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Fair Grounds notes: After a slow Churchill meet, Peitz making up for lost time
By Bob Fortus
NEW ORLEANS – After a Churchill Downs fall meet that couldn’t have gone much worse for trainer Danny Peitz, the Fair Grounds meet couldn’t have started much better for him.
“When I was in Kentucky, every horse got either a bad post or wound up on the bad part of the racetrack,” Peitz said. “They came here. They still had the same conditions. Everything’s falling into place.”
At Churchill, two second places were Peitz’s only in-the-money finishes from 15 starters. But at this meet, Peitz won with four of eight starters and has seven in-the-money finishes.
“I only won three last winter,” said Peitz, who saddled 26 starters last season at the Fair Grounds.
Come-from-behind turf victories by the 3-year-old filly Ausus and the 2-year-old colt Mughaadir – both Shadwell Farm homebreds – capped the last racing week for Peitz.
“Last time, she was too far out of it,” Peitz said of Ausus’s eighth-place finish in a second-level allowance race at Churchill. She was last much of the way before making up plenty of ground. In her optional claiming race Dec. 22, she settled less than seven lengths off the early pace.
“She was more in the race, got the trip. She’s just been very consistent, a trier. You know she’s a racehorse.”
The day before, Mughaadir overpowered maidens in a four-length victory in his sixth start. He “kind of hung a little bit” in 1 1/8-mile races at Keeneland and Churchill Downs, and the cutback to about 1 1/16 miles for the Fair Grounds race might have made the difference, Peitz said.
“This colt might not want to go a mile and an eighth,” he said.
Peitz is considering stakes races for three of his Fair Grounds winners.
Ausus and Zapper Belle, who won the Pago Hop on the opening weekend, might run in the Marie Krantz on Jan. 19, he said. The feature that day is the Grade 3 Lecomte, the first two-turn stakes prep for the Louisiana Derby. Hawaakom, who won a two-turn maiden race Dec. 15 in his second start, might run in the Lecomte, Peitz said. Hawaakom finished seventh in a sprint at Churchill in his debut.
“He wants to run long,” Peitz said. “The first time, he was running a little green. He got an education.”
Mylute points to Lecomte
Mylute, who scored a 10 3/4-length victory over General Election in a first-level allowance race for 2-year-olds Wednesday, will run next in the Lecomte, trainer Tom Amoss said.
Ridden by Rosie Napravnik, Mylute stalked a slow pace – the half-mile split was 50.04 seconds – before sweeping to the lead on the final turn and pulling away. He ran a mile and 70 yards in 1:44.20.
“Mylute had yet to show that he could get a distance of ground successfully,” Amoss said. “His last two races were at Delta Downs. That’s a small track with tight turns. It didn’t really seem to suit him. So that [performance] was really encouraging.”
Mylute, who has won two of seven starts, was coming off a third-place finish in the Grade 3 Delta Downs Jackpot, a 1 1/16-mile race. He finished second in the Jean Lafitte, a mile race at Delta Downs.
Gold Mark Farm owns Mylute, a son of 2007 champion sprinter Midnight Lute and the Valid Expectations mare Stage Shop.
“I don’t know how much of the race was him being impressive or the other horses not getting the distance,” Amoss said. “But he did it the right way, and it’s a good prep for the Lecomte.”
Homecoming of sorts for Lanerie
Louisiana native Corey Lanerie, who is spending his first meet at Gulfstream Park after calling the Fair Grounds his winter home since the early 1990s, was in town Wednesday to ride General Election.
“It’s weird to come back and see everybody for a day,” said Lanerie, who was winless with two mounts. “It’s good that I’m trying to move to bigger and better things, and to see all the people who helped you get there.”
Lanerie got off to a slow start at Gulfstream, but has picked up the pace lately. His nine victories from 55 mounts through Thursday include wins on Nikki’s Sandcastle in the El Prado Stakes and Claiming Crown Emerald.
“It’s actually been a lot better than expected,” Lanerie said. “Kentucky people didn’t run right away. I went there not knowing anybody but the Kentucky people. Being the leading rider at Churchill helped. If I’d been here, maybe I wouldn’t have won nine. I’m thrilled how things are going.”
Lanerie said he’s adjusting to the Gulfstream track, which is different from the Fair Grounds.
“You’ve got to be up close,” he said. “The stretch is a lot shorter. It’s kind of a more momentum track.”
A goal for the winter is to find a possible Kentucky Derby mount. Lanerie said he’s excited by the distance potential of Dewey Square, whom the jockey rode to a third-place finish in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes.
Bind may run in an allowance
Trainer Al Stall Jr. said he’d like to run Bind next in an allowance race, “probably short.” Bind, making his first start since Kentucky Derby Day in 2011, ran six furlongs in 1:10.34 in a two-length victory Dec. 22 against first-level allowance foes.
As a debuting 3-year-old in February 2011, Bind ran the fastest six furlongs of the 2010-11 meet (1:08.80). Stall said he was looking for a more controlled race from Bind in his comeback race.
“He acted good in the paddock,” Stall said. “He was good all the way around.”
Albertrani outfit ‘hands-on’
Trainer Lou Albertrani is spending his fourth meet at the Fair Grounds, but his first since 2004-05.
“I’m glad to be back,” said Albertrani, who is best known for training 1999 champion sprinter Artax. “I really enjoy it here.”
He and his wife, Denise, are caring for four horses.
“We do everything ourselves,” Lou Albertraini said. “We’re hands-on.”
Denise Albertrani said: “We always wanted to come back, but just didn’t have the horses to run here.”
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