Fair Grounds Return to Stall-Wilson Turf Course Set for Dec. 26

Hidden Connection, Zozos Racing at Fair Grounds this Week


New Orleans, La (December 15, 2022) – Turf racing will return to Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots for the “Road to the Derby Kickoff Day ” card, to be held on Monday, Dec. 26. With the portable rail set at 34 feet, fields will be limited to eight runners for the $100,000 Blushing KD and the $100,000 Buddy Diliberto Memorial. With the same parameters, turf racing will again be conducted on Dec. 31 with the runnings of the $100,000 Pago Hop and the $100,000 Woodchopper.

“Going forward from there, we will monitor the condition of the course and run a limited number of turf races as the course allows,” said executive director of racing Gary Palmisano, Jr. “If all goes well, as is expected, the racing office will look to add turf races to the new condition book, which starts Jan. 5.”

Hidden Connection, Zozos Racing at Fair Grounds this Week

Hoping to build on their resumes as 4-year-olds, the runner-ups from this past season’s Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) and Louisiana Derby (G2) both return to action in the coming days at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots.

Away from the races since finishing tenth in the 2022 Kentucky Derby, Barry and Joni Butzow’s Zozos returns to action in Saturday’s eight race. The Brad Cox trainee will be tasked with going 1 1/16 miles in a second-level allowance against an oversubscribed field of 13.

“He’s been doing great training up to this,” assistant trainer Ricky Giannini said. “The field came up salty. Going one mile and 1/16 for his first start after seven or so months off will be a test.”

Posting six morning workouts coming into this, Zozos was fastest of 23 others going 5 furlongs in 1:00.20 on Nov 23 at Churchill Downs. He breezed 4 furlongs around the local track on Dec 10.

The 3-year-old earned 40 points, more than enough to qualify for the “Run for the Roses”, by finishing second to eventual Kentucky Derby runner-up Epicenter, who is a serious candidate for 3-year-old champion honors, in the Louisiana Derby (G2). Setting the pace that day, the son of Munnings has shown forward speed.  After riding the Cox-barn 2-year-old Tapit Shoes to victory earlier this meet, Corey Lanerie gets the call to ride Zozos from post No. 2.

The oversubscribed field of 13 is scheduled to enter the gates at 4:45 p.m. CT. First post for the 9-race card is 1:15 p.m. CT.

Oaks-star Hidden Connection Races Friday

After finishing a disappointing third going 6 1/2 furlongs at Churchill Downs this Nov in her first race since finishing 12th in the 2022 Kentucky Oaks, Hidden Brook Farm and Black Type Thoroughbred’s Hidden Connection will stretch back out to 1 1/16 miles on Friday at Fair Grounds. The star filly from Bret Calhoun’s barn almost nailed Echo Zulu at this distance in last year’s Fair Grounds Oaks (G2).

“There’s a speedster drawn to her outside,” her regular jockey Rey Gutierrez said. “We just need to be in a good position going into the first turn. Bret (Calhoun) has done great work getting her ready for this.”

Hidden Connection’s claim to fame is a resounding win as a 2-year-old in the Pocohontas (G2) at Churchill Downs. The daughter of Connect is winless from five starts since.

Scheduled as Race 7, post time for the second-level allowance is 4:15 p.m. CT. First post on the 8-race card is 1:15 p.m. CT.


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