11/22/2010 4:50PM

Stall, Asmussen among those ready for Fair Grounds opener

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Barbara D. Livingston
Trainer Al Stall will be represented in four races in Fair Grounds's opening-day card Thursday.

NEW ORLEANS – The gang’s all here – or most of them are. Trainers Tom Amoss, Steve Asmussen, and Al Stall, New Orleans standbys, will be well represented on opening day of the Fair Grounds meet Thursday. And the fact that opening day is Thursday − the traditional Thanksgiving opener rather than the early-November start employed the last two seasons – probably has something to do with that.

Almost all of Stall’s horses not entered during closing weekend of the Churchill Downs meet have been shipped from Kentucky to New Orleans.Stall, for instance, already has shipped almost all his horses not entered during closing weekend of the Churchill Downs meet from Kentucky to New Orleans. When the 2009-2010 Fair Grounds meeting began Nov. 6, Churchill still had several weeks of racing remaining, and many horses meant to winter in New Orleans still were living in Louisville.

Thursday’s opening-day card drew 96 entries for nine races, and no one would complain if that pace held up through the meet. Amoss has horses in six races, Stall is in four, and Asmussen, Fair Grounds’ perennial leading trainer, entered in three races. Also active on opening day are trainers Pat Mouton, who should have fewer horses to run here this season, and Glen Delahoussaye, who should have more.

Besides being well populated, the first of 84 scheduled racing days this winter has a nice mix of races, with two open allowance races, two open maiden-allowance races, four claimers, maiden-claimers or starter allowance races, and the featured Thanksgiving Handicap.

Owner-trainer Louie Roussel could have a major player for the Thanksgiving in Mambo Galliano, a prospect that should excite Roussel, who was born and raised in New Orleans but hasn’t won a stakes race at Fair Grounds since the 1999-2000 meet. Mambo Galliano showed an affinity for the local dirt last season, and he classes up nicely in an eight-horse Thanksgiving Handicap field. But Roussel will be casting a careful eye on Mambo Galliano on Tuesday morning. The gelding has been working bullets for his first start since an Aug. 6 win at Arlington, but Roussel said Mambo Galliano “got a little shipping fever” after travelling from Hawthorne to Fair Grounds on Sunday.

“He’s OK this morning,” Roussel said. “We’ll take him to the track tomorrow and see how he is.”

So it remains to be seen if Mambo Galliano can make the starting gate Thursday. Regardless, Fair Ground is off and running.