Seven Undercard Stakes Recaps on “Road to the Derby Kickoff Day”

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Moon Swag Wins Broussard to Kick off Three-Win Day for Walsh Barn

New Orleans, La (December 26, 2022) – Farfellow Farms’ Moon Swag relaxed off a sharp early pace and came charging late to win Monday’s $100,000 Joseph E. “Spanky” Broussard at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots by 2 1/2 lengths. Charlie’s Penny 3-5 favorite lost the place photo and finished third. 

Moon Swag, a 4-year-old filly by Malibu Moon, ran 1 mile and 70 yards on a fast track in 1:43.21. The Walsh barn won two other races on the Road to the Derby Kickoff Day card – the Untapable Stakes with 2-year-old filly Pretty Mischievous and a maiden special weight rout with their promising 2-year-old colt Banishing, also a Godolphin homebred. 

Corey Lanerie rode the winner, a late rider change after Luis Saez was delayed by travel issues. Trainer Brendan Walsh’s assistant trainer Paul Madden saddled Moon Swag to victory. 

Lil Kings Princess went right to the front and led the field of five older fillies and mares down the backstretch in fractions of :23.59, :47.03 and 1:12.55 with Charlie’s Penny stalking 2-wide and Powder River tracking to the leader’s inside. Moon Swag was traveling comfortably off the rail, giving distance to her foes in front and behind while mid-pack and in the clear on the outside.

“She got stuck down inside in the Fall City, and ran a little keen,” Madden said. “ Brendan (Walsh) was adamant he wanted to keep her away from the horses today. Thankfully that worked out for us. It’s great for the team. She’s not the easiest filly to be around. A lot of credit goes to Salvador, her groom and Steven who rides her every morning.” 

Leaving the turn, Lil Kings Princess began to fade and Charlie’s Penny took a brief lead. Moon Swag ranged up to Charlie’s Penny right hip and took some convincing from Lanerie to get by but once she did she had all the late kick.

“I had time to prepare in case I was riding,” Lanerie said. “I looked at the Racing Form and watched her last races. She looked pretty easy to ride, and Brendan (Walsh) gave me my instructions.”

The first prize was $60,000 and hiked Moon Swag’s bankroll to $334,880 with a record of 4-1-4 from 13 starts. It was her second career stakes win. At age 2, she won the 2020 Manzano Stakes at Albuquerque.

Moon Swag paid $6.00, $2.80 and $2.10 at odds of 2-1. Powder River was second, followed by Charlie’s Penny, Bow Bow Girl, and Lil Kings Princess.

Corona Bolt Sprints Home as Much the Best in Sugar Bowl

Corona Bolt went straight to the front against the juvenile boys and was never menaced winning the $100,000 Sugar Bowl at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots by 6 3/4 lengths.

Florent Geroux rode Corona Bolt to victory for trainer Brad Cox and owners Stonestreet Stables. He ran six furlongs over a fast track in 1:09.96.

“We’ll see how he comes out of this,” Cox said, “but based on today, I think he deserves the opportunity to try two turns. He’s a nice colt, he’s got enough scope about himself. There was no intent on necessarily being on the lead, we thought he’d let him break and settle into the race with natural speed and found himself on the lead.”

The victory was worth $60,000 and boosted Corona Bolt’s earnings to $102,000 with a perfect record in two starts. 

Corona Bolt got away from the gate fast from post 3 in the field of six fillies and mares and rattled off an opening quarter mile in :22.24 and a half-mile in :45.92 as Late September and Machine Gun Man attempted to keep up. Distorted Pro kept to the rail settling towards the back and made a game finish for second after battling Toddchero who was last away .

“When you’re a heavy favorite like this you try not to think too much as long as the horse cooperates and breaks well,” Geroux said. “So when he broke sharp I just tried to take command and was able to take control all the way to the wire.”

Corona Bolt paid $3.00, $2.20 and $2.10 as the 1-2 favorite. Distorted Pro, also trained by Brad Cox, came in second. Toddchero, Late September, Alto Road, and Machine Gun Man completed the order of finish.

Corona Bolt is the son Bolt d’Oro out of the Quiet American dam Calmbeforethestorm and was bred in Kentucky by Summerfield Sales Agency, Inc. & Etarip Stables. 

Dazzling Blue Wires Competitive Field in Letellier

Juddmonte’s Dazzling Blue fended off pressure early to lead the juvenile fillies from gate to wire in the $100,000 Letellier Memorial Stakes at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, winning by 3 lengths. 

Florent Geroux rode Dazzling Blue to victory for trainer Brad Cox. She ran six furlongs over a fast track in 1:11.59.

The victory was worth $60,000 and increased Dazzling Blue ’s earnings to $129,000 with a perfect 2-for-2 record.

Dazzling Blue broke a length slow but was quickly hustled forward to lead the field of eight through a quick opening fraction of :22.18 which cooled off to :46.45 at the 1/2 mile call. Miss Shipman made an outside move to be in second through the turn as Condensation rode the rail near the back and began to make her move in the homestretch. As soon as the field began to bear down on Dazzling Blue, Geroux asked her for more and she re-broke to put all bids to bed and pull away in hand. Condensation rode the rail in for second as Miss Shipman held on for third.  

“She felt great,” Geroux said. “The break was a little slow but she was able to push all the way through. From there she continued on beautifully, and she was able to take some nice deep breaths. She was waiting for horses at the end but when I asked her, she pulled away. I really liked the way she finished up the race.”

Dazzling Blue paid $3.00, $2.60 and $2.40 as the 1-2 favorite. Twice as Sweet, Promise of Hope, Neutralize, Flamand, and Gavinera completed the order of finish.

“Overall a big effort, she finished up well, kicked away late,” Cox said. “We’ll look to stretch her out a bit after today’s effort. Hopefully she can handle the two turns. Into Mischiefs can handle anything, and she’s out of Curlin mare. A big win for Juddmonte, and we’ll look to keep it going.”

Surveillance stays perfect at Fair Grounds with Scherer Memorial Score 

Surveillance stayed perfect on Fair Grounds’ main track, winning the $100,000 Richard R. Scherer Memorial Stakes by 2 lengths over Bango. That makes it two stakes wins in a row for the New Orleans-loving gray, who captured the $175,000 Thanksgiving Classic earlier in the meet.

Surveillance, a 5-year-old owned by Big Chief Racing, Rocker O Ranch, and owner/trainer Keith Desormeaux, ran six furlongs in 1:09.61 to stay perfect from four starts on Fair Grounds’ dirt track. With Surveillance in the Scherer, Spooky Channel in the Diliberto, and Happy American in the Tenacious, James Graham rode three stakes winners on Monday’s “Road to the Derby Kickoff Day” card.

“He’s a bit of a character this fellow,” Graham said of Surveillance. “But he shows up when he’s here. He likes this place and I like riding him here, or anywhere. He quickens late but he does idle a bit once he makes the lead.”

Longshot High Cruise was the quickest from the gate and set fractions of :22.08 and :45.47 as the lukewarm 3-1 favorite Tulane Tryst tracked on his outside. Bango stalked the leader along the rail before making a game move splitting foes to bid for the lead, but he was beat to the front by the outside charging Surveillance who finished off the field with his signature late kick. Bango held on for second as Heart Rhythm improved his position late to come on for third.

“It’s one of those fickle things of nature with horses,” Desormeaux said. “Surveillance just feels more confident here and he must love the way the surface is constructed. It’s great to win a race named for a friend of mine, Richie Scherer, who was also a great sprint trainer. Fair Grounds has a great series of sprint races that we will point to moving forward.”

Surveillance was overlooked to the tune of 7-1 by the bettors, paying $17.80, $6.80 and $4.40. High Cruise, Miles Ahead, Manny Wah and Tulane Tryst completed the order of finish.

With a record of 5-3-5 from 25 starts, Surveillance adds $60,000 to make his career winnings $406,367.

The Tenacious Goes to Happy American, Second in Last Year’s Edition

After suffering a heartbreaking loss in last year’s edition of the $100,000 Tenacious Stakes, Lothenbach Stables’ Happy American returned to the scene of the crime, and this time he was the one who stole the show. 

In his customary position near the back of the pack early, Happy American had a good view of several heels, including those of the pacesetter Five Star General, who carved out fractions of :24.21 and :47.85. Mr. Wireless, who stalked the pace while wide, slowly advanced his way to the front, while Happy American picked off horses one by one, while enduring an outside trip of his own. With the serious turn of foot he has so often displayed, Happy American quickly rallied to the front, leaving Mr. Wireless in his wake while drifting noticeably in the stretch, extending the margin to 2 3/4 lengths across the wire and stopping the clock at 1:44.19. Forza Di Oro, the 2-1 post time favorite, finished an even third.  

“He was very good today, has been very good his whole career,” regular rider James Graham in scoring his third stakes win of the day. “Last year I thought we won by a head, but today we made sure he won by more than a head. He drifted at the end because he’s still a big baby learning what he has to do. He saw the big screen, first time under the lights. When he’s won before he’s never run away from them that fast–he’s always had someone with him to the sixteenth pole, today we were about four (lengths) in front at the eighth pole.” 

Happy American returned $15.20, $6.00 and $3.40 for the winning performance. Spa City, defending Tenacious champ Chess Chief, Business Model, Intrepid Heart, Rightandjust, Farmington Road, Beaver Hat and Five Star General completed the order of finish. 

“He’s an improving horse,” trainer Neil Pessin said. “He’s had some time off. He ran a big race at Churchill (3rd off a 7 1/2 month layoff on Nov 13) but had some trouble in that race. He’s getting better and improving every day. James said in the paddock “man he looks good.” Happy American’s just getting bigger and better and we’re looking forward to a big upcoming year with him running in the stakes series at Fair Grounds all the way up to the New Orleans Classic (March 25). We’ll see how he does over the meet and we’ll play it by ear from there.”

The 4-year-old colt by Runhappy now boasts a career record of 15-4-1-3 and a bankroll of $347,376.

Oliviaofthedesert Runs Down Wave of Goodness in The Blushing K.D. 

With a stalk and pounce victory in Monday’s $100,000 Blushing K. D. Stakes, Oliviaofthedesert’s first start in the Wayne Catalano barn was a memorable one. 

Stalking early fractions of :24.23 and :50.75 set by eventual last place finisher Mo Clare’s over a firm Stall-Wilson turf course with the rails 34 feet out, Susan Moulton’s Oliviaofthedesert made an inside bid on the turn for home, tipped out four-wide and ran down Wave of Goodness, who had gotten the jump on her, to score by a desperate head under Corey Lanerie. The 2-1 favorite Lake Lucerne settled for third. 

“She broke well and it set up the way we thought,” said Lanerie, who scored a hat trick of wins on the day. “We didn’t want to get too far back. She ended up being five or six lengths out the back but she was really comfortable and made her run. The three horse (Wave of Goodness) got the jump on me and I was worried I wouldn’t catch her in the end, but (Wayne) Catalano did a great job having her ready. She grinded it out and got the job done.”

Stopping the clock at 1:50.10, Oliviaofthedesert returned $12.00. Island Hideaway, Carpe Vinum and Mo Clare’s completed the order of finish. 

“She’s a very nice filly,” Catalano said. “Thanks to Susan (owner Moulton) for giving me the opportunity. The filly is unbelievable. The grooms deserve the credit. A nice effort by the whole team. ”

With the win, Oliviaofthedesert’s resume now reads 22-6-1-3 for $429,260.

“Wayne (trainer Catalano) is the one who got me back in the (horse) business after a lot of heartache,” said owner Susan Moultan. “He is so kind to the horses. They know it and I know it too.” 

Spooky Channel Returns to Win the Buddy Diliberto Memorial 

On October 22, 2021, the $80,000 claim NBS Stable’s claim Spooky Channel rewarded trainer Jason Barkley with his first career graded stakes score in the Sycamore (G3) at Keeneland. After a setback that cost him over a year of racing, “Spooky” rewarded Barkley and his team once again, this time for their patience. 

In what was his first start in over 14 months, the soon to be 8-year-old gelding Spooky Channel made an early move to engage the pacesetting Gentle Soul through soft fractions of :24.68 and :51.01 over a firm Stall-Wilson turf course with the rails 34 feet out. He took over at the top of the stretch under jockey James Graham and drew clear in the stretch to win the $100,000 Buddy Diliberto Memorial by 2 1/4 lengths over the late closing English Tavern. Big Agenda checked in third. 

“There was a little concern with him being off so long,” Graham said. “Jason’s (trainer Barkley) plan was to have him ready for today and he did a good job. I was able to lean against him (the pacesetter) Gentle Soul the whole way. I picked him up. It took a little while to get to the next gear, but when he did, he accelerated.”

Crossing the finish line in 1:48.41, Spooky Channel paid $9.80, $5.20 and $3.00. The pacesetting 2-1 favorite Gentle Soul, who drew in off the also eligible list, settled for fourth. Temper Tantrum, Risk Manager, Bizzee Channel and Captivating Moon completed the order of finish. 

With the win, the gelded son of English Channel now sports a record of 26-12-4-0 and a bankroll of $661,722. 

“True team effort,” Barkley said. “James (jockey Graham) didn’t fight with him. He let him do what he wanted to do. We have a lot of options. The more options the better as a trainer. We know he can win at 1 1/2 miles. We’ll just let him tell us what he wants to do.”


Racing at Fair Grounds is back on Thursday with the first post scheduled for 1:15 p.m CT and a card of eight races on the dirt. On Saturday, Dec 31, the stakes action picks back up with the $100,000 Pago Hop, $100,000 Woodchopper, the $100,000 Louisiana Futurity (Boys), and the $100,000 Louisiana Futurity (Girls).


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

Corona Bolt with Florent Geroux aboard leads the field into the stretch and goes on to capture the 73rd running of the Sugar Bowl Stakes at Fair Grounds.