Owner Keith Plaisance, trainer Brad Cox and jockey Florent Geroux have secured championship titles at the 2016-17 Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots meet.
Fourteen victories propelled Keith Plaisance to his first meet title at the Fair Grounds, just nosing out defending champion Midwest Thoroughbreds by one victory. His pink and white silks struck at 26%, with 52% finishing in the top three and earning $330,590. Plaisance’s performance was well clear of his nine-win total last season and one better than his 13 victories two seasons ago. His top horses included Pacific Pink, Taleoftheprincess, Sunny Oak, Calamity Jane and My Pal Torres, while his horses were trained by Eddie Johnston and Michelle Lovell.
After finishing fourth last season with 28 wins, the Brad Cox barn went on a tear during the 2016-17 meet, winning 43 races and finishing eight clear of Joe Sharp, whose $1,525,360 was tops among conditioners. Winning his first Fair Grounds title, the Louisville native struck at a smart 28% and was 62% in the money, while his horses earned $1,284,270. Assisted locally by Ricky Giannini, the burgeoning barn won at nearly every level, highlighted three-time meet stakes winner Believe in Bertie, who broke two track records over the Stall-Wilson turf course.
Geroux won his second consecutive meet title at the New Orleans oval with 98 victories and $2,856,618 in earnings. He struck at a superbly impressive 29%, while hitting the board 63% of the time. The native of the Normandy region of France manhandled his opponents, finishing well clear of Robby Albarado in second with 61 wins, with Mitchell Murrill (60) and 2014-15 meet champ James Graham (57) rounding out the top four. His win total dwarfs his 87 from last season, when he struck at 25% with mounts gathering $3.3 million. Geroux shifts his tack to Kentucky, where he resides with wife Kasey and his two daughters.
David Ross’ DARRS Inc.’s Honorable Duty was named Horse of the Meet for the 145th Thoroughbred season. The 5-year-old son of Distorted Humor posted a perfect 3-for-3 record this winter, with all three scores coming in stakes company. Trainer Brendan Walsh gelded Honorable Duty prior to his tally in the Tenacious Stakes in December, and he followed that effort up with wins in the Grade III Mineshaft Handicap and the Grade II New Orleans Handicap. Horse of the Meet is determined by a vote conducted of Fair Grounds officials and select members of the media. Farrell, Girvin and Believe in Bertie also received votes.