04/01/2012 4:03PM

Fair Grounds: Gantry completes sprint stakes sweep in Duncan Kenner

Hodges Photography/Lou Hodges Jr.
Gantry wins the Duncan F. Kenner Stakes at Fair Grounds in a stakes record 1:08.58.

NEW ORLEANS – Gantry has proved to be the sprinter of the winter during the 2011-12 Fair Grounds meet, completing a sweep of the three Fair Grounds dirt-sprint stakes with a stakes-record performance in the $145,000 Duncan F. Kenner on Sunday.

Racing inside, a little more than a length behind the scorching pace of Joe Hollywood and Cash Refund, Gantry tipped three wide at the top of the stretch, where he does his best running. It took him most of the straightaway to get to a game Joe Hollywood, who wasn’t stopping despite setting splits of 21.67 seconds for a quarter-mile, 44.24 for a half, and 55.93 for five furlongs. But Gantry has looked relatively relentless this winter, squeaking out stakes wins over Cash Refund in the Thanksgiving and Gaudin, and he wore down Joe Hollywood to win by three-quarters of a length. Time for the six furlongs was 1:08.58, the fastest clocking of the meet and the fastest ever in the Kenner.

“I think he just continues to get better and better,” said trainer Ron Faucheux, who took over Gantry’s training when the Brittlyn Stable of Maurice and Evelyn Benoit privately purchased the 5-year-old gelding from New York connections last fall.

Joe Hollywood, third in the Thanksgiving and Gaudin, ran as well as he could in defeat, holding firm until deep stretch despite the taxing pace.

“This one was for all the money, and he ran great,” trainer Steve Asmussen said.

Cash Refund, who pressed the pace until upperstretch, tired late and was nipped for third by late-running Sweetsouthernmoon. Zero Rate Policy was fifth, while favored Florida shipper Soaring Stocks broke awkwardly, raced wide, and checked in last of six.

Gantry, by Pulpit, had never won a stakes before joining the Faucheux stable, but now he is probably headed to a Grade 1, with the Churchill Downs Handicap on Derby Day his near-term goal, Faucheux said.