By Ryan Martin
An exciting and action packed day of racing at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots awaits fans and bettors on Saturday, December 22. Dubbed as “Santa Super Saturday”, the program features six stakes races, all ofwhich carry a purse of $75,000.
One of the six stakes events carded for Santa Super Saturday is the Tenacious Stakes, which is a mile and 70 yard event over the main trackfor 3-year-olds and upward. The 9-5 morning line favorite for the TenaciousStakes is G M B Racing’s Tom’s d’Etat who will attempt his fourthstraight win for trainer Al Stall, Jr. Breaking from post seven under jockeyShaun Bridgmohan, the 5-year-old son of Smart Strike’s last start was a 7¼length win in a Churchill Downs allowance optional claiming event on November 4over fellow Tenacious aspirant Pioneer Spirit (post nine, 4-1, FlorentGeroux) and graded stakes winner Guest Suite. The win was his first startsince a nine-length romp over the main track at Saratoga back in July 2017 overgraded stakes winner Far From Over. Tom’s d’Etat is out of the Giant’s Causewaystakes winning broodmare Julia Tuttle, whose dam Candy Cane (ARG) is a full siblingto leading sire Candy Ride (ARG). Tom’s d’Etat will make his stakes debut inthe Tenacious Stakes and boasts a record of five victories in eight lifetimestarts.
Breaking to the inside of Tom’s d’Etat from post six is Cooptado(ARG), who has not won since a 17-1 upset victory in last year’s edition ofthe Tenacious Stakes. Trained by Tom Morley, the 8-year-old son of Equal Stripes (ARG) boasts the highest career bankroll in the nine horse field with $1,191,400 in earnings. Much of these earnings were acquired during his international campaign earlier in his racing career and include the Group 1Gran Premio Nacional-Argentine Derby in 2013 as well as the Group 1 Longines Singapore Gold Cup in 2015. He is owned by Imperial Racing and will be guidedby jockey Colby Hernandez.
Wesley Hawley’s Thirstforlife (post eight, 7-2, JoeRocco, Jr.) will be seeking his seventh career victory. Trained by Hawley, the 4-year-old gelded son of Stay Thirty acquired four of his six wins after being claimed by his current trainer in October 2017. One of these victories took place over the main track at Fair Grounds on December 17 of last year against optional claiming company. Two starts later, he was second in the Grade III Mineshaft Handicap behind The Player.
Bloom Racing’s Snapper Sinclair competed in two of the local preps on Churchill Downs’ Road To The Kentucky Derby last meet andwill be looking for his first victory on the main track when he breaks frompost five at 8-1 odds. Trained by Hall of Fame conditioner Steve Asmussen, the3-year-old son of City Zip was third in the Grade III Lecomte behind Instilled Regard and was narrowly beaten by Bravazo in the Grade II Risen Star Stakes.His lone stakes victory to date took place on grass in the Fasig-Tipton Turf ShowcaseJuvenile Stakes at Kentucky Downs last September. Snapper Sinclair’s only otherwin was a turf maiden victory at Saratoga in August 2017 over eventual two-timestakes winner Gidu (IRE). He will be ridden by Ricardo Santana, Jr.
Completing the field are Westfest (post one, 20-1, Eddie Martin, Jr.), Colonelsdarktemper (post two, 10-1, James Graham), Nun the Less (post three, 10-1, Rodney Prescott) and Phat Man (post four, 12-1, Adam Beschizza).
The Tenacious Stakes is named in honor of Dorothy Dorsett Brown’s 11-time stakes winner at Fair Grounds who raced for six years. Trained by John Theall, Tenacious won three editions of the Louisiana Handicap as well as two runnings of the New Orleans Handicap.
In the following race, a field of nine will go into line for the $75,000 Buddy Diliberto Memorial Stakes, where Steve Landers Racing’s Big Changes is the 3-1 morning line favorite for the 1 1/16-mile event on the Stall-Wilson Turf Course. Trained by two-time Fair Grounds leading trainer Brad Cox, the 6-year-old gelded son of Midshipman was has found the winner’s circle in all but one of his six starts this year. Last time out, stable mate Mr. Misunderstood handed Big Changes his first loss of 2018 in the Grade III River City Handicap. His successful season includes three stakes victories which took place in the John Henry Stakes at Evangeline Downs on July 7, the West Virginia House of Delegates Speakers Cup Stakes at Mountaineer Racetrack on August 4 and the Unbridled Stakes at Louisiana Downs on September 2. Big Changes will break from post five under jockey Florent Geroux. Cox and Landers are also represented by Pioneer Spirit (post four, 8-1, Joe Bravo) who is cross-entered in the Tenacious Stakes.
Trainer Mike Maker and owner Ken and Sarah Ramsey have Sir Dudley Digges (post one, 12-1, Colby Hernandez) and Oscar Nominated (post seven, 7-2, Ricardo Santana, Jr.) entered in the Diliberto Memorial Stakes, both of which boast the two highest bankrolls in the field with lifetime earnings of $901,924 and $1,501,889 respectively. A 5-year-old son of Gio Ponti, Sir Dudley Digges last found the winner’s circle when he took a trip to the Caribbean for the Barbados Gold Cup at Garrison on March 3. Named after a 17th century English diplomat who served in the House of Commons, Sir Dudley Digges has won two other stakes races when taking Canada’s Queen’s Plate Stakes in July 2016 and the Old Friends Stakes at Kentucky Downs in September 2017. Stable mate Oscar Nominated is a three-time graded stakes winner and a full brother to four-time Grade I winner Oscar Performance. The 5-year-old son of Kitten’s Joy has placed in all four of his starts over the Stall-Wilson Turf Course, including a respective second and third in the Grade III Fair Grounds Handicap and Grade II Muniz Memorial Stakes in 2017. His lone win over the surface took place in the Black Gold Overnight Stakes in March 2016.
M and J Thoroughbreds and Riverside Bloodstock’s Great Wide Open (IRE) (post two, 7-2 James Graham) will make his 12th start this year in Saturday’s race. The 6-year-old son of Starspangledbanner (AUS) was a wire-to-wire winner over the Stall Wilson Turf Course last time out and will look to mimic that effort for trainer Conor Murphy. He was second in two stakes this year, most notably in the Grade I Shadwell Turf Mile two starts back at odds of 81-1. In his prior effort, he was second beaten a length in Kentucky Downs’ Tourist Mile on September 1. A victory in the Diliberto Memorial Stakes would give Great Wide Open his first stakes win.
Completing the field are Teodoro (IRE) (post three, 15-1, Shaun Bridgmohan), Memory Bank (post six, 8-1, Mitchell Murrill), Team Colors (post eight, 8-1, Adam Beschizza) and Twenty Four Seven (post nine, 8-1, Jose Valdivia, Jr.).
The Buddy Diliberto Memorial Stakes in named in honor of the late local sports commentator who dedicated over 50 years to the New Orleans sports media scene. His sports casting career included working with NBC affiliate WDSU-TV from 1980-90 and then ABC affiliate WVUE-TV from 1966-80.