11/24/2011 6:23PM

Fair Grounds: Gantry gives Faucheux his first stakes win in Thanksgiving Handicap

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Lou Hodges Jr.
Gantry wins the Thanksgiving Handicap by a nose over Cash Refund.

NEW ORLEANS – Gantry gave 29-year-old New Orleans native Ron Faucheux his first stakes win as a trainer. He was ridden to victory in the $75,000 Thanksgiving Handicap by Richard Eramia, who was fortunate to escape injury in a spill earlier Thursday.

Gantry ($12.20) won the first stakes of his career while racing for the ninth time and making his first start since being privately purchased and turned over to Faucheux about three weeks ago. The Brittlyn Stable of Evelyn Benoit, which won three races on Thursday’s card, privately purchased Gantry in late October.

Gantry, a 4-year-old gelding by Pulpit, was making only his fifth start on dirt and may well prove to be a player all winter in the Fair Grounds sprint division.

“I’m not surprised he ran like he did,” Faucheux said. “The long stretch really favors us.”

Racing in behind pacesetters Joe Hollywood and Cash Refund, Gantry got an ideal ground-saving trip under Eramia, who emerged unscathed after his mount, Back Street Heat, suffered a fatal breakdown on the far turn during race 6. The early fractions, wind-aided, were quick, 21.92 seconds and 44.82 for the first quarter and half, but Cash Refund, making his first start since July 3, stayed on gamely after putting Joe Hollywood away in upper stretch. Gantry, coming off the fence past the three-sixteenths pole to make his bid, edged ever closer in the final furlong, getting up to win by a nose over Cash Refund.

“The last 50 yards, he just got a little tired,” said James Graham, who rode the runner-up.

Favored Joe Hollywood was another 4 1/4 lengths back in third, followed by Southern Style, 2010 Thanksgiving winner Mambo Galliano, Trubs, Tidal Volume, and Goldzar. Winning time for the six furlongs was 1:09.62.

* Populist Politics dominated the $60,000 Mr. Sulu, winning the Louisiana-bred stakes by 6 1/2 lengths after the race was moved from turf to dirt because of heavy rain Tuesday night. Trained by Tom Amoss for Klaravich Stables and William Lawrence, Populist Politics was ridden to victory by Graham, sweeping from seventh position on the backstretch run to make the lead at the top of the stretch. He paid $4.80 as the favorite, was timed in 1:42.43 for 1 1/16 miles, and was followed home by Ide Like a Double and Blackntansatlarrys.

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