02/25/2017 8:10PM

Enterprising outduels stablemate Oscar Nominated in Fair Grounds Handicap

Lou Hodges Jr.
Enterprising leads a one-two finish for trainer Mike Maker in the Fair Grounds Handicap.

NEW ORLEANS – The trainer Mike Maker seems to have a bottomless supply of turf stakes horses. On Saturday at Fair Grounds, it was Enterprising’s turn to step forward as he won the Grade 3, $125,000 Fair Grounds Handicap by three-quarters of a length over the Maker-trained favorite, Oscar Nominated.

One Mean Man was third and was followed by Bullard’s Alley, Granny’s Kitten (another Maker horse), Golden Soul, and Blame Angel. Maker scratched Greengrassofyoming from the race, and Western Reserve, who might have been favored, also was withdrawn Saturday.

Enterprising was bred by Glen Hill Farm and campaigned by that operation and trainer Tom Proctor through last July, when he was purchased by the Maxis Stable and turned over to Maker, who settled him into his south Florida string. Enterprising, who had bounced among high-end claimers, allowance races, and stakes for his original connections, won a $100,000 stakes in November at Gulfstream Park West and was beaten a neck Jan. 21 in the Sunshine Millions Turf, his most recent start.

The Fair Grounds Handicap had a Grade 3 in front of it, but with the two scratches the race lacked depth for the class level, and in the end, all Enterprising had to do was outrun Oscar Nominated.

Oscar Nominated and Florent Geroux made the lead, and after a decent opening quarter-mile in 23.98 seconds really slowed the pace on the backstretch, going a half-mile on a fast-playing course in a 49.83. Julien Leparoux settled Enterprising in second, never falling more than a length or so behind the leader before playing his hand at the top of the stretch. Oscar Nominated, coming off a second-place finish in the 1 1/2-mile John Connally at Sam Houston, might have been caught slightly flat-footed as Enterprising let fly a superior turn of foot to take a half-length lead to the stretch call, and with Enterprising laying down an 11.44-second closing furlong, Oscar Nominated could never get back on terms.

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Enterprising, who carried 118 pounds, two fewer than Oscar Nominated, stopped the timer in 1:48.80 for 1 1/8 miles on a firm course. He paid $8 to win.

Enterprising, a 6-year-old gelding, is by Elusive Quality and out of Indy Blaze, by A.P. Indy.