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Fair Grounds: Louisiana Derby could attract a baker's dozen
By Marcus Hersh
As long as the prospective stakes fields hold together during the next week, Fair Grounds’s 2011-2012 race meeting is going out with a loud bang.
A field that might swell to 13, headed by Risen Star stakes runner-up Mark Valeski, is expected for the Grade 2, $1 million Louisiana Derby, the featured race on the Sunday, April 1 finale, while the $500,000 New Orleans Handicap could wind up with the deepest cast in the older-route-horse division so far this season.
Fair Grounds stakes coordinator Scott Jones reported Friday that the connections of about a dozen 3-year-olds might enter their horses when the Louisiana Derby is drawn Monday. Mark Valeski, the locally based Larry Jones-trained colt who emerged from relative obscurity to finish a nose behind El Padrino in the Feb. 25 Risen Star, projects as the favorite, with Z Dager, the Risen Star third-place finisher, and Florida shipper Discreet Dancer, third in the Fountain of Youth Stakes, also certain to attract significant attention.
Other possible runners are Rousing Sermon, the Southern California-based colt who finished second by a neck last December in the Grade 1 CashCall Futurity; Windsurfer, a Todd Pletcher-trained, WinStar Farm-owned maiden winner on Feb. 18 at Gulfstream; Finnegans Wake, third to Hansen last out in the Gotham Stakes; Lecomte Stakes winner Mr. Bowling; Hero of Order and Afford, respectively fourth and sixth in the Risen Star; Fire Alarm, a first-level allowance winner March 2 at Fair Grounds; and Comiskey’s Humor, who set a five-furlong track record in a $10,000 maiden-claimer earlier in the meet.
Cigar Street, the Street Sense colt who won a two-turn maiden race on March 10 at Fair Grounds by more than 13 lengths, was scheduled to have a key workout Friday, but that breeze was pushed back one day because of sloppy track conditions. Trainer Steve Margolis said a decision on whether Cigar Street would start in the Louisiana Derby or the Illinois Derby a week later would probably be reached sometime later on Sunday.
Mission Impazible won the 2011 New Orleans Handicap and is expected to return for another try. He heads a strong field also expected to include 2011 Kentucky Derby runner-up Nehro; Pants On Fire, the 2011 Louisiana Derby winner; Toby’s Corner, the 2011 Wood Memorial winner who will be making his first two-turn start at age 4; Redeemed, third behind Hymn Book and Mission Impazible in the Grade 1 Donn on Feb. 11; and Nates Mineshaft and Fast Alex, the one-two finishers in the Feb. 25 Mineshaft Handicap at Fair Grounds.
The Grade 2, $500,000 Fair Grounds Oaks, the headline event next Saturday, figures to go with a shorter field than either of the major Sunday races, in part because several of the best members of the 3-year-old filly crop seem to be based this winter at Fair Grounds. Topping the Oaks field are Summer Applause, who won the Feb. 25 Rachel Alexandra Stakes in a sharp performance, and Avie’s Sense, who had only a maiden win atop her r é sum é before finishing a strong second in the Rachel Alexandra. Also expected for the race are Believe You Can, the Silverbulletday Stakes winner, and unbeaten Small Kitchen.
- 1.Posted 06/18/2013 09:59AM
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