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Scabbard Slight 7/2 Favorite in Wide Open, 14-Horse Lecomte
Grade II Golden Rod winner Finite defined favorite in Silverbulletday;
Six stakes total on “Road to Derby Kickoff Day” at Fair Grounds
New Orleans (January 14, 2020) – Led by Joseph W. Sutton’s Scabbard, the maximum number of 14 three-year-olds are programmed to leave the starting gate in Saturday’s $200,000 Lecomte (G3), one of six stakes to be run on “Road to the Derby Kickoff Day presented by Hotel Monteleone”. Now run at 1 1/16 miles, the Lecomte offers 10-4-2-1 points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve.
Doors will open at 11 a.m. CT, early first post at noon CT for the 13-race card. General admission is $5.00, $10.00 admission to the clubhouse, and children 12 and under are free. Tickets and box reservations may be made in advance at www.fgno.com and clubhouse dining reservations may be made by calling 504-943-2200.
Installed as Mike Diliberto’s lukewarm 7/2 morning-line favorite from post four, the Eddie Kenneally-trained Scabbard (formerly known as Noose) was second in both the Saratoga Special (G2) at Saratoga and Iroquois (G3) at Churchill in advance of a fourth place run in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) at Santa Anita, a race in which he was the 5/1 third choice.
“He didn’t care for the surface too much,” Kenneally said of Scabbard’s Breeders’ Cup run. “He’s a closer and that track wasn’t playing well to closers that day. He fought on and ran his race and got up for fourth.”
A son of More Than Ready, Scabbard has trained at Palm Meadows in Florida in advance of the Lecomte. Corey Lanerie, who was aboard in the colt’s first three races, will be reunited with him on Saturday.
“We gave him (Scabbard) a little freshening after that race (the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile),” Kenneally said. “He’s been training really well and is coming into this race sound and feeling good. We chose the Lecomte because we think he’ll enjoy the long stretch. He loves Churchill Downs and I think the Fair Grounds surface is somewhat similar so I think he’ll handle the ground.”
“You never know for certain with these young horses how far they’ll want to go,” Kenneally continued. “With his running style, he seems like the further the distance gets the better he will be. You never know for sure until it happens, but I the way he finished in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile the further the better for him. There are (Kentucky) Derby points available (in the Lecomte). We knew it would be a full field but we think he fits with those horses and if he runs his race he’ll do well.”
Trainer Mark Casse, who won the 2019 Lecomte (G3) with eventual Risen Star (G2) and Preakness (G1) champ War of Will, has a potential pair of aces for Saturday’s edition in John C. Oxley’s Enforceable (15/1 ML, post 10) and HRH Prince Sultan Bin Mishal Al Saud’s Lynn’s Map (5/1 ML, post 14). The connections are “happy” with post 10 for Enforceable, who has already negotiated two turns four times from six career starts. Third in the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at Keeneland in advance of a fourth in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) at Churchill, the three-year-old son of Tapit returns to the races off a quartet of local works. Julien Leparoux is named to ride.
According to assistant trainer David Carroll, post 14 for Lynn’s Map isn’t as bad as it looks.
“I think if it were one mile and seventy yards (previous distance) it would be much worse,” Carroll said of Lynn’s Map’s post. “It looks like there will be some speed towards the inside. I’d imagine we’ll just have to break well and drop in somewhere and try to get a good trip going into the first turn.”
While out on his own, Carroll won the 2004 Lecomte with Fire Slam.
“My first thought was, man, not the fourteen.” Carroll continued. “But he’s been training forwardly and is an improving horse. You want to see improvement every race and even with this post I think we’ll be fine. Miguel (jockey Mena) will work out a trip and we’ll see what happens. The main thing is the horse is doing awfully well and we’re excited about his condition and what he’s shown us. We’ll find out what direction we’ll go from this race.”
A maiden winner at second asking over a one-turn mile at Churchill on November 8, the son of Liam’s Map passed his first two-turn test in fine fashion in a follow-up allowance race at Fair Grounds, defeating the champion Monomoy Girl’s highly regarded half-brother and Lecomte rival Mr. Monomoy (post two with Florent Geroux).
“We were a little bit afraid once Mr. Monomoy opened up that we weren’t going to get it,” Carroll said after the race. “But Corey [Lanerie] said he really accelerated and rode through the wire and I’m glad we got the win. I think this will turn out to be a very important race.”
Trainer Brad Cox was admittedly disappointed that Madaket Stables, Michael Dubb, and Doheny Racing’s Mr. Monomoy lost that race and he openly questioned the son of Palace Malice’s want for added distance. Three weeks later, he is a bit more optimistic.
“His two works since the race have been very, very good (with) great gallop outs,” Cox said. “I’m hoping he needed the two-turn experience. He got beat by a horse (Lynn’s Map) who had a one-turn mile race under his belt. I think the draw (post two) is ok. There is some speed outside of him. We can kind of sit from the inside, save some ground around the first turn and see what happens. I think he can step up and he’s going to have to. We’re going to find out a lot, most importantly, should we keep pointing for the first Saturday in May?”
Florent Geroux has the return call aboard Mr. Monomoy.
A sharp debut sprint winner on December 21 at Fair Grounds, Scott and Evan Dilworth’s Sycamore Run garnered quite of bit of respect on Mike Diliberto’s morning line at 6/1. He drew post 13 with Adam Beschizza up for trainer Joe Sharp.
“Physically he looks a little more like a sprinter, but he’s very mentally stable,” Sharp said last week. “He’s got a lot of gears. In those big fields, having tactical speed is always important for position, but also the ability to shut off and save something for the end is crucial. I think he has those qualities. Whether he’s going to be a 1 ¼ mile horse down the road remains to be seen, but I think in the early stages of his road to Louisiana Derby, I think this step should be well within his scope.”
Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen, who enters the day’s action with 999 career stakes victories, counts the Lecomte as two of them (2008 with Z Fortune and 2002 with Easyfromthegitgo). He has three horses entered in this year’s renewal — Calumet Farm’s Excession (post five with Colby Hernandez, 12/1 ML), and a pair for Winchell Thoroughbreds and Willis Horton Racing in Halo Again (post seven with Joe Talamo, 15/1 ML) and Silver State (post nine with Ricardo Santana, Jr., 5/1 ML).
Rounding out the field (with jockey/trainer, post and ML odds) for the Lecomte (race 13 at 5:55 p.m. CT): Arnaldo Monge and Rey Hernandez’s Finnick the Fierce (post one, Leon/R. Hernandez at 15/1); Anton Kubacak’s Perfect Star (post three, Albarado/Gelner at 30/1), Calumet Farm’s New Eagle (post six, G. Saez/Maker at 20/1), P. Dale Ladner’s Jack the Umpire (post eight, S. Bridgmohan/Brinkman at 20/1), Tamaroak Partner LLC’s Bango (post 11, M. Pedroza/G. Foley at 20/1), and Calumet Farm’s Shashashakemeup (post 12, Graham/Desormeaux at 20/1).
Grade II Golden Rod Winner Finite Defined Favorite in Silverbulletday
Off of three consecutive wins, including a most recent score in the Golden Rod (G2) at Churchill, Winchell Thoroughbreds and Thomas J. Reiman’s Finite has been installed as the 6/5 morning line favorite over seven 3-year-old filly rivals in the $150,000 Silverbulletday. Run over 1 mile and 70 yards, the top four finishers in the Silverbulletday will earn points (10-4-2-1) on the Road to the Longines Kentucky Oaks.
Finite’s trainer Steve Asmussen has taken the Silverbulletday on two previous occasions — with eventual Kentucky Oaks (G1) winner Summerly (2005) and War Echo (2009).
A daughter of Munnings, Finite has won sprinting, routing and on turf. In her first sloppy track and two-turn try last out in the Golden Rod, she stalked the early pace before gutting out the win. She will break from post position six with Ricardo Santana, Jr. aboard.
After scoring in the race with Monomoy Girl in 2018, trainer Brad Cox knows how to plot out a successful road to the Kentucky Oaks, and this year he has another daughter of Tapizar who hopes to follow in her stablemate’s hoof steps. Even with Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) winner British Idiom plotting a course towards the Rachel Alexandra (G2) at Fair Grounds on February 18 and rising star Taraz “needing a little more time than four weeks between starts” and heading to Oaklawn for the Martha Washington at Oaklawn on February 1, Cox still has a live Silverbulletday shot with LNJ Foxwoods’ Portrait, the 7/2 second choice who will break from post seven with Florent Geroux. After breaking her maiden over seven furlongs at Ellis Park by 12 ½ lengths in late August, Portrait would return to run third as the 6/5 favorite in the Pocahontas (G2) at Churchill on September 14. In tight between horses early, she was a bit rank into the first turn, stalked from the pocket, had aim in the stretch but evened out.
“We are very excited,” Cox said of Portrait. “I talked to Alex Solis (bloodstock agent for LNJ Foxwoods) and basically said that I didn’t think it was necessary to go into the first-level allowance right now. She’s training as well as she’s trained and I feel comfortable to try this stake off the layoff. There’s a quality filly in there who has won a graded stake (Finite) and she deserves to be favored, but if we can get a good trip, she’ll make a good account of herself. I’ve always liked this filly. She’s very talented.”
Trainer Dallas Stewart, who won the 2014 edition of the Silverbulletday with eventual Kentucky Oaks champ Unbridled Forever, has an improving filly for this year’s renewal in Mark and Nancy Stanley’s Tempers Rising.
Following some less than ideal trips, it took the daughter of Bayern five tries to win for the first time. Even in her maiden breaker last time out at Churchill, she was pinched out at the start, shuffled back, steadied then hung four-five wide all while closing into a pedestrian pace.
“She’s a nice filly that can run all day long,” Stewart said. “In her work last week she had a really nice gallop out (five furlongs in 1:00 3/5 breezing on 1/5).”
Tempers Rising finished up her final major preparation for the Silverbulletday with a half mile breeze in :50 4/5 on Sunday morning at Fair Grounds. She will break from the rail and Julien Leparoux, who was aboard for her last two starts, is named as the pilot for this 10/1 shot.
A Silverbulletday wild card is Silverton Hill LLC’s Pass the Plate, who has run on turf in all three career starts, winning her last two in visually impressive fashion, for trainer Paul McGee. She will break from post position two at 8/1.
“Ultimately you have to just try them,” McGee said of running the daughter of Temple City on the main track. “She’s always worked well on dirt, not exceptional but she hasn’t shown she doesn’t like it. She had a bullet at Churchill a couple months ago (November2, best of 36) and has had some good breezes here. She’s worked in company and outworked them pretty handily. (Saturday’s jockey) Shaun Bridgmohan was on her (in the works) and he was impressed.”
Rounding out the field (with jockey/trainer, post and ML odds) for the Silverbulletday (race 12 at 5:23 p.m. CT): Mt. Brilliant Stable LL and Orrin Ingram’s Ursula (post three, Murrill/Stidham at 12/1), Ben and Sheila Rollins’ His Glory (post four, Graham/Amoss at 6/1), TOLO Thoroughbreds and Iron Oaks’ Maga Suite (post five, Albarado/Glover at 20/1) and Lothenbach Stables’ She Can’t Sing (post eight, G. Saez/Block at 8/1).
Supporting Stakes Offer Mix of Quality and Quantity
G1 winner Hog Creek Hustle to make seasonal debut in Duncan F. Kenner
Four stakes for older horses will also be presented on the January 18 program — the $125,000 Colonel E.R. Bradley Stakes at 1 1/16 miles over the Stall-Wilson Turf Course, the $100,000 Louisiana Stakes G3 UPGRADED) at 1 1/16 miles, the $100,000 Duncan F. Kenner Stakes at six furlongs and the $100,000 Marie G. Krantz Memorial Stakes for fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles on grass. Take note that the purses for the Louisiana, Kenner and Krantz were all raised from $75,000 to $100,000 and that Fair Grounds has eliminated handicap conditions for stakes races. These races will now be weighted under allowance conditions.
$100,000 Duncan F. Kenner Stakes
(6 furlongs, 4yo/up)
Something Special Racing’s Hog Creek Hustle, the 18/1 upset winner of the seven-furlong Woody Stephens (G1) at Belmont in July for Vickie Foley, has been installed as the 9/5 second choice behind Autumn Hill Farms Racing Stable Inc.’s Bobby’s Wicked One (7/5) for Saturday’s $100,000 Duncan F. Kenner for dirt sprinters.
Hog Creek Hustle competed in all three of Fair Grounds’ road to the Kentucky Derby stakes as a 3-year-old, with a second in the Lecomte (G3) his best finish. In advance of the Woody Stephens upset, the four-year-old son of Overanalyze would cut back to one turn for the Pat Day Mile (G3) at Churchill on May 4, finishing a deep closing fourth. Sixth in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) at Santa Anita on November 2, Hog Creek Hustle is set to make his 4-year-old debut in the Kenner. He’ll leave from the rail in the compact field of five with Corey Lanerie aboard.
Off four wins in five career starts at Fair Grounds and a sharp score in the locally run Thanksgiving Classic on November 28, Bobby’s Wicked One could be the public choice come post time for Al Stall, Jr. The low mileage 5-year-old’s signature win came in the Commonwealth (G3) at Keeneland last April.
At 6/1 in the morning line, Richard Snyder, Connie Snyder, Brett Setzer and Billie Jo Stetzer’s 4-year-old colt Malpais could offer some value in the Kenner. Twice a winner at Fair Grounds for trainer Joe Sharp, the son of Hard Spun will be making his first start since finishing seventh in the Chick Lang (G3) at Pimlico.
“He had a little bit of an issue pop up after the Chick Lang (last start on May 18),” Sharp said on January 5. “We’ve given him the time. He’s coming back like a bear. Bigger, stronger and doing everything well within himself, so we are pretty excited about his year. He’s a really nice horse. We tried the Lecomte with him last year, but he didn’t show the desire to want to settle and rate within the pack and conserve that stamina over a longer distance. That’s fine. There’s a lot of good opportunities for sprinters out there.”
Rounding out the field (with jockey/trainer, post and ML odds) for the Duncan F. Kenner (race 2 at 12:20 p.m. CT): AJ Suited Racing Stable’s Do Share (post four, Leparoux/N. Casse at 5/1) and Michael Hui, Hootie Racing LLC and WSS Racing LLC’s Pete’s Play Call (Santana, Jr./Maker at 6/1).
$100,000 Marie G. Krantz Memorial Stakes
(1 1/16th miles turf, F&M 4yo/up)
At odds of 7/2, Connie and Richard Snyder’s Quebec is the lukewarm favorite in an extremely contentious field of 11 female turf route veterans entered for Saturday’s $100,00 Marie G. Krantz Memorial.
A six-time winner, all on turf, the six-year-old daughter of Into Mischief was most recently seen finishing a close fourth in the Pan Zareta run over 5 ½ furlongs of yielding Fair Grounds turf on December 28. A stakes winner around two turns, Quebec should appreciate the stretch out off the needed run for trainer Joe Sharp. From the rail, Adam Beschizza has been named to ride.
An easy 6 1/4- length winner of the “off the turf” running of the Blushing K.D. over a sloppy Fair Grounds main track on December 21, Stonehaven Steadings LLC’s Notapradaprice is the 4/1 second choice in the program. Trained by Eddie Kenneally, the 6-year-old daughter of Paddy O’Prado is a six-time winner on turf and she’s won nine races from 28 starts overall. Declan Cannon will get a leg up and leave from post six.
Rounding out the field (with jockey/trainer, post and ML odds) for the Marie G. Krantz (race 9 at 3:52 p.m. CT): Robert E and Lawana Low’s Smart Emma (post two, Graham/Margolis at 6/1), Darcia A. Fantucchio and Callan Strouss’ Don’t Tell Marge (post 3, Lanerie/Howard at 15/1), Hinkle Farms’ Stave (post 4, G. Saez/Jones at 6/1), La Signare (FR) (post five, Bridgmohan/Walsh at 9/2), Desi Boyz LLC’s Makealittlemischief (post seven, Murrill/B. Flint at 12/1), Alex and JoAnn Lieblong’s Area (post eight, Santana, Jr./Asmussen at 8/1), William B. Bradley and Carl Hurst’s Divine Queen (post nine, Sanjur/Bradley at 12/1), Jerry Jamgotchian’s Lounge Act (post 10, Leon/Reed at 20/1) and Ivan Dalos’ Avie’s Minieshaft (post 11, Leparoux/J. Carroll at 20/1).
$100,000 Louisiana Stakes
(G3, 1 1/16th miles, 4yo/up)
Off a breakthrough campaign which saw him win a pair of graded stakes and place in two others, Tom Durant’s Silver Dust has been tabbed as the 3/1 morning line favorite for Saturday’s newly graded Louisiana Stakes (G3) for older route horses. A winner just once from his first 15 starts and the runner-up in last year’s Louisiana, the now 6-year-old son of Tapit won both the Mineshaft (G3) at Fair Grounds and the West Virginia Governor’s Stakes (G3) at Mountaineer during his 2019 campaign for trainer Bret Calhoun.
“He’s always had that kind of ability but his antics stunted his progress,” Calhoun explained last week. “He was bad in the paddock, bad in the gate, tough to ride. We gelded him last summer, but even that wasn’t a cure-all. Two races after the procedure, he flipped in the gate and had to be scratched. It’s just taken him a long time to mature. He still pulls his stunts at times. He’s gotten pretty smart and knows the difference between the mornings and afternoons. He can be perfect when schooling, but you still can’t trust him on race day.”
From post two, Jack Gilligan, whom Calhoun credits for much of Silver Dust’s success, will once again pilot on Saturday. Off a runner-up finish in the locally run Tenacious Stakes on December 21, Sayjay Racing LLC, Greg Hall and Brooke Hubbard’s Blended Citizen has been installed as the 7/2 second choice for trainer Brad Cox.
The winner of the Peter Pan (G3) at Belmont as a sophomore, the now five-year-old son of Proud Citizen had run six consecutive unsuccessful races on turf prior to being transferred to Cox in November.
“We worked him a few times on the dirt,” Cox explained earlier this month. “Five days out (of his Nov. 28 win) he was doing phenomenal at Churchill and I thought why not (run back on dirt).”
Dirt, albeit sloppy, is where Blended Citizen remained for the Tenacious, but his rally fell a head short as the 9/5 favorite. Florent Geroux remains aboard and the duo will leave from post three.
Rounding out the field (with jockey/trainer, post and ML odds) for the Louisiana (G3) (race 10 at 4:21 p.m. CT): Don’t Tell My Wife Stables and Monomoy Stables, LLC’s My Boy Jack (post one, Desormeaux/Desormeaux at 8/1), Whisper Hill Farms and Three Chimney’s Farm’s Gun It (post four, Santana, Jr./Asmussen at 9/2) Lothenbach Stables Inc.’s Captivating Moon (post five, B. Hernandez, Jr./Block at 6/1), James and Mary Durlacher’s Roiland (post six, Graham/Amoss at 12/1), L and N Racing’s Tone Broke (post seven, Talamo/Asmussen at 10/1) and St. George Stables’ Kukulkan (Mex) (post eight, Mena/F. Gutierrez at 9/2). With the exception of Gun It and Kukulksn, the rest of the field has been cross-entered in the Colonel E. R. Bradley on turf.
$125,000 Colonel E.R Bradley Stakes
(1 1/16th miles turf, 4yo/up)
A 12-time winner from 21 lifetime starts on turf, Flurry Racing Stable LLC’s Mr. Misunderstood has been installed as the 7/2 morning line favorite for Saturday’s Colonel E.R. Bradley for older turf routers. He’s drawn post 14 with regular rider Florent Geroux aboard, but with several Bradley horses cross-entered in the Louisiana Stakes (G3) on dirt, chances are he’ll move in at least a few spots.
A three-time winner over the Fair Grounds’ Stall-Wilson turf course, the now 6-year-old gelded son entered his most recent assignment in the River City (G3) at Churchill Downs on November 1 on a four-race losing streak. Somewhat dismissed at odds of 9/2, he stalked the pace early while in the clear before grinding out a narrow victory.
“Winning that race was huge,” Cox said. “We were starting to doubt him a little bit, thinking maybe he had lost a step. He moved a little too early in the race at Remington (narrow miss before the River City), but ran well. For him to come back and get the job done in a graded stake was huge. He’s just a hardknocking, solid horse and he loves to train at Fair Grounds.”
Programmed to oppose Mr. Misunderstood (with jockey/trainer, post and ML odds) for the Colonel E. R. Bradley (race 11 at 4:52 p.m. CT):
L and N Racing’s Tone Broke (post one, Santana, Jr./Asmussen at 15/1), Don’t Tell My Wife Stables and Monomoy Stables, LLC’s My Boy Jack (post two, Desormeaux/Desormeaux at 12/1), Sayjay Racing LLC, Greg Hall and Brooke Hubbard’s Blended Citizen (post 3, D.G. Garcia/Cox at 6/1), AJ Suited Racing Stable’s Dontblamerocket (post 4, Leparoux/N. Casse at 12/1), Hooties Racing LLC and Michael Hui’s Space Mountain (post five, Lanerie/Maker at 12/1), Tom Durant’s Silver Dust (post six, Gilligan/Calhoun at 8/1), Louie Roussel III’s Sailing Solo (post seven, Murrill/Roussel at 15/1), Paradise Farm Corp’s Temple (post eight, C. Hernandez/Maker at 12/1), Bella Cavello’s Midnight Tea Time (post nine, Beschizza/Sharp at 12/1), Michael Hui, Hootie Racinng LLC and WSS Stables’ Parlor (post 10, Talamo/Maker at 10/1), Gaining Ground Racing LLC’s Factor This (post 11, Bridgmohan/Cox at 8/1), Lothenbach Stables Inc.’s Captivating Moon (post 12, B. Hernandez, Jr./Block at 8/1) and James and Mary Durlacher’s Roiland (post 13, Saenz/Amoss at 20/1). Tone Broke, My Boy Jack, Blended Citizen, Silver Dust, Captivating Moon and Roiland are all cross-entered in the Louisiana Stakes (G3).
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