California Angel Back on Turf in Saturday’s Allen “Black Cat” Lacombe Memorial


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California Angel Back on Turf in Saturday’s Allen “Black Cat” Lacombe Memorial

Undefeated from two starts, New Year’s Eve the tepid 4-1 morning line favorite


(New Orleans, Louisiana – March 10, 2022) – Despite being the only graded stakes winner in the field, having taken down the Jessamine (G2) at Keeneland in October, Chris Walsh’s California Angel has been installed as the 8-1 seventh choice for Saturday’s $75,000 Allen “Black Cat” Lacombe Memorial at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots. The about one mile (rail 17 feet out) turf event attracted ten sophomore fillies, and it will go as race eight of nine at 5:10 p.m. CT.

A winner on debut over the Kentucky Downs turf at odds of 28-1, California Angel would return to the grass two starts later in the Jessamine (G2) at Keeneland. Once again disrespected at 17-1, she rallied from 12th in the field of 13 to get up by a head over Diamond Wow. It was just a neck back to Turnerloose, the recent winner of the Rachel Alexandra (G2) presented by Fasig-Tipton on Fair Grounds dirt.

The win in the Jessamine gave trainer George Leonard the license to try the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf (G1) at Del Mar, and although she finished 11th of 14, she was only beaten four lengths by the winner Pizza Bianca.

A recent fifth in the Untapable and tenth in the Rachel Alexandra, both on dirt, have darkened her form, but trainer George Leonard is confident the move back to the lawn will serve the daughter of California Chrome well.

“I’m happy to get her back on the grass,” Leonard said. “It wasn’t like we passed up any turf races, and I was honestly under the impression that she would well on the dirt. She works awesome on it. It’s different race time than it is in the morning. Going into the Rachel (Alexandra) we had this race in mind as a fallback plan in case she didn’t run well in there. She’s always been a longshot. I don’t feel like the (8-1) morning line is disrespectful. It’s what you do on the racetrack that counts. The proof is in the pudding. Win, lose or draw, after this race she’s going to get a break. She hasn’t had a break in too long.”

California Angel will break from post four with Deshawn Parker back aboard.

The 4-1 morning line favorite in the Lacombe Memorial is Marc Detampel’s New Year’s Eve. An off-the-pace winner of both of her career starts, the daughter of Kitten’s Joy will try to score a Fair Grounds hat trick with regular rider Adam Beschizza in tow for trainer Brendan Walsh.

The co-second choices at 5-1 are Wayne Sanders and Larry Hirsch’s Dreamworker for Joe Sharp and the filly she edged in allowance company last time, the Godolphin homebred Pearl Earring, who was narrowly beaten by New Year’s Eve in her most recent run for Mike Stidham. Reylu Gutierrez will guide Dreamworker from post seven and Brian Hernandez, Jr. will get a leg up on Pearl Earring from post five.

The remainder of the field with post, jockey/trainer and morning line odds: Steve Landers’ Mariah’s Fortune (post one, Marcelino Pedroza, Jr./Brad Cox, 6-1 ML), making her turf debut off a recent second behind Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) probable Bernabreezy on dirt; Stonesteet Stables’ Lolloping (post two, Colby Hernandez/Brad Cox, 6-1 ML), a neck winner on debut in a two-turn maiden special weight turf race; Joel Politti’s Kneesnhips (post three, James Graham/Tom Amoss, 6-1 ML), twice stakes placed on turf, including a third in the Chelsey Flower in what was her most recent start on November 6 at Belmont; Judy and J Kirk Robinson’s Luck Is Fickle (post six, Jareth Loveberry/Steve Asmussen, 12-1 ML), a romping winner in career start number two in what was her two-turn debut last out at Sam Houston; KMR Racing and Lynn Cassim’s Cecilita (post eight, Orlando Mojica/Kelly Rubley, 8-1 ML), who broke her maiden in a locally run “off the turf” sloppy track route in career start number five last out.

Fair Grounds will also host “Wiener Dog Racing” on Saturday.




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 15 off-track betting parlors throughout Southeast Louisiana. The 150th Thoroughbred Racing Season – highlighted by the 109th running of the Louisiana Derby – will run from November 25, 2021 through March 27, 2022. More information is available online at

Leonard George