12/14/2012 2:13PM

Fair Grounds: Deville's claiming spree paying dividends


NEW ORLEANS – During this holiday shopping season, trainer Carl Deville has been buying horses at the Fair Grounds.

In the first three weeks of this meet, Deville claimed five horses, including two from one race.

“We’re shopping, but we’re racing,’’ Deville said. “We’re just trying to get better horses.’’

Easy Jazz, a gelding claimed by Deville for $5,000 in April 2011 at Evangeline Downs, has paid off at this meet with two 5 1/2-length victories in starter allowance/optional claiming races.

On opening day, Easy Jazz ran 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:04.58, and on Dec. 7 he zipped six furlongs in 1:10.46. Allowance competition might be in his future, Deville said.

“He’s doing good now,” Deville said. “He’s eligible for starters until the end of the year.”

Deville, who through Thursday had three wins from 27 starts at this meet, said he’s training about 35 horses at the Fair Grounds and another 25 at his farm in Opelousas, La. Among his owners is New Orleans resident Joe Rink, who puts together ownership groups, Deville said.

Deville saddled his first winner in 1993 and has 324 career victories from 3,251 starts. This year, he has reached career highs for wins, 39, and starts, 325.

He said he stabled on the East Coast for about 15 years. His biggest victory came with Meadow Breeze in the Grade 1 Matron at Belmont Park in 2006.

Deville has raced at the Fair Grounds for more than 10 seasons but didn’t run many horses until last season, when he won with 18 of 107 starters and finished 11th in the trainer standings.

Seaneen Girl starting back

Working for the first time since winning the Grade 2 Golden Rod last month at Churchill Downs, Seaneen Girl breezed a half-mile in 50.60 seconds Tuesday at the Fair Grounds. She ran the final furlong in about 12 seconds. Jockey Miguel Mena was riding.

“She comes smoking down the lane,” trainer Bernie Flint said as he watched from his vehicle parked along the stretch. “We’ve got a long way to go. She’s growing right now as we speak.”

Flint, whose long-range goal for Seaneen Girl is the Kentucky Oaks, said, “She’ll have one or two [races] here, then she’ll go up there.”

The local series of two-turn stakes races for 3-year-old fillies is the Silverbulletday on Jan. 19, Grade 3 Rachel Alexandra on Feb. 23, and Grade 2 Fair Grounds Oaks on March 30.

Flint purchased Seaneen Girl privately for owner Naveed Chowhan after she finished second to Spring Venture in the Grade 3 Mazarine in October at Woodbine.

“It was the pedigree initially that got me in there,” Flint said of his interest in Seaneen Girl, a chestnut daughter of Spring At Last and the Afternoon Deelites mare Afternoon Krystal. “I like that horse Spring At Last. I watched as many [of his offspring] as I could around the country.’’

Seaneen Girl, who has won two of six starts, began her career under trainer Robert Tiller at Woodbine. She made a winning debut against $50,000 maiden claimers before finishing fifth in the Ontario Debutante. After losing twice in $40,000 claiming company, she ran in the Mazarine.

“I was watching her the whole time,” Flint said. “I didn’t expect her to go in that stakes race.”

Flint went to Woodbine to see her after the Mazarine and made the deal.

“I liked what I saw,” he said. “Just like you go to a sale, they had some other people interested in her, too. I gave a big premium.”

He didn’t divulge the price, but did say it was “quite a bit more’’ than her claiming prices.

Gal About Town works toward Silverbulletday

Trainer Bret Calhoun said that Gal About Town, who breezed a half-mile in 50.80 seconds Thursday in her first workout since finishing second in the Golden Rod, will start her 2013 campaign in the Silverbulletday.

Gal About Town took the lead entering the stretch in the Golden Rod but lost by a half-length to Seaneen Girl.

“She just got tired,” Calhoun said. “I thought she ran a real good race. I was disappointed she didn’t win. That filly really needs a target. She kind of pulled herself up.”

Hollywood Hit headed to Bonapaw

Trainer Mike Stidham is preparing Grade 3 winner Hollywood Hit for the Bonapaw on Dec. 22.

Hollywood Hit, a 6-year-old gelding owned by Peter Redekop, is coming off a victory in an allowance/optional claiming race in early September at Woodbine.

Terry Jordan was his trainer there.

“I trained for Peter Redekop,” Stidham said. “I had Comedero for him. The season is over in Canada, so [Hollywood Hit] came south.”

Hollywood Hit, who has earned $660,447 in 22 starts, will be making his turf debut in the Bonapaw.

Papieses donate to rescue group

Remember Me Rescue, a non-profit organization founded by trainer Dallas Keen and wife Donna to rehabilitate and re-train retired racehorses, received a boost from Richard and Karen Papiese of Midwest Thoroughbreds Inc.

Donna Keen said that Richard Papiese “called me totally out of the blue” and donated $10,000 to the foundation, and he also pledged to build a rehabilitation barn at the Keens’ farm in Burleson, Texas.

“People who run that many horses, people think they don’t care, but he does care,” Donna Keen said.

Midwest Thoroughbreds Inc. leads the nation’s owners in victories and earnings.

◗ Jockey James Graham on Thursday rode his 1,500th winner, Dangerous Dream in the first race.

◗ A daughter of 2003 Fair Grounds Oaks winner Lady Tak won a maiden race Thursday. Melody Lady, a 2-year-old Unbridled’s Song filly ridden by Rosie Napravnik for trainer Steve Asmussen, ran six furlongs in 1:11.00 to win by 2 3/4 lengths in her second start.