“Back in the Big Easy to Become a Millionaire,” Free Like a Girl Bags the Hebert

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  • Wire to Wire Was the Way for Vale Male in the Valene Memorial
  • Home Form Saratoga, Louisiana’s Own Clearly a Test Breaks Maiden in the Ferguson Stakes
  • Another phenomenal opening day for Patricia West, trainer of the place-finisher in all three Louisiana Champions Day Preview stakes

New Orleans, La (Nov. 17, 2023) – Opening day of the 152nd racing season at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots will forever be remembered as the day Free Like a Girl surpassed $1 million in career earnings. Overcoming a claustrophobic trip, the Louisiana Champion filly as both a 2-year-old and a 3-year-old spurted away from the field of 11 to win the $75,000 Doris Hebert Memorial by 3/4 length over a persistent Olivia G.  

Gerald Bruno, Jr., Chasey Pomier, and Jerry Caroom’s daughter of El Deal covered the 6 furlongs in 1:12.12 across a main track rated “good.” Even money was the reward for her backers in the win pool

Trained by Chasey Pomier, Free Like a Girl was piloted by Vicente Del Cid. Sticking her nose across the milestone threshold, the 4-year-old out the Flashy Bull mare Flashy Prize now boasts $1,006,578 in lifetime earnings and a career record of 31: 14-8-4. Free Like a Girl was bred by Kim Renee Stover & Lisa Osborne.

Wire to Wire Was the Way for Vale Male in the Valene Memorial

Though never having led the pack at any opening call in her first 13 races, D & S Stables’ Vale Male did just that and more to win the $75,000 John Valene Memorial wire-to-wire on Friday. Breaking sharply outside of seven older fillies and mares, the daughter of Bodemeister out of the Kantharos dam Wildwood Kantharos dropped down to occupy the vacancy and never looked back through the 1 mile 70 yards. Beating A G’s Charlotte by 3/4 lengths,  the 4-year-old stopped the clock at 1:45.20 to pay 9.50 – 1.

Trained by James “Sweets” Hodges, Vale Male received the heads-up services of jockey James Graham, who with this victory sits nine back from career win 3,000.  Bred by J. Adcock & Hume Wornall, Vale Male now tallies a career record of 14: 5-3-2 adding up to $172,440 in lifetime earnings.

Home From Saratoga, Louisiana’s Own Clearly a Test Breaks Maiden in the Ferguson Stakes

Louisiana-bred through and through, Brittlyn Stables’ homebred Clearly a Test returned home from her summer racing at Saratoga to break her maiden in the $75,000 Donovan L. Ferguson Memorial. Drawn inside against a field of 14 juvenile fillies, the daughter of Clearly Now hit the gate and had to fight her way from near the back in the 5 1/2-furlong dirt sprint under jockey Jose Guerrero. Advancing along the rail, it wasn’t until the far turn that she boldly maneuvered to the outside, but once she did her talented kick moved her to the front of the 2021 class. Sealing the deal in 1:06.95, Clearly a Test beat out Tommie G by 1 1/2 lengths, paying 1.60 as the post-time favorite.

Trained by Shane Wilson, the daughter of Clearly Now out of the Star Guitar dam Testing One Two is now 4:1-0-0 with $63,900 in earnings. 

Follow this link for the full results and payouts of the three opening day stakes: https://www.equibase.com/static/chart/summary/RaceCardIndexFG111723USA-EQB.html


Post Race Interviews

Connections of the Doris Hebert winner, Free Like a Girl

Jockey, Vincente Del Cid

“She was in tight but a hole opened and she went right through. She is a really, really nice filly.”

Trainer and part-owner, Chasey Pomier

“We went over every number, every horse, everything. We did not make a decision on whether to run (in the sprint or the route stakes) until 9:45 a.m. this morning. We knew there would be competition either way, so we took a shot in the sprint. (Reaching one million dollars in lifetime earnings) has been a long time coming. I’ve been doing this since I was a little girl. We’re enjoying the ride. She makes it easy. She makes my life, my job, everything so easy. Doris Hebert meant so much to me, that makes this a special one to win.”

Connections of the John Valene winner, Vale Male

Jockey, James Graham

“I saw the break. I was hoping somebody would leave me the lead. Nobody went and I took advantage of it. Stole a length here and there where I could, and she prevailed at the wire. She was pretty fresh. Sweets told me usually when she’s quiet, she runs good.”

Trainer, James “Sweets” Hodges

“She started being a really good filly the first of the year. Then she chipped a knee in March. We sent her to Kentucky, and they took the chip out. We run her one time, and then I worked her here one time. I told James she might get a little heavy near the end, but the good lord blessed us. She’s a good horse.”

Connections of the Donovan L. Ferguson winner, Clearly a Test

Jockey, Jose Guerrero

“We missed the break just a little bit. But she put her feet on the ground and took off. I got a little room between the other horses, but she showed us her best when she got to the outside there. She got clear and just took off.”

Trainer, Shane Wilson

“They were always high on this horse when they broke her at the farm. That’s why she was at Saratoga this summer. We compared the numbers of what she was running up there to what stakes-winners have been running down here, and we saw that she fit. We wanted to try to get  a stakes win for Clearly Now with breeding season coming up. It’s another feather in the cap for the stallion.”

Owner, Evelyn Benoit

“They told me in New York she is the real thing. I own Clearly Now the dad and then the mother is a Star Guitar mare, so this is a real Louisiana breeders’ dream come true. I knew eventually a Clearly Now would show us the light because he is a track record-holder in New York and in Florida. She’s such a fast, exciting racer to do what she did and get out of that tight spot. She really turned it on.”


About Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots

Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, one of the nation’s oldest racetracks, has been in operation since 1872. Located in New Orleans, LA, Fair Grounds, which is owned by Churchill Downs Incorporated (NASDAQ Global Select Market: CHDN), also operates a slot-machine gaming facility and 16 off-track betting parlors throughout Southeast Louisiana. The 152nd Thoroughbred Racing Season–highlighted by the 111th running of the Louisiana Derby–will run from Nov. 17, 2023 through March 24, 2024. More information is available online at www.fgno.com.




Free Like A Girl horse racing at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots