Updated on 09/16/2011 7:48AM

Day on Drewman for Whirlaway ride


NEW ORLEANS - With an eye toward the $500,000 New Orleans Handicap, jockey Pat Day will fly here from south Florida to ride Drewman in Sunday's Whirlaway Handicap.

Day retakes the mount on * for the first time since last year, when he rode the colt to three straight wins and a third-place finish in the Iowa Derby.

"Pat said last year he was a nice-moving colt who would probably get better with maturity," said trainer Hal Williams. "But just about everyone who's ridden him has liked him."

Eddie Martin rode Drewman when he came back from a long layoff in a sprint prep here Dec. 29, and Larry Melancon was aboard for Drewman's second-place finish in the Diplomat Way Handicap. That was Drewman's first start with blinkers, and off sharp workouts and with the rail post Drewman wound up dueling on a fast pace. But he found another gear at the eighth pole, only to be run down in the final strides by Crafty Shaw.

"He's stronger now," said Williams, who has given Drewman one breeze, without blinkers, since the Diplomat Way. "He trains so hard that we've given him more days off since his last race."

The lighter training might lead to a more relaxed performance Sunday, Williams hopes, and will help keep Drewman fresh if he runs well enough in the Whirlaway to come back three weeks later in the New Orleans Handicap.

Drewman has taken heavy betting action throughout his career, and with Day to ride he might well be favored over opponents that are likely to include Astrologist, E Z Glory, Milwaukee Brew, Parade Leader, and Valhol.

Mystery Giver proves a gift

Only six months and five starts ago, Mystery Giver won a second-level Illinois-bred allowance by a nose. Now, after winning the Fair Grounds Breeders' Cup last weekend, he's tentatively pointing to the $700,000 Explosive Bid Handicap at the end of the Fair Grounds meet.

Mystery Giver, who has never finished worse than second in eight turf starts, has steadily improved since late summer, winning the Autobot Stakes at Hawthorne and finishing second in the Woodchopper Stakes here in his last start before the Fair Grounds BC. That race was Mystery Giver's first against older horses, and he rather easily outfinished a solid group by 1 1/4 lengths.

It's all gravy for trainer Richie Scherer, who has Mystery Giver only because his regular trainer, Chris Block, does not have a regular winter training base. Block's family, which races under the name Team Block, bred and own Mystery Giver, a brother to the graded stakes winner Ioya Two, and Block will resume training the colt after Fair Grounds ends.

Mystery Giver's next race could come Feb. 23 at Sam Houston in the $200,000 Connally Breeders' Cup, Scherer said, and a good performance there would propel the colt to the Explosive Bid.

Pletcher barn warming up

The Todd Pletcher barn finally shook its meet-long slump last week, winning a race three days in a row and four races in five days.

"We just started getting some breaks," said Pletcher's Fair Grounds assistant, George Weaver.

The Pletcher tally now stands at seven wins from 49 starts here, and six of those wins have come with young turf horses. Daring Bid, who won an allowance Friday, is Pletcher's only dirt winner of the meet.

Chamrousse may go two turns

Add Chamrousse to the list of fillies possible for the Feb. 16 Silverbulletday, a Grade 3 stakes for 3-year-old fillies. Chamrousse, trained by Niall O'Callaghan, is unbeaten in two starts, both of them sprints, and impressively won an allowance race here last month. The Silverbulletday will be her first start around two turns.

Tuesday, O'Callaghan gave Chamrousse a five-furlong work, which O'Callaghan timed in about 1:02. The breeze was not listed on Fair Grounds's official work tab.


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