Proxy’s 4-year-old Season Starts Off with a Bang — Bernabreezy back on track — Gilligan Wins — Stand-outs on the work tab
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Contact: Kevin Kilroy
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Proxy’s 4-year-old Season Starts Off with a Bang
Bernabreezy back on track—Gilligan Wins–Stand-outs on the work tab
New Orleans, LA (February 26, 2022)—The runner-up in last year’s Risen Star (G2) and Lecomte (G2), Godolphin’s homebred Proxy returned to the races Friday and won a conditioned $40,000 optional claiming allowance (2x) against a competitive field. Proxy’s last race on the Road to the 2021 Kentucky Derby was the Lexington (G3) where he finished fourth with a regressive speed figure. On Friday, he earned a 96 Bris speed figure for trainer Mike Stidham, 2 points shy of his career-best in the Risen Star.
Having taken over 10 months off, Proxy joined the morning work tab January 11th at Fair Grounds Race Course and Slots, putting in six solid breezes ahead of the return. Stidham liked what he’d been seeing going into Friday’s assignment.
“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 son of Tapit ran with maturity, and he looked professional switching leads, a factor he struggled with last year. With a final time of 1:42.45, just .44 slower than the new track record set in the Mineshaft (G2) by Olympiad, Proxy’s return win suggests he’s ready to run against graded company next.
“He came out of it great,” Stidham said Saturday morning. “The New Orleans Classic (G2 on March 26) is a race we’re very interested in.”
Bernabreezy Eyes Fair Grounds Oaks (G2)
Though the Silverbulletday didn’t pan out as planned, Nelson Mcmakin and Aaron Kennedy’s Bernabreezy’s next-out win against first-level optional claimers here at Fair Grounds on February 18 reinserted her name near the top of a 3-year old filly division where no clear stars have emerged.
“She was a little bit on edge for the SIlverbulletday,” trainer Matt Shirer said. “She was on her toes in the paddock a little bit more than I thought she would be in the paddock, and when we sent her out for the post parade, I could tell she was really wanting to get after it. When she broke from the gate, she was a little bit too sharp. She wasn’t rank, but she did throw her head once or twice going into the first turn.”
Receiving an 86 Bris speed figure, four points better than her Silverbulletday run and her December maiden win here at Fair Grounds, Bernabreezy rallied last to first to beat a sharp which included Sequist and Mariah’s Fortune by two lengths.
“Even dating back to Spectrum (training center) I had worked her behind horses a couple times and dirt hitting her in the face has never bothered her,” Shirer said. “She showed that kind of turn of foot in the mornings before she ever ran in a race. We schooled her a bunch more going into the allowance the other day, and it just seemed like she was a lot more relaxed. She saved her energy. She just wants to sit back and make one big run. I thought she showed a huge turn of foot. James (jockey Graham) kind of cut the corner on the turn, and at the 3/16ths she really accelerated. She passed horses and then kind of geared down a little bit, so I need to make sure to teach her to keep going and finish through the wire.”
“I think we fit (in the Fair Grounds Oaks),” Shirer said. “She’s learned a lot. It’s not 100% confirmed yet, as long as she keeps progressing, that’s what we are pointing to.”
Jack Gilligan wins his first since return
Riding the Michelle Lovell-trained first-time starter, Margie’s Kitchen in the turf sprint 6th race on Saturday, jockey Jack Gilligan sat off the dueling leaders and made a move to pass and pull away out of the turn. His 11th mount since returning on February 5th, Gilligan had taken over a year off after suffering a broken collarbone and deciding to take longer off to heal from previous concussions.
“This was the best shot I’ve had recently,” Gilligan said. “I’ve been working this filly in the mornings awhile now, and I’ve really loved the way she’s been moving, so I was quietly confident today might be the day and it worked out great. She was professional out there with the delay in the gate. For me it’s been more than 12 months so it’s been a long recovery, a long time getting back, and it just feels good to get that feeling back crossing the wire first.”
On the Work Tab
On 2/26 Al Stall Jr-trained 4-year-old Masqueparade breezed 3 furlongs in 38.00, 7 of 10. His first since August.
On 2/26 Keith Desormeaux-trained Lecomte (G3) winner Call Me Midnight worked 4 furlongs in 1.20, 78 of 80.
On 2/21 Steve Asmussen-trained Echo Zulu put in her third workout since returning in the mornings, going 5 furlongs in 1:02.4, 22 of 33.
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.