Dominant Texas Turf Mile Champ Neat Headlines $100,000 Black Gold Stakes

Contact: Kevin Kilroy
Media Relations
[email protected]
  • A field of 12 3-year-old males sign on as Fair Grounds will celebrate the 100th Anniversary of Black Gold becoming the first Louisiana Derby champion to go on and win the Kentucky Derby
  • Led by Behemah Star, Wilson Enters Trio of Repeat Meet Winners in Edward J. Johnston 
  • Division Newcomer Highly Wicked Looks to Stay Perfect on Turf in Red Camela

New Orleans, La (Feb. 29, 2024) – Red White and Blue Racing’s Texas Turf Mile champion Neat returns to Fair Grounds as the 3-1 morning line favorite to take on 11 3-year-old rivals in the $100,000 Black Gold Stakes at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots. The 66th running of the event will celebrate the 100th anniversary of Black Gold becoming the first Louisiana Derby champion to go on and win the Kentucky Derby.

Scheduled as the penultimate contest on Saturday’s 10-race card, post time for the about 1 1/16 miles Black Gold Stakes is 5:17 p.m. (all times Central). The finale of three stakes to be run over Fair Grounds’ Stall-Wilson turf course will be proceeded by the $100,000 Edward J. Johnston for older statebred males going about one mile (Race 7, 4:10 p.m.) and its filly and mare counterpart, the $100,000 Red Camela Stakes (Race 5, 3:06 p.m.). The portable rail will be set at 14 feet.

After an impressive allowance win over the local grass course in November, trainer Rob Atras decided to see how Neat’s form played out across the main track against top Derby-dreaming juveniles in the Gun Runner. After finishing 20 lengths back in sixth to Track Phantom, the Constitution colt returned to the sod and scored a 5 1/2 length win in the Texas Turf Mile at Sam Houston Park. A half-sibling to graded stakes-placed turf-specialist Louder Than Bombs, Neat is out of the unraced More Than Ready mare Orabella. Rey Gutierrez returns to the irons and will break the tactical Neat from post 10.

DJ Stable and Cash is King’s Can Group also failed his Kentucky Derby trail dirt test, finishing last of six to Track Phantom in January’s Lecomte (G3). Trained by Mark Casse, the Good Samaritan colt followed up his win in the Bourbon (G3) with a strong fourth-place run in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1), where he rallied from the back but was unable to catch the two-headed Aidan O’Brien monster of Unquestionable and Mountain Bear. With two local half-mile drills under his belt since the Lecomte, including a sharp :48 and 2 on Feb. 23 (17th fastest of 102), Can Group will be reunited with the current meet-leading jockey Jareth Loveberry and break from post 5.

Four of the 12 colts entered in the Black Gold exit a last-out local win. Top among them are Godolphin’s Ocean Victory and International Equine’s St. Armands Key. Never having faced winners, both were made 6-1 in the morning line by track clocker and oddsmaker Mike Diliberto. Trained by Joe Sharp, St. Armands Key got the best of Ocean Victory when wiring the field to break his maiden on Nov. 25. Whereas the $15,000 son of Lost Treasure has not raced since, Ocean Victory followed up his debut with game second-place finish before making the third time the charm on Jan. 21 for trainer Brendan Walsh.

Fair Grounds will mark the 100-year anniversary of Black Gold’s Louisiana Derby victory with a proper celebration including his connections’ family in attendance. Rosa Hoots became the first woman to have bred and owned a Kentucky Derby winner when Black Gold won the Run for the Roses in 1924. A member of the Osage Nation of Oklahoma, Hoots bred her 34-time-winning race mare U-See-It with the stallion Black Toney, which produced a jet-black foal that she named “Black Gold.” The first horse ever to win the derbies of four different states, Black Gold was elected to the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1989.

“Black Gold was the first Louisiana Derby champion to go on and win the Kentucky Derby,” said director of racing Jason Boulet. “Not only did he break his maiden at Fair Grounds but he is also buried in our infield. Our tradition is for the winning jockey of the Black Gold Stakes to place flowers on his grave. We’re proud to run a stake in his honor every year, but it will be all the more special having his owner’s family with us at Fair Grounds to celebrate the 100-year anniversary of his historic achievement.”

Here is the field for the Black Gold in order of post positions (with jockey, trainer, and morning line): 1. Gorilla Trek (David Cohen, Philip Bauer, 12/1); 2. Ocean Victory (Marcelino Pedroza Jr., Brendan Walsh, 6/1); 3. Bear River (James Graham, Keith Desormeaux, 8/1); 4. Camaro Z (Corey Lanerie, Greg Foley, 12/1); 5. Can Group (Jareth Loveberry, Mark Casse, 4/1); 6. Yo Daddy (Jose Riqulme, Keith Desormeaux, 20/1); 7. St. Armands Key (Jaime Torres, Joe Sharp, 6/1); 8. Count Dracula (Brian Hernandez Jr., Ken McPeek, 15/1); 9. Summer in Adriane (Ben Curtis, Tom Morley, 15/1); 10. Neat (Rey Gutierrez, Rob Atras, 3/1); 11. Works for Me (Mitchell Murrill, Joseph Lee, 12/1); 12. Rock’n a Halo (Edgar Morales, Tom Amoss, 15/1). 

Led by Behemah Star, Wilson Enters Trio of Repeat Meet Winners in Edward J. Johnston 

Trainer Shane Wilson entered three in Saturday’s $100,000 Edward J. Johnston Memorial at Fair Grounds as Brittlyn Stable’s Behemah Star headlines the field of eleven older statebreds, which includes stablemates Calicoco and Moment of Stardom. The trio account for six of the meet-leader’s 42 scores, as each will be racing for their third win of the meet. Run at about one mile on the Stall-Wilson turf course and slated as race 7 on Saturday’s 10-race card, post time for the Eddie Johnston is 4:10 p.m. CT.

Prior to winning the 2023 Louisiana Champions Day Turf, Behemah Star was winless on grass, but trainer Shane Wilson keyed in on the speed figure he earned when coming up a half-length short in the 2022 Louisiana Legends Turf and believed the son of Star Guitar could produce his top efforts across the lawn. Since that win, the 6-year-old son of Star Guitar has been in top form as he backed up that score with a dominant allowance victory and a game second against open company when losing to Velocitor by a neck on Feb. 12. The Wilson barn’s first call Jose Guerrero has been aboard for all three races and returns on Saturday to guide the 3-1 morning line favorite from post 2.

Since moving to the turf last August, Tye Smith’s homebred Calicoco has three wins and a place-finish, all against allowance company. A forward foot has been the key to the son of Calibrachoa’s two-race win streak, as both wins have come gate-to-wire at the Johnston distance. With Guerrero up on Behemah Star, Edgar Morales gets the call on the 4-year-old who will break from post 6.

The longest price in the morning line of the three stablemates, Brittlyn Stable’s Moment of Stardom also enters the Johnston red hot. With the services of Jaime Torres, the 6-year-old has saved ground in his last two races before producing a sharp kick which put him in the winner’s circle in each contest. Torres returns to the irons and will have work to do from the 8-hole to find a similar rail-skimming trip.

Here is the field for the Eddie Johnston in order of post positions (with jockey, trainer, and morning line): 1. Sonya Knows Better (Emanuel Nieves, Jonah Fuselier, 50/1); 2. Behemah Star (Jose Guerrero, Shane Wilson, 3/1); 3. Langs Day (Timothy Thornton, Lee Thomas, 20/1); 4. Woods N Water (Thomas Pompell, Lee Thomas, 8/1); 5. Mangum (Corey Lanerie, Jeff Delhomme, 6/1); 6. Calicoco (Edgar Morales, Shane Wilson, 6/1); 7. Who Took the Money (C.J. Mcmahon, Bret Calhoun, 4/1); 8. Moment of Stardom (Jaime Torres, Shane Wilson, 15/1); 9. Benoit (James Graham, Dallas Stewart, 20/1); 10. Jack Hammer (Rey Gutierrez, Bret Calhoun, 9/2); 11. Wise Verdict (Ben Curtis, Eduardo Ramirez, 10/1).

Division Newcomer Highly Wicked Looks to Stay Perfect on Turf in Red Camela

Earl Hernandez, Keith Hernandez & John Duvieilh’s homebred Highly Wicked will put her perfect two-for-two turf record on the line against eight other older statebred fillies and mares in Saturday’s $100,000 Red Camela Stakes. Tabbed as the 7-2 morning line second choice, Highly Wicked’s grass allowance wins both came at the Camela distance of about one mile. The portable rails will be set at 14 feet on Saturday and post time for the 48th running of the Red Camela is scheduled for 3:06 p.m. (Race 5).

In a field of the usual suspects, Highly Wicked is a relative newcomer. Trained by Sam David Jr., the 4-year-old finished third in June’s Louisiana Legends Soiree at Evangeline Downs, her lone stakes try. Gifted with natural speed, each of her three wins from ten lifetime starts have come when leading at every call, including her local maiden win against $10,000 claimers when she romped by 21 lengths in her first race stretching out to two turns.

Bred by Duvieilh and the father-and-son Hernandez team, the daughter of Wicked Strong out of the Rahy mare Highly Confused is a half-sibling to And Fifty and C’Mon Ve, both out of Half Ours and both winless from two grass starts. Having won aboard stablemate Hard Four two weeks prior, the only call of his career for David, Jareth Loveberry will pilot Highly Wicked from post 7.

With exacta finishes in ten of her last twelve races, Tom Galvin’s A G’s Charlotte earned 5-2 favoritism in the morning line. The 5-year-old’s lone win on the sod came in May of 2022 against allowance ranks at Evangeline Downs. The honest and versatile 8-time winning mare trained by Patricia West finished a half-length shy of taking the 2023 Camela. Marcelino Pedroza Jr. will climb aboard the 2022 Big World and Louisiana Champions Day Distaff winner and guide her from post 6.

Here is the field for the Red Camela in order of post positions (with jockey, trainer, and morning line): 1. Spirited Beauty (Jose Guerrero, Shane Wilson, 6/1); 2. Speedy Dudette (Aubrie Green, Joe Duhon, 6/1); 3. Vale Male (James Graham, James Hodges, 20/1); 4. Cheapskate Diva (Carlos L. Marquez, Joseph Felks, 8/1); 5. Wholelottamo (C.J. Mcmahon, Jayde Gelner, 6/1); 6. A G’s Charlotte (Marcelino Pedroza Jr., Patricia West, 5/2); 7. Highly Wicked (Jareth Loveberry, Sam David Jr., 7/2); 8. World War (Devin Magnon, Allen Landry, 6/1); 9. Visionista (Jaime Torres, Eduardo Rodriguez, 12/1). 


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



Behemah Star_12-9-2023-f-sm