11/28/2013 5:35PM

Fair Grounds: Gantry by a neck in Thanksgiving Handicap

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Hodges Photography/Lynn Roberts
Gantry, ridden by Richard Eramia, beats Central Banker by a neck in the Thanksgiving Handicap.

The finish line came just in time for Gantry, who held off the onrushing Central Banker to win the $100,000 Thanksgiving Handicap at Fair Grounds for the second time in three years.

Gantry, breaking from the inside stall in a field reduced to four by the scratches of Delaunay and Foreign Production, led while pressed mildly on the outside by Mico Margarita through moderate splits of 22.81 seconds for the first quarter-mile and 46.38 for the half. Gantry shrugged off a tiring Mico Margarita in midstretch, but by then Central Banker, who had waited in third behind the leaders, had tipped to the outside and was closing strongly.

Central Banker steadily ate into Gantry’s lead in the final furlong, but the wire came before he could catch him, with Gantry home by a neck. The heavy favorite, Gantry paid $3 to win and was timed in 1:10.32 for six furlongs over a fast track. Mico Margarita got third by 2 1/4 lengths over Strong and Tough, who was taken up at the start.

Gantry, one of three winners on the day for jockey Richard Eramia and trainer Ron Faucheux, does not appear to be quite the same horse he was when he won the 2011 Thanksgiving, nor, perhaps, even as sharp as one year ago, when Delaunay handed him a convincing defeat. Purchased privately by the Brittlyn Stable more than two years ago, Gantry turns 7 on Jan. 1, and it’s a reasonable assumption that his best days are behind him.

Central Banker and, to a lesser extent, Mico Margarita might be the ones to watch coming out of the Thanksgiving. The Al Stall-trained Central Banker ran his final furlong Thursday in less than 12 seconds and has a powerful kick in one-turn races on both turf and dirt. Mico Margarita was making his first start since July, appeared to tire in the final three-sixteenths of a mile, and could move forward off this comeback race for trainer Steve Asmussen.

Rob More than 1 year ago
Same ole Marcus this year. Can you ever write an article with just positive statements ???? Whether it be a winning horse or bringing up something a jockey did 20 years ago you are the King. You are truly the "poison pen" of the Fair Grounds media.
Ray Sousa More than 1 year ago
i guess somebody bet the wrong horse in this race..hey marcus.
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
Nice comment on the winner Marcus... sheez man.
Julie More than 1 year ago
My thoughts too. Guess i'll break the news to Gantry that he's over the hill... :(
tim More than 1 year ago
Sounds like somebody bet a Central Banker
Amy Hurley More than 1 year ago
I thought the same. Those comments do not belong in a recap article, Marcus, and you really should have given Gantry his due. Save your opinions on the relative strengths of the first three finishers for when you are handicapping their next races.