11/19/2011 3:52PM

Fair Grounds attracts 109 horses for opening-day program


Opening day of the 2011-2012 Fair Grounds meet doesn’t come till Thursday, but the fields for the card were set in the first draw of the season Saturday, the results of which look fairly encouraging.

A total of 109 horses were entered on a 10-race card, but many of those are also-eligibles in over-subscribed races. Three races went with just seven entries each, and the traditional opening day feature, the $75,000 Thanksgiving Handicap, drew eight entrants.

Still, the Thanksgiving looks all right in terms of quality and bettability. The field includes defending champion Mambo Galliano, a Louie Roussel-trained 5-year-old gelding who hasn’t raced since capturing the $148,000 Duncan Kenner on closing weekend of Fair Grounds’s last meet. Also entered was Cash Refund, who lost for the first time in six Fair Grounds starts when he finished fourth in the 2011 Kenner. Gantry, based on the East Coast for the first eight races of his career, makes his first start for Roussel’s step-son, trainer Ron Faucheux, and first since being privately purchased by Brittlyn Stables. The rest of the Thanksgiving field is Southern Style, Trubs, Tidal Volume, Goldzar, and Joe Hollywood.

Co-featured on Thursday’s card is the $60,000 Mr. Sulu for Louisiana-bred turf horses. The Mr. Sulu marks the comeback race for talented Snakebite Kit, who was set to move into open stakes competition last winter in New Orleans when he went to the sidelines with an injury. Snakebite Kit has won 5 of 7 career grass races and is a perfect 4-for-4 on the Fair Grounds course.

Al Stall entered horses in more races than any other trainer on the opening day card, with runners in six races. Patrick Mouton also was active at the entry box, as were Tony Richey and Tom Amoss.

Fair Grounds races four days, Thursday through Sunday, the first two weeks of the meet before shifting to a five-day, Wednesday to Sunday format, a change from the traditional Thursday to Monday race week here. The complexion of the meet changes a couple weeks into December after Kentucky outfits settle in after the close of the Churchill fall meeting.