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Gantry will start only once before the Breeders' Cup Sprint
Gantry’s ideal schedule for the Breeders’ Cup Sprint will be comprised of one light prep race in the Southwest region, sometime in September, said his trainer, Ron Faucheux. There’s also a chance the horse could just train up to the Grade 1, $1.5 million race, which is to be run at Santa Anita on Nov. 3.
Gantry established himself as a leading BC Sprint contender earlier this month, when he won the Grade 2 Smile at Calder. He shipped to Miami from his Evangeline Downs Training Center base in Lafayette, La., and is now back home and in light training, said Faucheux (pronounced foe-shay), a 29-year-old New Orleans native.
“We want him to run in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint,” Faucheux said. “We want to take an easy path there – keep him fit, but keep him as fresh as possible doing so. We’ll probably look to run him one more time before that, kind of a spot to keep him fit but not take too much out of him. We probably will not ship too much, try to find a spot in the area, maybe sometime in September.”
Faucheux said Gantry would be nominated to stakes both around the country and throughout the Southwest. Those in the region include the $50,000 Temperence Hill at Louisiana Downs on Sept. 8; the $100,000 Premiere at Zia on Sept. 9; and the $200,000 Remington Park Sprint on Sept. 30.
“We’ll nominate to some of those stakes and see how it plays out,” he said. “It would be fun to have a prep race in this region.”
Gantry won the Smile by five lengths July 7, earning a career-high Beyer Figure of 104. He has since returned to Lafayette, where Faucheux has a 22-horse stable. Gantry has won 4 of 5 starts since being purchased privately by the Brittlyn Stable of Evelyn and Maurice Benoit, owners of Star Guitar, the all-time richest Louisiana-bred who is trained by Al Stall Jr. Gantry, a 5-year-old by Pulpit, had previously raced in New York, and one start before the Brittlyn deal won an optional $35,000 claiming race at Belmont last October.
“We were kind of looking for a horse for opening day at the Fair Grounds,” said Faucheux. “The biggest race is the Thanksgiving Handicap, and we were able to kind of find him.”
Gantry won the Thanksgiving in his first start for his new connections, and proceeded to win the Gaudin and Duncan Kenner, also at Fair Grounds. The three races were at six furlongs. Gantry was then third in the Grade 2 Churchill Downs at seven furlongs before returning to six furlongs for the Smile.
“We’ll keep him at the distance,” said Faucheux. “He’s continued to progress. He’s a horse that’s getting better with age and maturity and he knows what he’s meant to do now. He’s established himself as a stalking-type sprinter. He’ll sit off one or two horses, and take them down in the stretch.”
Gantry’s regular rider is Richard Eramia, who leads the standings at Louisiana Downs.
Lovato back riding after two years
The nearly two years jockey Anthony Lovato has been away from the saddle have been filled with pain, both physically and emotionally. Lovato, a title winner at Louisiana Downs in 2000 who was to make his comeback at the Bossier City, La., track Saturday, has not ridden since Aug. 23, 2010.
Lovato broke his tailbone in a spill in New Mexico, and also suffered concussions. Following the injuries, he said his fiancée, trainer Mykel Lynn, asked him to retire. Lynn died this past December. Lovato, after spending months healing emotionally at his mother’s farm in New Mexico, decided to return to the saddle. He arrived at Louisiana Downs in June.
“I think going back to riding will help my grieving,” Lovato said Thursday.
“I’m trying to make a comeback. I started [getting on horses] last month. I like Louisiana. Everyone here is so nice. It’s home. I figured I’d come back home. I have a home in New Mexico, but I consider Louisiana my home.”
Lovato has won 19 stakes at Louisiana Downs, and also has had stakes success at Oaklawn and Lone Star. He had two mounts Saturday, and said as of Thursday he weighed in at 119.
“I’m still probably going to tack 119 for a while,” Lovato said. “I came here at 140, pulled all that weight in a matter of a month.
“I’m 42 right now, got quite a few years left in me, so I just figured, ‘Let’s see where this can take me.’ I’d like to get a nice horse. It’s the reason we’re in this business, one nice horse.”
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