Updated on 09/18/2011 1:41AM

Graham puts resounding end to cold streak


NEW ORLEANS - Jockey James Graham went 48 races without a win at the start of the Fair Grounds meet before breaking out with three consecutive victories on Thursday's card. The first was a front-running score aboard Scarlet Butterfly in the seventh race. As he returned to the jockeys' room, well-wishers shouted congratulations to Graham, who flashed a smile in acknowledgement.

"I had a real case of second-itis," said Graham. "But you know things happen like that. You have to roll with the punches. My agent told me, 'Just keep trying, keep doing what you're doing.' "

Graham wasted no time returning to the winner's circle, riding Zetetic to a neck victory over 4-5 favorite Heart of a Leader in the ninth.

"That was probably the longest I've gone without a win," he said. "I'm so happy with my agent. He's trying very hard, and a lot of the Canadian trainers have kept me on their horses, people like Mark Frostad and Malcolm Pierce."

Graham's agent is former trainer Britt McGehee.

Graham's backers were even happier when Bobby Belek charged down the center of the track to win the finale at 11-1 odds, capping off a $78.60 late double.

On Friday, Graham continued his run with a clear victory aboard Pure Thunder in the fourth race, placing him in the top 10 of the Fair Grounds jockey standings.

Graham had 81 wins at the 2004-05 Fair Grounds meet, finishing second in the jockey standings. Despite his hard-luck start at this meet, it would be tough to discount his chances to challenge the leaders before this meet is over.

"Whatever happens, you have to take it as it comes," he said.

Stewart on a roll to start meet

Trainer Dallas Stewart has sent out one live horse after another this meet, going 4-4-0 with his first 10 starters.

"We had a lot of seconds at Churchill," said Stewart after saddling Traveling Alone to win Friday's third race. "A lot of horses ran well and some of them just got beat, so it kind of set them up good for this. We've got a lot of maidens."

Some weren't maidens for long, however. The 2-year-old colts Weather Warning and Ollie Jet scored their first wins on the same day.

"Weather Warning and Ollie Jet will run back either in an allowance race or possibly the Sugar Bowl," said Stewart.

Another 2-year-old, Felonious Monk, ran second in an entry-level allowance sprint at Fair Grounds after being squeezed back on the turn.

"He just got in a little bit of bad racing luck, but he should be okay," said Stewart. "We've got another nice one who just broke his maiden late in the meet at Churchill. His name is Great Discovery. He's worked out one time here at Fair Grounds. He was due to work today, but he couldn't. The track was frozen, so it was closed to training."

Stewart also saddled a pair of fillies, Capote West and Chatham, to second-place finishes in maiden races.

"They're two nice fillies, and we've got another good one named Floral Park," he said. "She's won two races and should go in a stakes race."

Another potential stakes candidate for Stewart is Island Warrior, who won a second-level optional claimer as Stewart's first starter of the meet.

"We'll look for an allowance spot with him and maybe a stake," said Stewart.