The 42nd edition of the $60,000 Edward J. Johnston Memorial Stakes, running under its current title for the first time on Saturday at Fair Grounds, attracted a large field of LA-bred 3-year-olds and up. Everything from first-time-turfers to multiple turf stake winners will compete on the lawn, but Allied Racing’s Who Took the Money stands out from the crowd.
Winning the Louisiana Champions Day Turf in just his second grass start, Bret Calhoun’s 4-year old is two for three on the lawn after beating a salty group of optional claimers last out, including Louisiana Champions Day Classic winner, Grand Luwegee. Flashing an impressive late turn of foot in the Louisiana Champions Day Turf, he rallied from 12 lengths back at the third call to win by 5 ¾ lengths over Treys Midnite Moon, Budro Talking, and Mangelsen – all of who will test him again in the Eddie Johnston. Deshawn Parker keeps the mount on the 4/5 morning line favorite and will begin his voyage from post six.
If anyone could steal it from Who Took the Money, Allen Cassedy’s front-runner Mangelsen seems like a logical choice. After speeding off in the Louisiana Champions Day Turf and tiring to finish fourth, Mangelsen’s form came into question next out when losing by 9 ½ lengths as the favorite in an optional claiming starter allowance, but trainer Ron Faucheux righted the ship with the next out effort, as the gelding led throughout to beat three of his Eddie Johnston foes. Jareth Loveberry will ride Mangelsen for the first time, sending from post seven (9-2 ML).
Multiple turf stakes winner, Hermilo Racing’s Budro Talking will make his first start in Hugo Rodriguez’s barn after being claimed out of the February optional claimer where he finished behind Mangelsen, Get Them Justin, and City Park. With a late-running style, Budro Talking will break from post eight under Mitchell Murrill looking for his 10th lifetime turf win (12-1 ML).
Snake Racing’s 7-year-old Treys Midnite Moon, a 15-time winner with a stakes victory on his resume, looks for his first win in 2022 after finishing on top five times in 2021. Third in his last three starts, including three back to Who Took the Money in the Louisiana Champions Day Turf, trainer “Bunky” Richards calls on James Graham to ride this late-kicker from post five (8-1 ML).
The remainder of the field with post position, jockey/trainer and morning line odds is as follows: Spartan Team investment’s Ballinonabudjet (post one, Colby Hernandez/Michelle Lovell, 15-1 ML) looks to make it three wins in a row while seeking the elusive first turf victory in his sixth attempt; meet-leading owner Brittlyn Stables’ Behemah Star (post two, Reylu Gutierrez/Jose Camejo, 12-1 ML) began his career sprinting and finishing 10th on the grass but has not tried since, though he exits an impressive third-level allowance dirt win at Fair Grounds in January; Autumn Hill Farms’ Get Them Justin (post three, Jose Riquelme/Sturgis Ducoing, 15-1 ML) finished second last out to Mangelsen, improving in his third turf start; Jeanne Dolan’s Changi (post four, Carlos Ulloa/Jeanne Dolan, 30-1 ML) has not won since July 2020 in 19 tries; Norman Stables’ Drewhustle (post nine, Aubrie Green/Lonnie Briley, 20-1 ML) exits a third-place allowance finish at Delta Downs but won the race prior on Fair Grounds’ dirt course; MAT Investments’ City Park (post ten, Pedro Cotto Jr./Eduardo Ramirez, 12-1 ML) is 6 for 7 on the grass, finishing third to Mangelsen and Get Them Justin last out, where he was claimed from Hugo Rodriguez; Glockenburg’s Mr. Universe (post eleven, Jose Vega/Gennadi Dorochenko, 20-1 ML) won against second-level allowance company last out, his second tally in seven turf tries.
Carded as race number eight, the last of three turf stakes races on the day, post time is scheduled for 5:36 pm CT.