03/13/2012 2:05PM

Fair Grounds: Stakes could be next for Cigar Street


Trainer Steve Margolis’s quiet period early in 2012 came to an end the last two racing weeks at Fair Grounds. Last week alone, Margolis won three races in four days, among them the Allen Lacombe Memorial with Miz Ida, but it was second-time starter Cigar Street’s two-turn maiden win Saturday that created the greatest buzz.

Three-year-old Cigar Street, a troubled fifth as the favorite in his Feb. 3 debut, stretched from a sprint to a route, made a clear early lead under Shaun Bridgmohan, and drew clear from 10 rivals in the stretch for a 13 3/4-length win. His 1 1/16-mile time of 1:43.75 produced a Beyer Speed Figure of 99.

[DAN ILLMAN: Under the Radar for Kentucky Derby - Cigar Street]

Margolis, who trains Cigar Street for owner Jake Ballis, said the colt had come out of his win in good physical condition and didn’t rule out bringing him back in a stakes race.

“We’re going to sit down and talk about it,” Margolis said Monday. “We have a lot of options. We’ll wait and see how he goes back to the track before we make a concrete decision. It’s a long year, but everyone gets a little excited this time of year.”

Cigar Street is a son of Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense, and his dam, Arcadiana, is a half-sister to the great Cigar.

Margolis also confirmed that the graded stakes class turf runner Cherokee Queen has been retired to become a broodmare.

All-sources handle stabilizes

Betting handle on Fair Grounds races stabilized on a year-to-year basis during February after falling from 2010-11 levels during the first two-plus months of the ongoing meet.

All-sources average daily handle during 17 February race days was $2,724,822, an increase of 0.8 percent compared to 2011.

All-sources average daily handle for the entire season is still down 6.4 percent compared to last season, declining from $2,988,142 to $2,796,531 through the end of February.

Handle figures are provided by the Louisiana State Racing Commission, since Fair Grounds, as per Churchill Downs Inc. policy, does not publicize them.