Gentle Soul, Two Emmys Renew Acquaintances in Saturday’s Fair Grounds Stakes; Colonel Power & Stall Memorial Also Carded on Turf
New Orleans, La (Feb. 16, 2023) – A trio of turf stakes are scheduled for Louisiana Derby Preview Day on Saturday, Feb.18 at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots. First post is noon CT for the 13-race card, which features a $500,000 guaranteed pool, all-stakes Pick 5 that concludes with the $400,000 Risen Star (G2) presented by Lamarque Ford-Lincoln. Coupled with the $300,000 Rachel Alexandra (G2) presented by Fasig Tipton, both 3-year-old stakes begin the next stage of Kentucky Derby and Oaks prep races to offer 50 points to the winner and 20-15-10-5 for second through fifth. The all-stakes Pick 5 sequence includes two turf races, beginning with the $100,000 Colonel Power, scheduled as race 9, and the $150,000 Fair Grounds Stakes (G3) presented by Horse Racing Nation, scheduled as race 11. The $100,000 Albert M. Stall Memorial will go on the turf as race 6. Limited to fields of eight, all three turf races will be run with the portable rail at 34 feet.
Exactly as he did last year, Wolfe Racing and Hugh Robertson’s Two Emmys enters Saturday’s Fair Grounds Stakes off a game run in the $100,000 Col E.R. Bradley that fell half a length short. Trying to avenge that narrow defeat in the 2022 Bradley, the 7-year-old two-time graded stakes winner by English Channel pressed the eventual winner Cavalry Charge but faded to finish near the back. West Point Thoroughbreds, William Sandbrook, and Robert Masiello’s Cavalry Charge will again be waiting for Two Emmys, looking to defend his Fair Grounds Stakes title. Along with a host of live runners, the Col E.R. Bradley winner Gentle Soul looks to carry his form forward for trainer Bret Calhoun. Eight older males will go 1 1/8 miles on the Stall-Wilson turf course with a post time of 5:09 CT.
Though Two Emmys fell short in the two legs of last year’s older turf route series, the Hugh Robertson trainee was able to pull off the victory in the finale, beating Santin by 2 1/2 lengths in the $300,000 Muiz Memorial (G2).
“He’s doing well,” Robertson said. “He didn’t know what to think running out in the middle of the track the other day (in the Col E.R. Bradley). He never really relaxed, didn’t switch his leads right. A speed horse is not used to being out that wide. Hopefully he’ll figure it out this time.”
Regular rider James Graham will break Two Emmys, the 3-1 favorite in the morning line, from post No. 2.
Martin Mueller, Don Ladd, Richard Reid, Joe Bowley, and Arvydas Cieminis’ Gentle Soul pulled off the 9-1 upset in the Col E.R. Bradley by kicking late down the 11 path to nail Two Emmys at 1 1/16-miles wire. In the Diliberto, the pace was soft and Gentle Soul found himself on the lead under regular rider Rey Gutierrez, but faded and finished fourth. Bret Calhoun has this lightly-race 6-year-old in fine form, as he looks for his fourth win in his fifth try over the local turf course.
“He’s proved to us he wants to be back off the pace, covered up and swing out,” Calhoun said.
Tabbed as the 7-2 second-favorite in the morning line, Gentle Soul drew post No.4.
West Point Thoroughbreds, William Sandbrook, and Robert Masiello’s Cavalry Charge won last year’s edition of the Fair Grounds Stakes as a 35-1 longshot. The 6-year-old trained by Dallas Stewart has not returned to the winner’s circle since. Over five months since his last race, he exits an eighth place finish in the Mint Million at Kentucky Downs, a course he has proven success over.
“Cavalry Charge is coming off the layoff,” Stewart said. “He’s a solid horse and doing well. He’s put in four really good works, and he could be ready, could need one, but I think he’s ready to start. For him he needs to get into the race, that’s the key.”
Brian Hernandez Jr. rode him to last year’s win but has not been aboard for his last four runs as David Cohen has taken over riding duties on Cavalry Charge, who will break from post No. 3.
Here is the complete field for the Fair Grounds Stakes from the rail out (with jockey, trainer, and morning line):1. Tiz the Bomb (Brian Hernendez Jr., Ken McPeek, 9-2); 2. Two Emmys (James Graham, Hugh Robertson, 3-1); 3. Cavalry Charge (David Cohen, Dallas Stewart, 6-1); 4. Gentle Soul (Rey Gutierrez, Bret Calhoun, 7-2); 5. English Tavern (Deshawn Parker, Michelle Lovell, 8-1); 6. Pixelate (Luis Saez, Mike Stidham, 8-1); 7. Corelli (Florent Geroux, Jonathan Thomas, 8-1); 8. Bay Street Money (Tyler Gaffalione, Mike Maker, 6-1).
Godolphin’s consistent 6-year-old mare Lake Lucerne will be in search of her first stakes victory against a field of eight fillies and mares in Saturday’s $100,000 Albert M. Stall Memorial (Listed) at Fair Grounds.
Run at 1 1/16 miles on turf, the Al Stall Memorial will go as Race 6 of 14 with a post time of 2:21 p.m. CT.
Trained by Brendan Walsh, Lake Lucerne finished a half-length behind Wave of Goodness in last month’s $100,000 Marie G. Krantz Memorial, the local prep for the Al Stall Memorial. Prior to the Marie G. Krantz Memorial, Lake Lucerne rallied from nearly seven lengths off the early pace in the $100,000 Blushing K D Stakes but finished third to Oliviaofthedesert and Wave of Goodness.
“She’s as consistent of a filly as we’ve had, just been a little unlucky,” Walsh said. “She hasn’t quite gotten to win (a stake) yet. She keeps knocking on the door and sometimes you get them knocking, knocking, knocking and hopefully Saturday will be her day. I know eventually she’ll win one. She surely will benefit from having run on the track twice, she’s been doing well since and she should be there or thereabouts anyway.”
South Florida-based jockey Tyler Gaffalione, who rode Lake Lucerne in the Marie G. Krantz Memorial, will be at Fair Grounds for the mount and break from post No. 3.
The Al Stall Memorial field also includes John Gallegos stakes winner and stablemate of Lake Lucerne, My Philly Twirl, Team Block’s recent local allowance winner Trail Ridge Road, and Jerry Namy’s seven-time winner Island Hideaway (GB).
Here is the complete field for the Al Stall Memorial from the rail out (with jockey, trainer, and morning line): 1. Carpe Vinum (Luis Saez, John Ortiz, 10-1); 2. Clara Peeters (GB) (Corey Lanerie, Chris Hartman, 4-1); 3. Lake Lucerne (Gaffalione, Walsh, 3-1); 4. My Philly Twirl (Florent Geroux, Brendan Walsh, 5-1); 5. Island Hideaway (GB) (Rey Gutierrez, Karl Broberg, 4-1); 6. Soft Touch (Mitchell Murrill, Mike Stidham, 6-1); 7. Train Ridge Road (Jareth Loveberry, Chris Block, 6-1); 8. Russian Mafia (Deshawn Parker, Eduardo Rodriguez, 10-1). Also Eligibles: 9. Flatter Me Silly (Lanerie, Neil Pessin, 6-1); 10. Lil Kings Princess (Gutierrez, Ortiz, 20-1); 11. Shotgun Hottie (John Velazquez, Cherie DeVaux, 5-1).
The Al Stall Memorial is named in honor of the longtime chairman of the Louisiana Racing Commission and member of the Fair Grounds’ Hall of Fame.
My Philly Twirl (trainer Brendan Walsh)
“I thought she ran well (in the Krantz Stakes),” Walsh said. “She was a little disappointing in her previous run at Gulfstream before that and her race at Keeneland before that. She seemed to handle things well that last race, and I hope again that she will move up a little bit after her first run on the track and that shouldn’t put her too far away from the win either.”
Big Chief Racing, Rocker O Ranch, and Keith Desormeaux’s Surveillance has swept the local sprint stakes this meet to-date, but he’ll have to transfer that form to the grass as the $100,000 Colonel Power will be run 5 1/2 furlongs on the Stall-Wilson turf course. In an oversubscribed field of 14 runners, eight will make the starting gate to take on the 5-2 morning line favorite, including the Phoenix (G2) winner Manny Wah and last year’s Colonel Power champion Pyron. Schedule as race 9, post time for the 33rd running of the Colonel Power is 4:05 p.m. CT.
The contention doesn’t stop there in what has the feel of a wide-open race. Gary Barber, Wachtel Stable and Peter Deutsch’s Ice Chocolat, a five-time turf winner who showed fine form throughout 2022 at Woodbine, is entered from the Mark Casse barn. The two-time stakes champion, Ed and Susie Orr’s All in Sync, exits two graded stakes tries and is fresh off a 4-month layoff for trainer Steve Asmussen. Also squarely in the mix is Twin Magnolia Farm’s Angaston. Trained by Lon Wiggins, the 8-year-old stakes winner has only run once in the past 3 1/2 years, winning a third-level allowance at Churchill Downs in June of 2021. He won that race off a similarly lengthy layoff for Saturday’s jockey Mitchell Murrill.
After winning the Thanksgiving Classic, Scherer, and Kenner on the dirt, Surveillance has racked up six wins at Fair Grounds, five on the dirt and one on the turf. Breaking his maiden in December of 2021 going five and 1/2 furlongs on the turf, the Keith Desormeaux trainee has done little wrong when racing in New Orleans, as all six of his triumphs have come here in just seven starts.
“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. He’s run well on the turf and is just doing great all around, so he’s ready for (the Colonel Power).”
James Graham stays aboard to pilot the 6-year-old gelded son of Constitution from post No. 8.
“(Surveillance) is a bit of a character,” Graham said. “But he shows up when he’s here. He quickens late but he does idle a bit once he makes the lead.”
Here is the complete field for the Colonel Power from the rail out (with jockey, trainer, and morning line):1. Ice Chocolat (Rey Gutierrez, Mark Casse, 7-2); 2. Twirling Rose (Jareth Loveberry, Eduardo Rodriguez, 15-1); 3. All in Sync (Tyler Gaffalione, Steve Asmussen, 9-2); 4. Pyron (Declan Carroll, Al Stall Jr., 10-1); 5. Yankee Seven (Aubrie Green, Cesar Govea, 10-1); 6. Manny Wah (Corey Lanerie, Wayne Catalano, 5-1); 7. Angaston (Mitchell Murrill, Lon Wiggins, 9-2); 8. Surveillance (James Graham, Keith Desormeaux, 5-2); AE 9. Evan Sing (Flavien Prat, Al Stall Jr., 5-1); AE 10. My Pal Mattie (Mitchell Murril, Lee Thomas, 5-1); AE 11. Sign of War (Emanuel Nieves, Cesar Govea, 12-1); AE 12. Kennesaw (Jareth Loveberry, Eduardo Rodriguez, 12-1); AE 13. Straight Answer (Florent Geroux, Brad Cox, 7-2); AE 14. Hunter John (Rey Gutierrez, John Ortiz, 8-1).
Brad Cox (trainer of Straight Answer, also-eligible)
“He had sprint form back when he was in Europe,” Cox said. “I really didn’t think he was a mile and sixteenth horse, but we didn’t have many options here on the grass. We want to try him short, but I don’t know if he’ll draw in.”
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