West Will Power Disposes of Art Collector in New Orleans Classic

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  • Spooky Channel Runs Down Rising Empire in the Muniz Memorial
  • “She’s Special–She’s Didia,” Winner of the Tom Benson Memorial
  • Closing Day at Fair Grounds will end with three stakes and a Mandatory Late Pick 5 payout with a $134,863

New Orleans, La (March 25, 2023) – Tending to the pace throughout the $500,000 New Orleans Classic (G2) presented by Relyne GI by Hagyard, Gary and Mary West’s Kentucky homebred West Will Power stormed to the lead in the stretch, and put away the field to win by 4 3/4 lengths. 

Trained by Brad Cox and ridden by Flavien Prat, who also piloted Kingsbarns to the Louisiana Derby winner’s circle, West Will Power completed 1 1/8 miles in 1:47.95 on the “fast” main track at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots.

“He broke well, got us into a good position and he was traveling really well all the way around,” Prat said. “He really kicked home well when I asked him to make a move.”

From the rail, Treasury opened up on the lead and cruised through the opening calls in :23.55 and :47.30. West Will Power was never far behind. The 4-5 favorite Art Collector tracked in third along the rail, while the Mineshaft-winner Pioneer of Medina tracked three wide in fourth. Making a stout bid past Treasury at the three-furlong pole, West Will Power proceeded to draw off in the upper stretch, while Art Collector won the place battle over Mr. Wireless. From near the back, Rattle N Roll produced a lackluster late bid down the homestretch for fourth. Happy American, Pioneer of Medina, and Treasury rounded out the order of finish. 

Art Collector, who upset the Pegasus World Cup (G1) at Gulfstream Park last time out at odds of 15-1, was held up in the pocket, but even if he had shaken free earlier, West Will Power would have proved difficult to reel in. 

“We’ve only had him the last 1 ½ years of his career and he’s been very good to us,” Cox said. “We give him time when he needs it. I’m glad the Wests (Gary and Mary) were here to enjoy it in person. It was a big performance. When he comes to run he’ll always give you a big number. Sometimes he needs some time. I thought he needed his last race (2nd in the Razorback at OP) and he rebounded well today.”

West Will Power rewarded his backers with payouts of $7.20, $3.30, and $2.40. 

West Will Power is the 4-year-old son of Bernardini out of the Wild Event dam Wild Promises. He improved his overall mark to 15-6-7-0 with overall earnings of $1,086,730. He became the 18th millionaire trained by Cox.  


Spooky Channel Runs Down Rising Empire in the Muniz Memorial

Despite being forced to close into a slow pace, NBS Stable’s Spooky Channel got the jump on the unlikely front runner Rising Empire in the final stages to win the $300,000 Muniz Memorial (G2) presented by Horse Racing Nation. With the late vet scratch of the 2022 Muniz-winner Two Emmys, nine older males entered the gates. 

The 8-year-old son of English Channel is trained by Jason Barkley. Ridden by Joel Rosario, Spooky Channel covered the 1 1/8 miles across the firm Stall-Wilson turf course in 1.54.11. The rail position on the turf was moved in from 34 to 28 feet. 

“He left out of there really well,” Rosario said. “He likes to follow another horse and he has a solid turn of foot. He knows his job and he likes to pass horses. He sees a horse in front of him and he wants to come and get them. I just wanted to take my time with him, and when it was the right time to go, then go.”

The scratch of Two Emmys left onlookers wondering who would take the early initiative in a race full of closers. Making his third turf start, Rising Empire went to the front and poked through the fractions in :24.55 and 51.14. Odds-on favorite Atone stalked along the inside in third. Settling near the back, Rosario positioned Spooky Channel two-wide, biding his time to tip out and make his late bid. Gentle Soul, likewise came late from off the pace, and as they both had Rising Empire measured up it was Spooky Channel who roared in the final stages to collar and clear the front runner, as Gentle Soul came up short but held on for third.

“This horse will always be special to me,” Barkley said. “He gave me my first stakes win, my first graded stakes win, he took a year off and came back with a stakes win. A lot of firsts for us. He’s a fun horse to have in the barn and one we will always remember.”

Spooky Channel was well-backed in the wagering and returned $9.20, $5.40, and $3.60.

Another Mystery finished in fourth. Completing the order of finish English Tavern, Risk Manager, Tiz the Bomb, Native Thunder, and the 4-5 favorite Atone, who won the Pegasus World Cup Turf (G1) at Gulfstream Park last out, finished last. 


“She’s Special–She’s Didia,” Winner of the Tom Benson Memorial

Merriebelle Stable’s Copa de Plata (G1) winner Didia (ARG) kicked off what appears to be a promising year by winning the $100,000 Tom Benson Memorial on Satuday’s Louisiana Derby Day undercard at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots. The Argentine bred is now a perfect three for three in the United States and her 1 1/4-length win in the Benson was punctuated by a stirring call from Fair Grounds track announcer John G. Dooley: “She’s special–she’s Didia!”  

Piloted by Vincent Cheminaud and trained by Ignacio Correas IV, Didia completed the 1 1/16 miles over the firm Stall-Wilson turf course in 1:46.37.

“Last year we won two races with her at Colonial, including a stakes race,” Cheminaud said. “I knew then she has a chance to be special. Off the layoff, we were starting all over. She is still learning how to relax. She won today, but she’s going to be even better next time.” 

Longshot Gather As You Go opened up to a healthy lead while punching in at the early calls in 24.07 and :49.90. Taking some brushes and bumps and a touch rank in her first start since winning August’s Old Nelson at Colonial Downs, Didia settled near the back soon enough. The favorite Adventuring stalked the leader until it was time to put her away in the second turn, producing a strong run up the homestretch rail.  Finding her stride down the center of the course, Didia loomed boldly and surpassed Adventuring. Rallying from last, New Year’s Eve got up for third as last year’s Benson winner She Can’t Sing was outkicked and settled for fourth.

It was another 1 length back to a tiring Gather As You Go followed by Russian Mafia, Island Hideaway, Trail Ridge Road, New Boss,  and Trobairitiz. 

Let go as the 3.70-1 third favorite, Didia paid $9.40, $4.60, and $3.20. The Group 1 winner now has 7 scores and 1 second out of 10 career starts for total earnings of $289,829.

A two-time group 1 winner in her native land, Didia was bred by La Manija in Argentina. She is a 5-year-old mare by Orpen out of the Rainbow Corner dam Delambre. 

$134,863 Pick 5 Carryover has Mandatory Payout on Closing Day

Closing Day for Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots’ 2022-2023 meet is on Sunday, March 26. There will be an early post time of 11 a.m. CT. The 15-race program concludes with three Louisiana-bred stakes beginning in Race 13: the $75,000 Star Guitar Stakes presented by Brittlyn Stable, the $75,000 Page Cortez, and the $75,000 Shantel Lanerie Memorial, followed by The Shantel Lanerie Breast Cancer Survivors Second Line. 

 Beginning with Southlawn’s 7-1 upset of the fair Grounds Oaks in the 11th and ending with Splitting Aces score at  65-1 in the 15th, no one hit the late Pick 5 and $134,863 will be carried over to Sunday’s Late Pick 5 which spans Races 11 – 15. All wagers, including all Pick 5’s and the Pick 6, will have a mandatory payout.



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.

Didia with Vincent Cheminaud aboard at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots