02/23/2012 4:22PM

Fair Grounds: Chamberlain Bridge looks resurgent for Colonel Power


Chamberlain Bridge won the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint and started off his 2011 season with a stakes win, and all seemed well in the world of one of the country’s top grass dashers. By the end of 2011, that had changed. Chamberlain Bridge took some tough trips and experienced some bad luck, but he lost six straight races after that first victory last year. After getting wiped out on the turn in the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, Chamberlain Bridge clunked home fourth in a Nov. 24 Churchill allowance race, and it seemed fair to wonder if Chamberlain Bridge had nowhere to go but down.

So, who was that horse scoring a dominant victory in the Bonapaw Stakes on Dec. 17 at Fair Grounds? That was the old Chamberlain Bridge, and the rebound performance that cropped up in the Bonapaw could carry over to the $75,000 Colonel Power Stakes, where Chamberlain Bridge is set to face 10 foes.

Bret Calhoun, who claimed 8-year-old Chamberlain Bridge and oversaw his rise to the top of his division, said he reevaluated everything about the way he was handling Chamberlain Bridge after coming to New Orleans.

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“You don’t want to change something that’s been so successful, and we kept our training program so similar for two years, but we needed to make some changes with him,” Calhoun said. “The fact he was 7, and the fact he runs short races, we’ve just started doing a little less. We’ve kind of put him more jogging, throwing the pony at him, and we always space his works. We used to have him on an every four-week racing schedule, but he can use more time now. We’re just trying to keep him happy and make him want it a little more.”

Chamberlain Bridge drew on the far outside for the 5 1/2-furlong Colonel Power, but that’s not a bad thing with the inner rail sitting at its innermost position on the course, and Chamberlain Bridge has the early speed to clear most of the horses to his inside.

Country Day finished second in the BC Turf Sprint but was no match for Chamberlain Bridge in the Bonapaw. If the race should be rained onto the main track, Joe Hollywood becomes the horse to beat.

Gentilly looks wide open

There are 13 Louisiana-bred 3-year-olds in the $60,000 Gentilly Stakes, a one-mile grass race, and only one among the baker’s dozen has ever won at two turns on turf. The lack of proven grass-route runners makes the Gentilly tough to grasp, and a case could be made for roughly half the field.

Look At the Time never has even tried a turf race, but it wouldn’t be surprising if he’s favored to win the Gentilly. Look At the Time, trained by Wes Hawley, was a 24-1 shot when he crossed the wire first in his career debut, a sprint race on Dec. 23. Woe to bettors who played the horse there, since Look At the Time was disqualified to fourth for a bumping incident in the stretch, and when Look At the Time returned in a two-turn Louisiana-bred maiden on Jan. 28, his odds plummeted to 3-10. Betting value aside, Look At the Time won his two-turn dirt race as easily as he’d triumphed running short, and his pedigree – by Brahms and out of an Alysheba mare – suggests a horse who will handle turf.

Geaux Wando drew post 13, but is that lone entrant to have scored a turf-route victory. Zip Motion has produced strong recent performances at the Delta bullring, and is by City Zip, a sire who can get turf runners.