets Sunday Breeze for Saturday's Risen Star

Don Benge’s Maximus Ruler, runner-up in Fair Grounds’ Grade III Lecomte Jan. 23 after inheriting an unwanted pacesetting scenario, breezed five furlongs in 1:02.60 Sunday morning in preparation for next Saturday’s Grade II Risen Star Stakes as the showcase race on Louisiana Derby Preview Day.

“The idea is to get him to relax,” said trainer Clark Hanna, “so we broke him off at the half-mile pole this morning, let him go to the seven-eighths and then let him gallop out the rest of the way on his own. He came back bucking and squealing so we might want to send him out again to go a quarter-mile on Thursday just to keep him relaxed.

“I’d really like to see some speed in Saturday’s race to give him something to run at,” said Hanna. “The last time (in the Lecomte) we thought there was a speed horse in there (Cool Bullet) but then they took him back and we ended up on the lead. (Maximus Ruler) is not going to be able to go 46 and change (his half split in the Lecomte) and still win this race Saturday, but we think we can get him to improve off of that.”

Saturday’s $300,000 Risen Star Stakes serves as the final designed local prep for the Grade II Louisiana Derby March 27, which with its new higher purse of $750,000 will be the richest Thoroughbred race ever run in Louisiana.

Giant Oak in Sunday Move Toward Saturday’s Mineshaft Handicap
Virginia Tarra’s Giant Oak, absent from competition since finishing fourth beaten a length-and-a-quarter for the win in Churchill’s Grade II Clark Handicap Nov. 27, breezed five furlongs Sunday morning in 1:01.60 in preparation for Saturday’s Grade III Mineshaft Handicap.

“He couldn’t have worked any better,” said trainer Neil Pessin. “He went easy the first part of it and then picked it up in the last quarter. I got him doing that in (23.40). He came out of it great and couldn’t be doing any better right now.”

Giant Oak is set to challenge last year’s Louisiana Derby winner Friesan Fire and last year’s Blue Grass winner General Quarters in the Mineshaft. Those two veterans of last spring’s Kentucky Derby and last spring’s Preakness finished first and second, respectively, in Fair Grounds’ Louisiana Handicap Jan. 23.

Saturday’s Mineshaft also serves as the final major designed local prep for Fair Grounds’ upcoming Grade II New Orleans Handicap March 27.

Quiet Temper Get’s Valentine’s Day Breeze for Saturday’s Silverbulletday Stakes
Mark Stanley’s Quiet Temper, who disappointed as the favorite when fifth in Fair Grounds’ Tiffany Lass Stakes as the first leg of the local oval’s three-race series for sophomore fillies, breezed five furlongs in 1:01.80 Sunday morning in preparation for Saturday’s Grade III Silverbulletday Stakes, second leg of the series that concludes with the Grade II Fair Grounds Oaks on March 26.

Four of the last Fair Grounds Oaks winners have gone on to win the Grade I Kentucky Oaks later in the spring.

Get Rich Quick, Secret Getaway Get Pre-Fair Grounds Handicap Breezes Sunday
Pin Oak Stable’s Get Rich Quick, runner-up in Fair Grounds’ Grade III Colonel E. R. Bradley Jan. 23, breezed five-eighths in 1:02.20 Sunday morning in preparation for Saturday’s Grade III Fair Grounds Handicap.

Sand & Cee Stables’ Secret Getaway, suddenly a strong possibility for the Fair Grounds Handicap, went the same distance in 1:00.60 after finishing fourth in the Louisiana Handicap on the main track last time Jan. 23.

The Fair Grounds Handicap is the designed final local prep for the Grade II Mervin Muniz Memorial March 27.

Four Gifts, Coy Cat Prepare for Saturday’s $60,000 Pan Zareta Stakes with Valentine’s Day Breezes
Peter Redekop’s Four Gifts and Jay Em Ess Stable’s Coy Cat both breezed Sunday in preparation for their probable starts in Saturday’s 44th running of the $60,000 Pan Zareta Stakes for fillies and mares at six furlongs.

Coy Cat, second in Fair Grounds’ $75,000 Dr. Leggio Memorial Jan 23, breezed a half in 52, and Four Gifts, who won Churchill’s Grade III Eight Belles on Kentucky Derby Day last spring,  went five-eighths in 1:00.60

Others now likely for the Pan Zareta are Virginia Kraft Payson’s Powder Princess, Goldmark’s Double Expresso, Winchell Thoroughbreds’ Simplify, and Mark Stanley’s Trusty Temper.

Grand Traverse, Turfiste Both Breeze Sunday for Saturday’s $60,000 Colonel Power Stakes
Mimicry Partnership’s Grand Traverse and Walts David Stable’s Turfiste – both trained by Tim Glyshaw – breezed Sunday morning prior to their expected starts in Saturday’s 23rd running of the $60,000 Colonel Power Stakes at about five-and-one-half furlongs over the Stall-Wilson turf course.

Grand Traverse went four furlongs in 47.60 and Turfiste went five furlongs in 1:01.4. The two finished first and fourth, respectively, in Fair Grounds’ $60,000 Bonapaw Stakes Dec. 19, and Grand Traverse since returned to run third in the local oval’s $75,000 Gaudin Memorial Jan. 23.

Others expected for the Colonel Power are Carl Moore Management’s Chamberlain Bridge, who won this race last year, Richard, Bertram and Elaine Klein’s troika of Country Day, Due Date and Early Return, as well as Mike McCarty’s Storm Treasure.