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Notes: Justin Phillip, Dreamsrunwild Get Lecomte Preps

Zayat Stables’ Justin Phillip and Sandra Duke’s Dreamsrunwild both breezed five furlongs Monday morning at  Fair Grounds in preparation for the upcoming Grade III Lecomte Stakes, headline attraction and one of six races scheduled for the Road to the Derby Kickoff Day Presented by Hotel Monteleone program now less than two weeks away on Jan. 22.

The Lecomte, first leg of the Crescent City oval’s 3-year-old series that continues with the Grade II Risen Star Stakes Feb. 19 and concludes with the $1 million Grade II Louisiana Derby March 26, carries a purse of $100,000 and will be run at one mile and 40 yards. Vinery Stables and Fox Hill Farm’s Friesan Fire swept the New Orleans sophomore series two years ago and then went to the post as the favorite in that year’s Kentucky Derby based on those local scores.

On Monday, Justin Phillip, conditioned by defending Eclipse Award-winning trainer Steve Asmussen, went the five-eighths over a track rated “good” in 1:02.20, while Dreamsrunwild, trained by Steven Duke, accomplished his move in 1:03.

“I was real happy with his work,” said Duke shortly after Dreamsrunwild’s move. “The track was a little heavy (after sporadic heavy showers in New Orleans Sunday) but he got the last eighth in 12 flat and that was what I was looking for, so I think we’ll go ahead and shoot for the Lecomte.”

SOPHOMORE FILLY SERIES BEGINS WITH SILVERBULLETDAY STAKES – Following some name changes to Fair Grounds’ series for 3-year-old fillies, the initial event for members of the distaff set is the $100,000 Silverbulletday Stakes on Road to the Derby Kickoff Day and that stakes threesome will continue with the Grade III Rachel Alexandra Stakes on Feb. 19 and conclude with the Grade II Fair Grounds Oaks on March 26.

Slapshot Racing’s Seans Silverdancer, a gray daughter of Najran trained by Lisa Merritt, breezed five furlongs Monday morning in 1:00.40 as a possible candidate for the Silverbulletday, and Carl Moore’s Grandacious, trained by Bret Calhoun, is also now possible for that upcoming filly fixture.

GRADE III COL. E. R. BRADLEY HANDICAP KICKS OFF GRASS SERIES – Presented as the second of two graded stakes on Road to the Derby Kickoff Day Jan. 22 is the 25th anniversary edition of the Grade III Col. E. R. Bradley Handicap, slated to be run at about 1 1/16-miles over Fair Grounds’ Stall-Wilson turf course.

The local turf troika will be continued with the Grade III Fair Grounds Handicap Feb. 19 at about nine furlongs and conclude with the Grade II Mervin H. Muniz Jr. Memorial Handicap March 26, also at about 1 1/8-miles over the local lawn.

Among those under consideration for the Col. Bradley ’Cap are Pin Oak Stable’s Strike Again, winner of the $60,000 Buddy Diliberto Memorial Handicap here Dec. 4; Darrell and Lendy Brown’s Valli With a Vow, heroine of the $60,000 Pago Hop on that same day; Steve Hartman’s Snakebite Kit, winner of the $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Turf Dec. 11; and Team Block’s Amazing Results, winner of Hawthorne’s Grade III Carey Memorial Handicap Oct. 2.

UPCOMING LOUISIANA HANDICAP TAKING SHAPE – Adele Dilschneider’s Apart, hero of Louisiana Downs’ Grade III Super Derby last Sept. 25 and Churchill’s Grade III Ack Ack Handicap Nov. 5, and Jim Tafel’s Country Flavor, winner of Arlington Park’s Grade III Hanshin Cup last Sept. 4 and most recently winner of Fair Grounds’ $60,000 Tenacious Handicap Dec. 18, head the list of possible candidates for Fair Grounds’ 65th running of the $60,000 Louisiana Handicap for older horses on Road to the Derby Kickoff Day Jan. 22.

Country Flavor breezed five furlongs on Monday in 1:01.80 in preparation for the Louisiana Handicap.

Others possible for the Louisiana Handicap are Zayat Stable’s Z Humor, who missed by a neck as runner-up in the Tenacious ‘Cap, and David Holloway Racing’s Dubious Miss, third in the Tenacious but winner of Keeneland’s Grade III Ben Ali Handicap last spring.

The Louisiana Handicap previews the Grade III Mineshaft Handicap for older horses – also on the main track – on Louisiana Derby Preview Day Feb. 19. The Mineshaft sets up the Grade II New Orleans Handicap over the main track on Louisiana Derby Day March 26.