By Ryan Martin
Sandra New’s Oxford Comma has done nothing wrong in her past four outings and will seek another trip to the winner’s circle as the 3-1 morning line favorite in Saturday’s $75,000 Nelson J. Menard Memorial Overnight Stakes – a 5½ furlong event for fillies and mares over the Stall-Wilson Turf Course.
Trained by Tom Amoss, the 4-year-old daughter of Majesticperfection began her win streak over the turf at Indiana Grand Race Course turf where she won two allowance optional claiming events. Following her pair of wins in the Hoosier State, she won the Claiming Crown Distaff Dash Stakes at Gulfstream Park on December 1 before switching to the main track for the Orleans Stakes at Delta Downs on January 4.
Oxford Comma was entered in the Pan Zareta Stakes back on January 5, but opted for the stakes at Delta Downs due to the weather conditions.
“The weather was iffy here so we decided to go to Delta with her,” Amoss said. “We’re committed to this race this time around. She’s in good form, I think she’s a better grass horse than a dirt horse and her last race was on the dirt. We’ll see what happens on Saturday.”
Current Fair Grounds leading rider James Graham will guide Oxford Comma from post nine.
Oxford Comma was bred in Kentucky by John O’Meara and is out of the Lord Carson broodmare Oxford Joy. She was purchased by her owner for $30,000 at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale in 2016 from Vinery Sales’ consignment barn.
Already a stakes winner this meet, Heider Family Stables’ Contributing breaks from the four hole as the 4-1 co-second choice. Trained by two-time defending conditioner Brad Cox, the 5-year-old daughter of Medaglia d’Oro won the Pan Zareta Stakes over a yielding Stall-Wilson Turf Course last out by neck over stable mate Goldberry. The recent victory was her first start for Cox having been previously trained by Tom Proctor. While under the care of her last conditioner, she won three races, including her career debut at Laurel Park in October 2016, an allowance race over the turf at Delaware Park the following June and a second level allowance optional claiming event over the grass at Laurel Park.
Contributing will be ridden by jockey Florent Geroux.
Bred in Kentucky by Mt. Brilliant Farm and Ranch, Contributing is out of the Halo broodmare Taegu who also produced graded stakes winner Classic Elegance as well as El Fasto – the dam of 2012 Grade I Longines Kentucky Oaks winner Believe You Can.
Cox is also represented by Golden Days (post five, 12-1, Colby Hernandez) whose three career victories all took place at Fair Grounds. Owned by Klein Racing, the 4-year-old homebred daughter of Country Day was a winner over an off going on December 20 over a muddy Fair Grounds main track in her last effort.
On Probation (post one, 20-1, Declan Carroll), Sterling Miss (post two, 12-1, Chantal Sutherland), Excessivespending (post three, 4-1, Mitchell Murrill), Fiesta (post six, 6-1, Gabriel Saez), Soul Singer (post seven, 30-1, Sophie Doyle), La Dame Blanche (post eight, 10-1, Corey Lanerie), She’s All Skeet (post ten, 8-1, Adam Beschizza), Persephone’s Dawn (post 11, 30-1, Joe Rocco, Jr.) complete the field. The Nelson J. Menard Memorial Overnight Stakes is named in honor of the once leading rider at Fair Grounds who would go on to serve as the Clerk of Scales at the New Orleans oval. A jockey for more than 30 years, he retired from race riding in 1990 and would serve as clerk of scales until his passing.