11/09/2012 3:40PM

Fair Grounds: Gantry could run in Thanksgiving Handicap

Barbara D. Livingston
Smile winner Gantry finished 11th in the Breeders' Cup Sprint.

Gantry emerged from his 11th-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint healthy and could defend his title in the $100,000 Thanksgiving Handicap on the opening-day card at Fair Grounds on Nov. 22, said his trainer, Ron Faucheux. Gantry is now based at the New Orleans track after spending the past several weeks at Santa Anita for the Breeders’ Cup.

“We’re not going to rule it out,” Faucheux said. “It’s a possibility he would run in the Thanksgiving Handicap, or we would just wait until the next one, the Gaudin Memorial.”

The Thanksgiving and $75,000 F.W. Gaudin Memorial on Jan. 26 are the first races in the Fair Grounds series for sprinters. In addition to winning both of those races last meet, Gantry also captured the track’s $145,000 Duncan F. Kenner in April. From there, he went on to take the Grade 2, $400,000 Sprint Smile Handicap at Calder as well as its Win and You’re In berth into the Breeders’ Cup.

In the BC Sprint, Gantry found himself farther off the pace than usual and finished 8 3/4 lengths behind front-running winner Trinniberg. Gantry earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 85.

“He came out of the race good,” said Faucheux. “The circumstances in the race, I don’t think it was good for him. He broke decent, but then kind of got shuffled back pretty good.”

Faucheux also said jockey Javier Castellano told him the horse was pelted hard by a good deal of kickback.

“He said he thought it really affected him,” said Faucheux. “He just never was really able to run his race.

“It was disappointing at the time. We felt like we belonged in there. He won the [Smile] comfortably. We’re glad we gave it a shot. The way the track was playing that day, if you weren’t right there from the beginning, you had no chance. You needed one type of horse that day, front-end speed. But the important thing is he came out of the race good. He’ll live to fight another day.”

Gantry flew into New Orleans on Tuesday. The horse races for Brittlyn Stable.

Stakes-naming contest

Fair Grounds is seeking fan input for the naming of a Feb. 2 stakes for 3-year-old fillies at 5 1/2 furlongs on turf. The person whose idea is selected for the inaugural running of the $75,000 race will present the trophy after the race. In addition, the winner will receive lunch for four in the clubhouse and a $100 win bet. The contest is free, and one can enter in the clubhouse/valet lobby over at Fair Grounds opening weekend Nov. 22-25; via email at namethestakesrace@fgno.com; via twitter by mentioning @FairGroundsNOLA; or by posting to the track’s site on Facebook.