By Ryan Martin
No strangers to stakes level success this season, Underpressure and Marquee Prince both recorded their second stakes triumphs of the Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots meet on Saturday afternoon. Both races were scheduled for the turf but were moved to the main track.
In the $60,000 Black Gold Stakes, Marquee Prince stalked the pace set by Spectacular Gem who set slow opening fractions of 24.35, 48.41 and 1:13.04 while jockey Florent Geroux kept the son of Cairo Prince just to his outside. Around the three-sixteenths pole, Marquee Prince took the lead and kicked clear to win by 3¼ lengths in a time of 1:39.02. Tobacco Road got up for second while pacesetter Spectacular Gem rounded out the trifecta.
Completing the order of finish were Uncapped, Vivid Verse and Logical Myth.
The Black Gold was a second stakes victory for Marquee Prince, who won the Lloyd ‘Captain’ Maestri Memorial Overnight Stakes on February 2 last time out. He ran two times against stakes company on dirt in the Street Sense Stakes at Churchill Downs and the Springboard Mile at Remington Park, both times were fifth-place finishes.
“He has good tactical speed and he ran a good race on the dirt at Remington Park,” Geroux said. “I think he’s more comfortable on the turf. He has class and good tactical speed which allowed me to take a good position and from there he went nicely to the wire.”
The victory was a fifth stakes win of the meet for two-time Fair Grounds leading trainer Brad Cox, who now leads all other trainers in stakes wins this meet.
“It worked out well,” Cox said. “Florent put him in a good position and he kicked on well. We’ll talk it over the with owners. Florent said he did struggle a little bit with the dirt and was getting a little tired. The track could be a little heavy as well. We’ll talk things over with the owners and take it from there.”
Marquee Prince paid $5.00, $2.60 and $2.10 while Tobacco Road returned $3.00 and $2.40. Spectacular Gem paid $3.00 to show.
The win in the Black Gold Stakes brought Marquee Prince’s lifetime earnings up to $150,451 after acquiring $45,000 from the win. His lifetime record now stands at 7-4-0-0.
Bred in Kentucky by Brereton Jones and owned by Rick, Donna and Jeff Awtrey, Marquee Prince is out of the Include broodmare Try to Remember who produced Grade I-placed Holiday Soiree. He was purchased for $215,000 by bloodstock agent Clay Scherer at the Fasig-Tipton October Yearling Sale in Lexington, Ky. where he was consigned by Airdrie Stud.
Later in the card, Louisiana Champions Day Classic winner Underpressure ($10.80, $6.00 and $3.80) returned to New Orleans from Delta Downs to score another stakes win against Louisiana-breds in the $60,000 Dixie Poker Ace Stakes.
Trained by Chris Richard and guided by jockey Corey Lanerie, the son of Birdstone was well off the pace in race’s early stages while Afleet Ascent set slow opening fractions of 24.36, 47.83 and 1:12.92. Down the stretch, Underpressure closed ground and got up in the final sixteenth of a mile to win by 1¼ lengths in a time of 1:38.92. Mageez ($11.20 and $6.00) was second and Gladyousawme ($13.20) was third.
Rounding out the order of finish were Grande Basin, Extra Credit, Magic Vow, Afleet Ascent, Theoryintopractice and Grand Lewegee.
Lanerie scored his fifth stakes victory of the meet aboard Underpressure in the Dixie Poker Ace Stakes and now leads all other jockeys at Fair Grounds in terms of stakes wins this meet.
“It probably benefitted us when it came off the grass,” Lanerie said. “I thought I was on the best horse. Chris did a good job of getting the horse ready to run. When I rode him on Champions Day,he ran one of his better races. I thought the way that it was playing today, I saw some speed in the race. I thought I would hustle him away because it was a flat mile and then kind of bide my time and get my way through. Thank God we found the right trip and got him to the wire first.
Underpressure earned $36,000 from Saturday’s win and enhanced his bankroll up to $505,632. He has won nine of his 27 career starts.
Owned by Mallory Greiner and bred in Louisiana by James McIngvale, Underpressure is out of the Grade I placed Charismatic broodmare Charming Colleen who also produced Goodprofit – a two-time stakes winner against Louisiana-breds.