Olympiad (NO Classic), Sacred Life (Muniz Memorial Classic) & Hendy Woods (Tom Benson Memorial) Favored in Louisiana Derby Day Supporting Stakes
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
By Chad Schexnayder
Contact: Joe Kristufek
Notes Writer/Media Relations
Olympiad (NO Classic), Sacred Life (Muniz Memorial Classic) & Hendy Woods (Tom Benson Memorial) Favored in Louisiana Derby Day Supporting Stakes
Run as race 8 of 12 on Saturday’s Louisiana Derby Day card (first post at noon CT), the Tom Benson Memorial will launch Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots’ “All Stakes Late Pick Five” with a $500,000 guaranteed pool. The remainder of the races in the sequence are the New Orleans Classic (G2) as race 9, the Muniz Memorial Classic (G2) presented by Horse Racing Nation as race 10, the Twinspires.com Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) as race 11, and the Twinspires.com Louisiana Derby (G2) as the 12th and final.
Olympiad Eyes Fair Grounds Stakes Double in New Orleans Classic
Bill Mott-trained colt set a new track record in Mineshaft win
(New Orleans, Tuesday, March 22, 2022) – Grandview Equine, Cheyenne Stable and LNJ Foxwoods’ classy 4-year-old colt Olympiad is set to return to Fair Grounds from his South Florida base as the 8-5 favorite in Saturday’s 97th running of the $500,000 New Orleans Classic (G2).
Run at 1 1/8 miles, the New Orleans Classic was carded as Race 9 of 12 with a post time of 4:08 p.m. (all times Central). First post Saturday is noon.
Trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott and ridden by Junior Alvarado, Olympiad cruised to a 2 ¼-length score in the $250,000 Mineshaft (G3) last month at Fair Grounds, stopping the timer in 1:42.01 for 1 1/16th miles and shaving .01 off the previous track record set by Pie In Your Eye way back in 1994. The bay son of Speightstown has only finished worse than second once in his seven race career – a troubled fourth-place finish in last year’s $750,000 Cigar Mile (GI). Olympiad and Alvarado will break from post two.
“That’s the kind of horse that makes your work very easy,” Alvarado said following the Mineshaft. “He leaves the gate, you nudge him a little bit, and he takes you for a nice ride the whole way. The longer stretch (at Fair Grounds) helped him today. He’s a horse that needs more than a 1/16th mile stretch run to pick it up and he proved that today.”
The Godolphin homebred Proxy hopes to build off an impressive comeback win in his 4-year-old debut on February 25 for Mike Stidham. Second in both the Lecomte (G3) and Risen Star (G2) last year, the son of Tapit fell a bit flat in the Louisiana Derby (G2) and the Lexington (G3) at Keeneland, finishing fourth in both. Apparently, the time off to mature did him some good.
“In the mornings he’s a bigger, stronger, better horse now with a little more maturity,” Stidham said. “Last year he’d go out there in the mornings and he wasn’t really interested in working well, but you can see from his tab leading up to this, he is doing things a little different now. He ran with blinkers in his last two starts (last year), but watching those races, we didn’t see where they helped him so we didn’t think twice about taking them off.”
The 5-2 second choice with Brian Hernandez Jr. back aboard, Proxy will break from post 5.
“I couldn’t be happier,” Stidham said. “He’s had three really good works since his last race. He ran against top quality horses last year as a 3-year-old. It’s just a matter of seeing if he’s good enough to compete with the top horses this year, but he’s given me every indication that he can. Given the way he ran in his last race, nine furlongs should absolutely be better than 1 1/16 miles for him. He was very relaxed and came home finishing nicely. I’m very much looking forward to the added distance with him.”
With the champion Echo Zulu and Epicenter favored in the Twinspires.com Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) and Twinspires.com Louisiana Derby (G2), respectively, and Midnight Bourbon set to compete in the Dubai World Cup at Meydan, Saturday could be a monstrous day for trainer Steve Asmussen, who also sends forth Erv Woolsey and brother Keith Asmussen’s Super Stock in the New Orleans Classic. Joel Rosario will ride from post three.
“He’s never raced here but he has worked well here,” Asmussen said. “It’s a good opportunity for him. I didn’t like the trip he got last time (Razorback at Oaklawn). We think he is better than that and we think the change of scenery may just wake him up a little bit. It’s a good race and we are hoping he goes out there and proves us right.”
Trained by Dallas Stewart, Estate of James Coleman’s 2021 New Orleans Classic hero Chess Chief narrowly defeated Owendale to win his first graded stakes. The now 6-year-old horse finished his 5-year-old campaign with a victory in the $100,000 Tenacious Stakes at Fair Grounds prior to a sixth-place effort in the $3 million Pegasus World Cup (G1) at Gulfstream Park. All five of his career wins have come at Fair Grounds. Reylu Gutierrez will have the call from post six.
The field for the $500,000 New Orleans Classic (race 9 at 5:44 pm CT) with post position, jockey/trainer and morning line odds: Woodford Thoroughbreds and WinStar Farms’ Promise Keeper (post one, Tyler Gaffalione/Todd Pletcher, 3-1 ML), winner of the Peter Pan (G3) last year as a 3-year-old; Grandview Equine and Cheyenne Stables’ Olympiad (post two, Junior Alvarado/Bill Mott, 8-5 ML); Erv Woolsey and Keith Asmussen’s Super Stock (post three, Joel Rosario/ Steve Asmussen, 8-1 ML); Lothenbach Stables’ Happy American (post four, James Graham/Neil Pessin, 8-1 ML); Godolphin’s Proxy (post five, Brian Hernandez Jr./Mike Stidham, 5-2 ML); Estate of James Coleman’s Chess Chief (post six, Reylu Gutierrez/Dallas Stewart, 8-1 ML).
The New Orleans Classic is part of a tremendous program Saturday at Fair Grounds and is one of eight stakes on the card. The penultimate day of the Fair Grounds season is topped by the $1 million TwinSpires.com Louisiana Derby (G2), which will go as the finale and the $400,000 TwinSpires.com Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) (Race 11). The other stakes on the card are the $75,000 Crescent City Oaks (Race 3); $75,000 Crescent City Derby (Race 5); $75,000 Costa Rising (Race 6); $100,000 Tom Benson Memorial (Race 8); and $300,000 Muniz Memorial Classic presented by Horse Racing Nation (G2) (Race 10).
Past performances for all of Fair Grounds races are available on www.Brisnet.com and fans can wager on www.TwinSpires.com, the official wagering provider of Churchill Downs Inc.
Chad Brown Holding a Pair of Aces for Muniz Memorial Classic
Turf veterans Sacred Life & Devamani the top two choices in the morning line
You won’t find many graded stakes races on the turf around the country without an entry from the Chad Brown barn.
In the case of Saturday’s $300,000 Muniz Memorial Classic (G2) presented by Horse Racing Nation at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, Brown hopes that not only longer will be better but also some ageless enthusiasm will prevail.
The East Coast-based conditioner sends a pair of long-toothed, French-bred turf veterans in 7-year-old Sacred Life and 8-year-old Devamani, both of whom have traveled near and far for their connections in search of graded stakes glory.
Brown has tasted success in the Muniz before with 2019 Horse of the Year Bricks and Mortar. He also won the 2012 edition with Casino Host and owns a 6-2-1-1 record in this marquee event for older turf horses in New Orleans.
Breaking from post two under Florent Geroux for the first time, Sacred Life was tabbed the 2-1 morning line favorite. Sacred Life has visited the winner’s circle just once in his last eight, with that score coming in the Knickerbocker (G3) in October of last year. In his only start of 2022, the son of Siyouni flew late, but was compromised by a slow pace early, finishing a close sixth behind last year’s Muniz champ Colonel Liam in the Pegasus World Cup Turf (G1) at Gulfstream.
His stablemate and work partner Devamani comes to the bayou off a pedestrian sixth place finish in the Tampa Bay Stakes (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs last month. Devamani (5-2) has shown an affinity for grass courses with some cut in the them, but with rain not forecasted Wednesday through Saturday, the Stall-Wilson turf course should be in firm condition for closing weekend.
Joel Rosario will break from the third post position outside his stablemate in the nine-horse field scheduled to run 1 1 /8 miles on the turf with the rails down.
Vying for favoritism once again will be Godolphin’s homebred Santin (7-2).
Santin was bet down off his 12-1 morning line to the 2.70-to-1 public choice in his 4-year-old debut last month in the Fair Grounds Stakes (G3). The son of Distorted Humor had a compromised trip under Tyler Gaffalione but showed some late interest down the stretch just missing the board. The top four finishers from that race were separated by less than a length.
“He ran well in the Fair Grounds (Stakes) and it will benefit him having a run going into Saturday,” trainer Brendan Walsh said. “He’s been working very well. He’s only run four times. He showed that he could mix it up with those seasoned, older horses. He just has to improve a little to put him right there again, which I think that he has. Chad’s (Brown) two horses look tough, and there are some other proven, seasoned horses in there. It’s going to take my horse another two or three starts to get to the point where they already are. All he lacks is experience. If he can stick right with them now, if he keeps improving, that should put him right up there with the very best turf horses this year.”
The lack of early pace in the favorites’ running lines could be beneficial for the local longshot contingents like Cavalry Charge, Forty Under and Two Emmys, who used his front-running speed last year to a runner-up finish at huge odds.
Cavalry Charge (10-1) gutted out a determined front-running win in the Fair Grounds Stakes (G3) last month. Trainer Dallas Stewart and jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. could find themselves on the lead once again in this race.
Recent stakes winners Cavalry Charge, Forty Under and Another Mystery will all carry 122 pounds. The rest of the field is slated to carry 118 pounds.
The field for the $300,000 Muniz Memorial Classic Stakes (G2) presented by Horse Racing Nation (race 10 at 4:40 pm CT) with post position, jockey/trainer and morning line odds: BW and HTS Stables LLC and Jason Grudzien’s Peacock Kitten (post one, Devin Magnon/Rylee Grudzien, 30-1 ML), whose only start on the Stall-Wilson turf course was an off the board finish in starter allowance company; Michael Dubb, Madaket Stables LLC, Wonder Stables and Michael Caruso’s Sacred Life (FR) (post two, Florent Geroux/Chad Brown, 2-1 ML), a pace compromised sixth last time out in the Pegasus Turf Invitational (G1); Michael Dubb, Sanford Goldfarb & Samuel Abraham’s Devamani (FR) (post three, Joel Rosario/Chad Brown, 5-2 ML), off the board last time in the Tampa Bay Stakes (G3); West Point Thoroughbreds, William Sandbrook & Robert Masiello’s Cavalry Charge (post four, Brian Hernandez Jr./Dallas Stewart, 10-1 ML), front-running winner of the Fair Grounds Stakes (G3) last time out; Three Diamond Farm’s Forty Under (post five, Mitchel Murrill/Michael Maker, 10-1 ML), winner of the Colonel E.R. Bradley two starts back at Fair Grounds; Lothenbach Stables’ Captivating Moon (post six, Junior Alvarado/Chris Block, 15-1 ML), sixth in the Muniz last year; Team Block’s Another Mystery (post seven, Jareth Loveberry/Chris Block, 12-1 ML), coming off a dead heat victory in the John B. Connally Stakes (G3) at Sam Houston; Wolfe Racing & Hugh Robertson’s Two Emmys (post eight, James Graham/Hugh Robertson 10-1 ML), second at 24-1 in this race last year; and the Godolphin homebred Santin (post nine, Tyler Gaffalione/Brendan Walsh, 7-2 ML), fourth as the favorite in the Fair Grounds Stakes (G3) last month.
Hendy Woods, Gam’s Mission Bring New Blood Into Benson Memorial
Turf tilt kicks off the “All Stakes” Late Pick Five
The older filly and mare turf division gets some fresh faces for the $100,000 Tom Benson Memorial Stakes on Saturday at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots. With the rails down, the Benson will be run at 1 1/16 miles.
Run as race 8 of 12 on Saturday, the Benson will launch the “All Stakes Late Pick Five” with a $500,000 guaranteed pool. The remainder of the races in the sequence are the New Orleans Classic (G2) as race 9, the Muniz Memorial Classic (G2) presented by Horse Racing Nation as race 10, the Twinspires.com Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) as race 11, and the Twinspires.com Louisiana Derby (G2) as the 12th and final.
A division which has had a different winner for each race on the Stall-Wilson turf course drew a field of nine this time with newcomer Hendy Woods established as the 5-2 morning line favorite.
Owned by Stonestreet and trained by Mark Casse, Hendy Woods has an affection for the grass in the Crescent City, having broken her maiden first time out before winning an allowance race back in the spring of 2020.
The 5-year-old Uncle Mo mare has recorded seven local drills ahead of her seasonal debut. From post two, she gets the services of Tyler Gaffalione in the saddle.
“She got a good break after the fall at Stonestreet, came back in excellent shape and she’s trained exceptionally well,” said Casse’s assistant trainer David Carroll. “She’s been a nice filly for us and we are looking forward to getting her started back. Timing-wise this is good for her. This is a filly that puts a lot into her training and she gets a lot out of it. Good breezes, good gallop outs, hardly had to blow. Will she improve from this first race? Yes, but she’s ready to run now. I like her draw, Tyler (jockey Gaffalione) knows her inside and out. If she runs like we expect, we will probably get her ready for Churchill. She doesn’t seem to like the Keeneland turf.”
One of her main rivals for this race figures to be Lazy F Ranch’s Gam’s Mission, who will also be returning from a fall freshening for trainer Cherie DeVaux. Last seen in New York where she was a troubled fourth, beaten less than a length, in the Winter Memories, Gam’s Mission started working towards her season debut on Feb. 12.
The Noble Mission filly gets post four under Adam Beschizza for this assignment.
Trainer Brendan Walsh will take his shot with a pair of mid-range price horses in Lake Lucerne (5-1) at the rail and I Hear You (12-1) in the third post position. I Hear You did not get an advantageous trip last time out finishing fourth in the Albert M. Stall Memorial finishing fourth in the nine-horse field.
Owned and bred by Godolphin, Lake Lucerne is in search of some more domestic black type as she heads into her 5-year-old season. She owns a record of 12-3-0-1 on the grass.
She Can’t Sing and Lovely Ride – two recent stakes winners at the meet – share 122 pound high-weight assignments with the rest of the field slated at 118 pounds.
The field for the $100,000 Tom Benson Memorial (race 8 at 3:37 pm CT) with post position, jockey/trainer and morning line odds: Godolphin’s Lake Lucerne (post one, Joel Rosario/Brendan Walsh, 5-1 ML) making her 5-year-old debut; Ismael Thoroughbreds’ Russian Mafia (post two, Santo Sanjur/Eduardo Rodriguez, 12-1 ML), a 16-time starter on the Stall-Wilson turf with four wins; Bradley Thoroughbred & Tim and Anna Cambron and Brady and Zane Carruth’s I Hear You (post three, Reylu Gutierrez/Brendan Walsh, 12-1 ML), looking for her first stakes win; Lazy F Ranch’s Gam’s Mission (post four, Adam Beschizza/Cherie DeVaux, 7-2 ML) broke her maiden in her only start on the Stall-Wilson turf course; Darrin Dares’ Clara Peeters (post five, Mitchell Murrill/Chris Hartman, 10-1 ML) makes her fourth start for her fourth different barn at the meet; Stonestreet Stables’ Hendy Woods (post six, Tyler Gaffalione/Mark Casse, 5-2 ML) undefeated in two starts on the turf course at Fair Grounds; Team Forster 211 LLC’s Miss Tulsa (post seven, James Graham/Grant Forster, 30-1 ML) making her stakes debut; Lothenbach Stables’ She Can’t Sing (post eight, Jareth Loveberry/Chris Block, 6-1 ML) winner of the Albert Stall Memorial in her last start; John Holleman and Lucky Dog Stables’ Lovely Ride (post nine, Florent Geroux/Robertino Diodoro, 9-2 ML) winner of the Pago Hop earlier in the meet as a 3-year-old.
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 www.fairgroundsracecourse.com.