Meet Leaders Halfway Through | Risen Star Probables Curly Jack and Two Phil’s lead this week’s notable workouts
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Contact: Kevin Kilroy
Notes Writer/Media Relations
New Orleans, La (Feb. 2, 2023) – The 80-day meet at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots hit the halfway mark last Thursday, Jan. 26. Here is an overview of the storylines so far. (Note: all stats cover racing through Sunday, Jan. 29).
Two trainers are having an especially remarkable meet, as Bret Calhoun leads all with 26 wins in 87 starts (30%) and Brad Cox is currently in second with 21 first-place finishes, accounting for 42% of his starters.
Cox’s success in the Derby and Oaks prep races accounts for five of those wins, taking the Lecomte (G3), Silverbulletday, Gun Runner, Sugar Bowl, and Letellier.
Three jockeys have risen to the top with Rey Gutierrez leading all with 37 wins. Jareth Loveberry is in 2nd with 34 wins. Both Gutierrez and Loveberry joined the colony last year, finished in the top ten, and are now vying for their first riding title at Fair Grounds. 4-time title winner James Graham sits in third with 33 wins; he’s fighting to make it three years in a row on top.
Godolphin leads the owners with 9 wins in 19 starts (47%). 15 of their runners have finished in the top three (79%). Lothenbach Stables is in second with 8 wins.
Though they don’t have the barns to compete for the titles, here are two of the trainers who deserve recognition for their success in the first half of the meet. Patricia West has racked up 7 wins in 24 races, including her first stakes victory coming on opening day when A G’s Charlotte won the inaugural Big World Stakes. Justin Jeansonne, too, has sent out live runners left and right, winning with eight of them from 34 runners.
The race is on for the apprentice title, and with 13 total Brianne Culp has the 5-win advantage over Sofia Barandela and Treylon Albert.
Returning to the colony this year, Florent Geroux and Corey Lanerie both picked up where they left off when it comes to their winning ways. Geroux, who scored his 2,000th career North American victory here last week, has won 34% of his mounts and Lanerie 21%.
With three sprint stakes wins at the meet – in the Thanksgiving Classic, the Scherer, and the Kenner – the Keith Desormeaux-trained Surveillance leads all horses with $225,000 in earnings. Older router Happy American is 2 for 2 at the current stand, winning both the Tenacious and the Louisiana (G3) for Neil Pessin.
For Louisiana-breds, no one has been more impressive than Touchuponastar, stretching out for the first time to win the Louisiana Champions Day Classic. But the sprinter Bron and Brow deserves mention for backing up his allowance win with a game victory in the inaugural Gary Palmisiano Stakes.
Work tab (Risen Star probables Curly Jack and Two Phil’s lead this week’s notable workouts)
Working in company, Curly Jack fired a bullet for trainer Tom Amoss. The Iroquois-winner ran down two stablemates while breezing 5 furlongs in :59.80.
“It’s the work I was looking for with what we were trying to accomplish (by having him work in company),” said Amoss.
Curly Jack is pointed to the Risen Star (G2) on Feb. 18.
Last seen in the Silverbulletday, Forest Chimes breezed 4 furlongs in :48.40 for trainer Jason Barkley (6th best of 59 at that distance). No race has been circled yet for this impressive lightly-race filly.
Exiting the Lecomte (G3), a race in which he pulled up late, the Steve Asmussen-trainee Echo Again reappeared on the work tab, clocking 4 furlongs in 1:02.60 (13th best of 18).
Wednesday, Feb. 1
After finishing second in the Lecomte (G3), trainer Larry Rivelli sent Two Phil’s out to breeze 4 furlongs on Wednesday morning with Jareth Loveberry aboard. He went :50.40, the 24th best of 46. Two Phil’s is pointed to the Risen Star (G2) on Feb. 18.
Not having raced since breaking his maiden at Saratoga in August, Disarm posted his fourth local workout on Wednesday. The 3-year-old colt, who could target Louisiana Derby Preview Day on Feb. 18, covered 5 furlongs in 1:01.60 (5th best of 21).
Monday, Jan. 30
A winner on debut for trainer Steve Asmussen, the 3-year-old colt First Defender breezed 5 furlongs in 1:01.40, the best at that distance compared to three workers total.
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 151st Thoroughbred Racing Season – highlighted by the 110th running of the Louisiana Derby – will run from Nov 18, 2022 through March 26, 2023. More information is available online at www.fairgroundsracecourse.com.