Veteran Five Star General Wins the Tenacious War

Contact: Kevin Kilroy
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  • Road to the Derby undercard recaps for the Tenacious, Diliberto, Scherer, Sugar Bowl, Letllier, and Blushing K.D.

New Orleans, La (Dec. 23, 2023) – Although he lost the battle for the lead into the first turn, Elttaes Stable’s Five Star General won the war in Saturday’s $100,000 Tenacious at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots. Unphased by a rival’s attempt to seize early control, the 7-year-old veteran trained by Grant Forster came back on to finish what he started when quickest from the gates, rolling the field by open lengths in the end. 

Beating the field of eight to the lead, Five Star General was soon overtaken by Brigadier General in the first turn, and that purposeful foe traveled the opening quarter in :23.69. After repositioning to that rival’s outside, the eventual winner steadily advanced and regained control ahead of the far turn. Tracking in third all the while, Pioneer of Medina made a move into second, but coming into the homestretch, Pedroza had built an open-lengths lead and was still in hand. After settling to last early, the defending Tenacious champion Happy American came on nicely late but could not surpass Pioneer of Medina for the place spot. In winning by three lengths, Five Star General stopped the timer in 1:44.04 for 1 1/16 miles. 

“I broke sharp and I was going to take the lead, but I saw Joel (jockey Rosario aboard Brigadier General) hustle, so I let him go,” Pedroza Jr. said. “I took my horse to the outside, he relaxed for a little bit, but when we got to the backstretch he got into gear. I stayed outside a little bit and he came down a little bit more. Top of the stretch I knew I had some horse left and felt really good about it.”

Five Star General’s Tenacious victory rewarded his army of supporters with a $26.60 bounty, and place and show prices of $11.00 and $7.20 for good measure. Pioneer of Medina returned $6.20 and $4.80 while the show price on Happy American was $5.40.

“What a horse, I’m so proud of him,” Forster sent via text from Vancouver where he was celebrating his parents’ 54th wedding anniversary with them. “It was a brilliant ride by Marcelino (jockey Pedroza).”

The soon to be 8-year-old with all his parts now sports a record of 33-11-5-7 with $677,429.

With the Odds Stacked Against Him, Two Emmys Once Again Proves His Worth in the Buddy D. 

He had a ten-month layoff, a wide gate and formidable competition to overcome, but in the end the wily veteran Two Emmys was running on the Fair Grounds turf and none of it mattered. Leaving from post 11 of 12, the soon-to-be 8-year-old son of English Channel pressed down hard early into a forward position before assuming command early on the backstretch. He built a three-length lead in the stretch and held safe of a siege of closers to win the $100,000 Buddy Diliberto Memorial by a length on Saturday’s “Road to the Derby Kickoff Day” card at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots.

 With the rails down on a firm course, the early fractions of 23.61 and 47.80 set by Two Emmys and jockey James Graham were quite honest. He was hounded early on by the 3.50-1 post time favorite Law Professor, who would fade to eighth, and English Tavern, who eventually hung on for third. Storming home from well off the pace, Beatbox got up for second. Despite his status as a grade I winner and gaudy record of four wins and four placing from 11 Fair Grounds tries coming in, Two Emmys still returned $9.80, $5.20 and $3.40 to winning ticket holders. Beatbox paid $5.60 and $4.20 and English Tavern returned $10.20 to show.

“I was hoping someone would go so I could sit off, but nobody went fast enough in front of him, said jockey James Graham, who has now been aboard in five of Two Emmys eight wins. “We went pretty quick the first quarter, slowed them down the second quarter, He took a deep breath going into the second turn. Look, he’s a very cool animal. Hugh (trainer Robertson) had him ready and he run his race today.”

Two Emmys counts the 2022 Mervin Muniz (G2) among his five Fair Grounds wins. Last March he was minutes away from defending that title when track veterinarians ordered him a late scratch due to a freak mishap. According to Robertson, he stepped on an object while warming up for the race, which rendered him temporarily lame.  

“He’s a good horse and good horses overcome bad trainers,” Robertson joked. “He showed a lot of grit and ran tough. He’s pretty fast. I knew he could get the lead. He was probably a little too sharp and he didn’t really relax nicely. He went a little fast on the lead. We didn’t care if we got the lead or not, but he was going to be hard to get to back off it today. James (jockey Graham) knows how to ride him. He didn’t want to fight him to get him back off the lead, and it all worked out fine. The plan is to run him through the series of turf races here.” 

Owned by Wolfe Racing and trainer Hugh Robertson, Two Emmys (25-8-9-1) is now on the doorstep of millionaire status ($985,083). 

Just Might Repeats in Scherer For First 2023 Win

Winless in 2023, Just Might came through in the nick of time to tally one in the win column and boast a second $100,000 Richard R. Scherer Memorial Stakes. After putting away rival duelers, Griffon Farms and Michelle Lovell’s homebred built up a lead the closers couldn’t collapse, as Sosua Summer rallied within one length with Minnesota Ready a head behind for third. 

Trained by Michelle Lovell, the 7-year-old son of Justin Phillip traveled the 5 1/2 furlongs across the turf course rated firm 1:02.33, just shades off the track record of 1:01.56 set by Hogy on Feb. 25, 2017.

“(Just Might) has been fighting some tough competition,” Lovell said. “But we were really excited with how he has been doing, and this is his favorite track. I thought he would finish up better today. He lost his work partner a couple years ago when Change of Control retired, but he had a really good work in his last at Churchill. I thought we would at least hit the board.”

In the irons for the first time, Jaime Torres secured the stakes double with the Scherer to go along with his victory in the Letellier earlier on the card. 

“I had a conversation with the barn this morning,” Torres said. “And I wanted to follow their instructions. Colby Hernandez has been riding him very well so I just tried to do the same thing with him.”

Making his 49th career start in the Scherer, Just Might’s lifetime record of 12-8-10 translates to $1,100,245 in earnings. Seven of those wins have come at Fair Grounds, as his resume boasts two Colonel Power titles and a Thanksgiving Classic along with his successes in the Scherer.

Just Might returned $11.20, $6.00, $3.60. Sosua Summer paid $4.60, $2.60. Minnesota Ready returned $3.80.

Legalize Goes from Maiden Win to Sugar Bowl Stakes Winner’s Circle

Twin Brook Stables, Belladonna Racing, Nice Guys Stables, West Point Thoroughbreds, Iapetus Racing, S. Hornstock, Runnels Racing, Perrine Time Thoroughbreds, R T R Stables, Peppermint Stables, and Manganaro Bloodstock’s Legalize stalked a pair of rivals pinned to inside, put them away out of the far turn, and extended his lead in the stretch to win the $100,000 Sugar Bowl by 2 3/4 lengths over last-out stakes-winner American Rascal.

Trained by Cherie DeVaux, Legalize beat five fellow juveniles going 6 furlongs in 1:10.56, securing a natural stakes double for jockey Brian Hernandez Jr.

“He did it professionally, especially coming out of a maiden race into a stakes,” Hernandez said. “He was there for me the whole way. It was nice that he settled when those two horses went forward on his inside. When I called, he put those two away pretty easily. Through the lane he got a little green, but that comes from a lack of experience. He’s got a lot to offer going forward, and I’m looking forward to it.”

After Legalize’s gate-to-wire maiden win on the “Stars of Tomorrow II” card at Churchill Downs, DeVaux nominated the son of Constitution for the Gun Runner but opted to keep him sprinting in his encore.

“He really figured it out in his first race,” assistant trainer on the grounds, Adrianne DeVaux said. “We’ve been working out how to get all of his elements underneath him. I think he’s figured out he likes running. I’m not sure what we’ll do next, stretch him out or continue sprinting. We’ll meet with the owners and come up with a plan for his 3-year-old campaign.”

With two wins from 3 starts, Legalize has confiscated $131,775 in lifetime purses. His win-backers enjoyed cashing $5.40, $3.00 and $2.10. American Rascal paid $3.20, $2.10 while Agoo paid back $2.10 to show. 

Longshot Leslie’s Loot Steals the Dough in Letellier

After perfectly spying the leaders through the first call, James Chapman and Stuart Tsujimoto’s Leslie’s Loot made a bold move to take over the lead and hold off the late charge of Halina’s Forte to win the $100,000 Letellier Memorial. 

Tasked with 6 furlongs, the juvenile filly owned and trained by James Chapman clocked in at 1:11.39 to defeat the 3-5 favorite Halina’s Forte by 3 3/4 lengths. It was another half length back to Deboisblanc in third.  

“(Chapman) said to ride her with confidence,” Torres said of the trainer. “So I got her in a good spot and let her do the rest.” 

With her two previous wins coming on off tracks, breaking her maiden at Saratoga and winning an allowance last out at Aqueduct, Leslie’s Loot now tallies a freshman record of 7-3-1-1 with $189,940 in career earnings.

“She’s always been a nice filly with speed,” Chapman said. “She had a couple issues early on but she got over those nicely. I brought her here because I wanted Jaime (jockey Torres) to ride her. This is very special. She was a $5,000 purchase.”

Those who saw her theft coming, cashed to the tune of $38.80, $7.00 and $5.40. Halina’s Forte paid $2.40 and $2.10, while Deboisblanc returned $2.60 to show. 

Lovely Princess Gets the Bob in Blushing K.D.

Working out a perfect stalking trip under jockey Brian Hernandez Jr., Gentry Farms’ Lovely Princess got her head down in front over the game Creative Cairo to win the $100,000 Blushing K.D. at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots.  A lane opened up out of the far turn and the filly trained by Ken McPeek hit it, making the first move to the lead in the stretch. Under Florent Geroux, Creative Cairo came calling down the center of the track but got outbobbed at the wire. 

Facing six older fillies and mares across the Stall Wilson turf course, Lovely Princess covered the 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.59. 

“It got pretty close there,” Hernandez said. “Knowing my filly, when she makes the lead she looks around a little bit. When (Creative Cairo) came to her, she dug back in. She ran a game race. Her last two races have been really good.”

Earning her first stakes victory with the Blushing K.D. score, Lovely Princess now sports a 14-4-4-1 lifetime record and touts a total of  $403,295 in career earnings. 

“She’s going to stay (at Fair Grounds) and run in the next one (Marie G. Krantz on Jan. 20),” assistant trainer on the grounds, Greg Geier said. “She’s a nice little filly. She does have a tendency to wait a little bit, but luckily we held on today.”

Sent off as the betting favorite, the daughter of Twirling Candy paid $3.40, $2.20 and $2.10. Creative Cairo returned $3.40 and $2.60 and Join the Dance was worth $4.00 if you bet her to show. 


Fair Grounds resumes racing on Friday, Dec. 29 and continues through Monday, Jan. 1. Two days of stakes action are on the docket, as Saturday, Jan 30 will feature the $100,000 Wood Chopper and $100,000 Pago Hop and New Years Eve showcases Louisiana-bred juveniles in the male and female divisions of the $100,000 Futurity.


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



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