Nosilverspoonshere Proves her Class in Shantel Lanerie Memorial
Corey Lanerie Notches Fifty at Fair Grounds with fated triumph in stakes named for his departed wife
After breezing through her allowance conditions, Rocket Ship Racing’s Nosilverspoonshere successfully stepped up to Louisiana-bred stakes company beating seven older fillies and mares by one length in the $75,000 Shantel Lanerie Stakes on Sunday at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots. Trained by Tom Amoss and piloted by Corey Lanerie, Nosilverspoonshere completed the 1 mile 70 yards in 1:43.33
Named in memory of jockey Corey Lanerie’s wife Shantel who died from complications from treating breast cancer, Sunday’s finale was a poignant conclusion to the 2022-2023 meet as Corey Lanerie’s fiftieth win was by far the most meaningful.
“Words can’t describe it,” Corey Lanerie said. “I know (Shantel) is looking down on us and she helped me get across the wire. At one point in the race, I didn’t know if I was going to get there. I dove inside and saw the one horse (A G’s Charlotte) moving well. I got behind her and made my move when she did, but when I got outside, my filly showed her class.”
Mishpachah shot out to the early lead, charging through the calls in :23.85 and :47.05. With the blinkers off, A G’s Charlotte stalked in mid-pack two-wide and came with a run to take the lead from Mishpachah in the homestretch. Nosilverspoonshere settled near the back, took the rail in pursuit, tipped out to target A G’s Charlotte, and rallied past to score. Mishpachah hung on for third. After taking a few bumps out of the gate and tracking in 5th, Free Like a Girl stayed on through the wire for fourth.
Brook Smith’s Rocket Ship Racing will be donating half of Nosilverspoonshere’s earnings in Sunday’s stakes to the Shantel Lanerie Foundation. Immediately following the race, Fair Grounds hosted The Breast Cancer Survivor and Memorial Second Line, benefiting the Shantel Lanerie Breast Cancer Foundation, as participants stepped in line behind a brass band to parade around the apron and raise money and awareness for a worthy cause.
Fort Polk, Winning Romance, Mo Bling, and Medley rounded out the finishing order.
Sent off as the 6-5 favorite, Nosilverspoonshere paid $4.40, $3.20, and $2.40.
She boosted her career record to 7-4-1-0 and earnings to $154,094.
Dominant Yet Again, Touchuponastar Takes Star Guitar Stakes
Star Guitar-sired exacta as Behemah Star up for second
Set-Hut’s Touchuponastar yet again proved to be too much, wiring the field in Sunday’s $75,000 Star Guitar Stakes presented by Brittlyn Stable at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots. The indisputable top older Louisiana-bred dirt male beat five others by 3 1/2 lengths, covering the 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.76.
Trained by Jeff Delhomme and ridden by Tim Thornton, Touchuponastar has now won five races in a row, three of those being stakes scores. Both the winner and the place-finisher, Behemah Star, are sired by the stakes namesake, Star Guitar.
“This horse makes my job easy,” Thornton said. “Jake and the Delhomme team have done such a good job with him. I am thankful and fortunate enough that I get to hold onto him.”
With little change in the running order throughout, Touchuponastar took the commanding lead, posting opening fractions of :24.44 and :48.29 while Highland Creek and Behemah Star chased in second and third, respectively. Behemah Star bid past Highland Creek in the second turn and gamely kept coming at Touchuponastar, but the winner’s powerful stride proved too much. Highland Creek held on for third and off-the-pace runner Blue Cheese scrambled home for fourth. Cosmic Train and Smarty Alex finished fifth and sixth, respectively.
“I think this is what anyone who owns and trains horses prays the good lord sends you,” owner Jake Delhomme said. “I’ve had a lot of average horses and every now and again you get lucky and we’ve got lucky with this. We’re going to take care of him and enjoy the ride.”
Touchuponastar was bet down to 1-2 and returned $3.00. $2.10, and $2.10. He boosted his career record to 8-6-1-1 and earnings to $298,100.
Big Chopper Slices Up Costa Rising Rail for Third Stakes Win At the Meet
First, it was the Louisiana Champions Day Sprint, next the Eddie Johnston Memorial turf route, and on Saturday, Kendel D. Standlee’s Big Chopper sprinted up the Stall-Wilson Turf Course rail to nose out a late charge from Brian’s Iron Mike in the $100,000 Costa Rising Stakes.
Trained by Scott Gelner, Big Chopper covered 5 1/2 turf furlongs in 1:05.70. The portable rail was at 28 feet and the course was listed as firm. Corey Lanerie handled the reins, one of three stakes wins for Lanerie on closing weekend.
Yankee Seven led the way, cruising through the early fractions in :23.06 and :47.84. Big Chopper positioned along the rail and never left, which proved to be the winning advantage as Brian’s Iron Mike raced wide and encountered trouble. Causing interference in mid-stretch, Bertie’s Galaxy was disqualified from third and placed in 6th place.
“This horse just keeps getting the job done,” Gelner said. “Corey gave him a great ride. I don’t know what Big Chopper does best but he’s good at everything and it’s great to have a horse like this. He’s run hard for us this meet and I’m going to give him a break. He deserves it. It’s nice to have options like this with a horse like this moving forward.”
As versatile as they come, Big Chopper has the $320,333 in lifetime earnings to prove it. His win in the Costa Rising was his sixth in 16 career starts.
Bron and Brow, Relentless Dancer, Yankee Seven, Feisty Fist, X Clown, and Vodka Gimlet completed the order of finish.
First I’ve Seen Scores First Stakes in Page Cortez
Charging home late into a pace meltdown, Tom Curtis’ First I’ve Seen upset the $75,000 Page Cortez for his first stakes score and first win on the turf. Going 5 1/2 furlongs on Sunday’s firm Stall-Wilson urf course, First I’ve Seen beat eight 3-year-old and up statebred fillies and mares by one length.
Trained by Victor Arceneaux and guided by Casey Fusilier, the 4-year-old First I’ve Seen stopped the clock in 1:06.93.
“Every time Victor comes through with a horse, I have a lot of confidence in him,” Fusilier said. “He’s an incredible trainer and we’ve had a helluva run.”
With the portable rail at 28 feet, Drop Dead Sexy cooked up the first quarter mile in :22.78 and continued on in front simmering through the half-mile marker in :48.74. The top three early on began to fade, in the end finishing up the track, as First I’ve Seen led the charge of late runners from mid-pack to lead at the stretch call. Snowball followed and appeared to have place-honors secured but was drilled by high-flying Wholelottamo who was in the back of the pack at the top of the stretch. Final Quest beat out the odds-on favorite Charlie T for fourth.
“This filly has been on the improve over her last couple of races,” Arceneaux said. “When we drew on the outside I was excited about that. I was a little nervous about all the speed on the inside but Casey (Fusilier) told me not to worry, we had it.”
World War, Beleout, Maestria, and Drop Dead Sexy completed the order of finish.
Dismissed at 10-1, First I’ve Seen rewarded her backers with payouts of $23.60, $11.20, and $5.40. The honest and versatile filly notched another in the win column, bringing her lifetime standings to 13-6-2-4 and earnings to $202,890.
New Orleans, La (Monday, March 27, 2023) – One odds-on and one at 17-1, Ron Faucheux saddled the winners of the Crescent City Derby and Oaks, both for $100,000 purses, on Louisiana Derby Day at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots.
“For me, it’s all about the Crescent City Oaks and Crescent City Derby,” Faucheux said. “So to sweep the Oaks and the Derby, wow, what a beautiful day.”
First, it was the odds-on favorite AllNight Moonlight ridden by Florent Geroux. Faucheux set owner Roger Smith to Derby dreaming when he picked out this son of Ransom the Moon at the 2021 Texas Thoroughbred Yearling Sale.
“At the sale, I told Roger we got a Derby horse,” Faucheux said. “I said we’re talking Crescent City Derby, that’s how we like to do it down here.”
Allnight Moonlight broke sharpest but it was Calibrachoa Kid who pressured and took the lead through :23.60 and :47.81 opening fractions. But when Geroux asked, Allnight Moonlight responded, taking the commanding lead and crossing the finish line in 1:45.82. Two and a half lengths back was Late September who was grinding home after settling back to last early on. Calibrachoa Kid hung on for third.
“Once the horse passed me it really wasn’t a concern,” Geroux said. “I decided to save some horse for the end but kept close and saved ground. I’ve worked the horse and I know he’s a very straightforward horse. He’s matured since winning the Half Ours. Ron has done a beautiful job–he had this horse ready for me today.”
In realizing his connections’ plans and notching his third win to go with two seconds in six starts, Allnight Moonlight’s lifetime earnings now stand at $157,000.
Backing Faucheux in the first of the day paid $3.40, $2.60, and $2.20. Rounding out the order of finish was I Don’t Venmo, Mangum, Mor Big Lee, and Benoit.
Getting 17-1 backing Faucheux’s Crescent City Oaks-winning filly Star Moment was surely a pleasant surprise for this 3-year-old’s supporters. Her first run on the lead certainly surprised her jockey Corey Lanerie, who doubled down winning the Costa Rising Stakes in Race 4.
“I absolutely did not (expect to be on the lead),” Lanerie said. “I thought there was other speed in the race. (Star Moment) ran really well on the turf, so the plan was to just get her within herself and let her run. I really thought I’d be coming from behind and picking up whatever we could. But she broke phenomenally and so I just took what came easy and when I asked her she had some more.”
Breaking sharply and striding out to the lead, Star Moment never looked back and never was menaced while she led by open lengths making the early calls in :23.74 and :47.52. Odds-on favorite Free Drop Maddy sat in second early but couldn’t endure the bid through 1 mile 70 yards to finish in the money. Extending her lead in the stretch, Star Moment won by 4 1/2 lengths over Alpine Mist and Louisiana Liberty who were picking up the pieces.
“She has been doing so good, before the race I felt like if it was on the turf, she’d win,” Faucheux said. “How she’d handle the dirt was the question. Being a quicker surface today I think she took a hold of it. When she got to the front and they weren’t really going with her I thought ‘wow, she may just walk the dog and keep on going.’ What a great ride by Corey. She ran awesome.”
Registering her first stakes win, Star Moment is now sitting on $91,530 in lifetime earnings with a 4-2-0-0 record.
Free Drop Maddy, Guitar Woman, and Olivia G rounded out the order of finish.
(Austin, TX) – Seven juveniles have been supplemented to the 2023 Texas Two-Year-Olds in Training Sale, adding to an already record setting number of horses cataloged in April’s TTA Sales two-year-old sale.
HIP 187 is a filly by Dialed In who is a half to a stakes winner and from the family of MSW Gray Attempt. Consigned by 1880 Bloodstock.
HIP 188 is a filly by freshman stallion Catholic Boy who is from the family of MGSW Tax, MGSW Yell, and MG1W Elate. Consigned by 1880 Bloodstock.
HIP 189 is a filly by Tapwrit who is a half to two winners and from the family of G2W Doremifasollatido. Consigned by 1880 Bloodstock.
HIP 190 is a colt by Lord Nelson who is out of Malibu Party (SP mare by Hard Spun). Second Dam is the G1SW mare Malibu Mint. Consigned by Oak Creek Thoroughbreds.
HIP 191 is a colt by Half Ours out of G2SP/SW Moontune Missy who is half to four winners. Consigned by Clear Creek Stud.
HIP 192 is a filly by Congrats out of a Midnight Lute mare who was the champion imported filly in Mexico and is half to a multiple winner. She’s from the family of G3W Governor Charlie and champion Silverbulletday. Consigned by A B Dynamite Racing.
HIP 193 is a filly by Nyquist out of MGSP Maria Maria and from the family G3W He’s Got Grit. Consigned by Clary Bloodstock.
The sale is April 5th at Lone Star Park’s Sales Pavilion. The breeze show is April 3rd at Lone Star Park.
New Orleans, La (March 22, 2023) – Cagliostro should count his lucky stars. The 3-year-old Upstart colt trained by Cherie DeVaux will be making his fourth start on Saturday in the $1 million Twinspires.com Louisiana Derby (G2) at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots. Stepping forward in every race, he’s earned the right to be there, but he lucked out to find three women ready to tolerate his antics, to teach him the rules of barn life, and to capture his overactive mind to show him his potential as a racehorse.
Physically the potential has always been there, as trainer Cherie DeVaux recognized when selecting him at the 2-year-old Spring 2022 Ocala Sale. Mentally, well he’s a Thoroughbred, and each comes with their own challenges. Possibly the best way to understand the project known as David Ingordo, Talla Racing, James Spry, West Point Thoroughbreds and Nice Guys Stables’ Cagliostro is to know a few things about the real-life Cagliostro.
An Italian psychic healer and alchemist living in the 1700s, Cagliostro was also a scoundrel whose writings were burned by the Catholic Church. Infamous across Europe for his antics, so much so that the real-life Cagliostro was also the basis for Goethe’s title-character Faust, who sold his soul to the devil at the crossroads and lived a sinful life.
The parallels are uncanny, as the DeVaux barn has worked hard to sort out all the biting, the breaking loose, the misbehavior and get their Cagliostro back on the righteous path. The path of Kentucky roses, perhaps. But first, he’ll need to outrace eleven others in Saturday’s Louisiana Derby.
Cherie leads the team but her younger sister Adrianne DeVaux is the assistant trainer on the grounds and Rachel Beaulieu is the barn foreman. With Cherie at Ocala early in the week ahead of Cagliostro’s run in the Louisiana Derby, Adrianne and Rachel kept to task overseeing the 16 Thoroughbreds on the grounds, preparing Cagliostro for his first stakes race, and making sure their promising 3-year-old has plenty of bananas.
“He eats bananas everyday,” Adrianne DeVaux said. “His favorite part is the peel.”
A banana-loving colt, who in the beginning could readily be described as “bananas” – some things are just funny that way. Cagliostro, the Italian alchemist. Alchemy is a perfect way to describe the task which was laid upon the DeVaux barn as they’ve been hard at work melding Cagliostro’s reckless, unbounded mind with his raw physicality to transform it all into a new substance – a racehorse.
“When he first came into the barn, he was all over the place mentally,” Adrianne said. “He wasn’t focused on the track or in the barn. He wasn’t very friendly. You couldn’t put a lip chain on him, couldn’t put a bridle on him. He didn’t want to get medication, catching him in the stall was difficult. In July at Saratoga when Rachel (Beaulieu) joined our team I said ‘here, he’s your project. Work with him.’ Rachel was his punching bag for a while. He would grab her, bite her and she would stand there and take it, and he eventually realized he had one person who was in his corner. Rachel has helped to show him life’s not so scary.”
“It was a little bit of a struggle,” Rachel said. “When I showed up at Saratoga I saw this horse who was (reduced to) walking the shedrow because he kept getting loose when he went for a walk outside. I took it upon myself to be like ‘well, you are going to need to be able to walk like a well-mannered boy’.’”
Adrianne and Rachel have a subtle yet infectious joy to them. They are thoughtful and quick to infuse humor into any difficult task. They both put off an unflappable air, and once upon a time, Cagliostro was by all means a flapper. Another barn might have met his antics with forceful antics of their own. Not these horsemen.
“Patience is the key,” Rachel said. “Being calm. If anyone acts up around him, he’ll start freaking out.”
“He does like women, and I think being a team of women has been a big part of it,” Adrianne said. “In general women have the touch. Our stature, yes, but our demeanor – it’s Cherie, Rachel, and me. You have a team of women and a horse like him is able to understand ‘okay, it’s alright.’ Slowly he’s kind of realized everyone is here to help him. He’s had the same groom, he’s had consistency, and I think that’s really helped him. He loves Cherie, he loves Rachel, and well, he tolerates me.”
“For the most part, women don’t try to outmuscle the horse,” Rachel said. “If something happens, it’s like okay what happened? We figure it out, and do something different. Women know how to tolerate and give the horse space to learn. But if he crosses the line, then we let him know he crossed the line, correct him. It’s all about understanding how insignificant things become significant.”
After finishing sixth on debut at Saratoga as a 2-year-old, Cagliostro didn’t make his next start until January’s Lecomte undercard. He won his first start as a 3-year-old, then he stepped up to a salty allowance on the Risen Star undercard and would have made it two wins in a row if it wasn’t for Denington’s late jump past him at the wire. He’ll face Denington again in the Louisiana Derby.
“Most of the time you can tell horses what you want them to do,” Adrianne said. “(Cagliostro) has to have it spelled out for him. We can’t just show him two and two, he’s got to also know that it equals four. Then he’ll be like ‘oh, I got it now.’ Once he ran at Saratoga, he came back and you could see the wheels were starting to spin, like this is fun. Then he started getting into his works, and before he ran here (at Fair Grounds) he was still very green, but once he got into the race, he was like ‘wait a minute I got this.’ His third race here was even better. I think he realized that this is fun. He was having fun out there. Denington just surprised him and dropped him at the wire. But Cagliostro came back on in the gallop out.”
“From Saratoga to now he’s progressed so much,” Rachel said. “It was a team effort. Now that he’s getting bigger, I just kind of baby him,” Rachel said. “It’s cool to see his mind work. He’s always looking at things, assessing, analyzing. Cool to see him take it all in and not want to be so crazy.”
Whether mentally, physically, or both, every racehorse is an ongoing project, but Cagliostro’s story has a certain charm to it. The success the DeVaux barn has had with Cagliostro offers an insight into what many trainers are working with in our sport, specifically those with 3-year-olds currently in the thick of Derby and Oaks dreams. When they’re dreaming of roses, sometimes they’re dealing with bananas.
The Jockey Club announced Thursday, March 23, 2023, that the 2023 edition of the Fact Book is available in the Resources section of its website at jockeyclub.com.
The online Fact Book is a statistical and informational guide to Thoroughbred breeding, racing, and auction sales in North America and is updated quarterly. It also features a directory of Canadian, international, national, and state organizations. Links to the Breeding Statistics report that is released by The Jockey Club each September and the Report of Mares Bred information that is published by The Jockey Club each October can be found in the Breeding section of the Fact Book.
This edition of the Fact Book includes updates to the Reports of Mares Bred (RMBs) and Breeding Statistics sections. RMBs are now sortable by stallion name, number of mares bred, and state. The Breeding Statistics can be sorted by year and then by stallion name, mares bred, reports received, live foals, percent of live foals, and state. Both sections now have a search function and enable you to view all statistics or a certain number of statistics.
The 2023 State Fact Books, which feature detailed breeding, racing, and auction sales information specific to numerous states, Canadian provinces, and Puerto Rico, are also available on The Jockey Club website. The State Fact Books are updated monthly.
In 2021, The Jockey Club took over the production of The American Racing Manual from the Daily Racing Form, and the latest edition will be available as part of the Fact Book in the coming weeks.
The Jockey Club, founded in 1894 and dedicated to the improvement of Thoroughbred breeding and racing, is the breed registry for North American Thoroughbreds. In fulfillment of its mission, The Jockey Club, directly or through subsidiaries, provides support and leadership on a wide range of important industry initiatives, and it serves the information and technology needs of owners, breeders, media, fans and farms. It is the sole funding source for America’s Best Racing, the broad-based fan development initiative for Thoroughbred racing. You can follow America’s Best Racing at americasbestracing.net. Additional information is available at jockeyclub.com.
With an eye toward the future of our industry, Clear Creek Stud will once again be making a $5000 Scholarship Donation in the name of their clients to a college student with Louisiana based connections to the Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse Breeding and Racing Industry.
Clear Creek Stud recognizes that for many of the people who perform the hard work of this industry day in and day out, the rewards are often not financial. “We want to help the children who come from these families who put in the long hours and hard work that are essential to keep our industry in operation,” says Val Murrell, general manager of Clear Creek Stud.
The scholarship recipient will be chosen by the Louisiana Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (LaHBPA) and based on their opinion and evaluation of need and merit.
Interested students should send a letter and resume to Eddie Fenasci at the La.H.B.P.A. office by end of business day, Friday, May 12, 2023. Letters can be mailed to La.H.B.P.A. attention to Eddie Fenasci 1535 Gentilly Blvd. New Orleans, La. 70119 or email to email@example.com.
The recipient will be named on Saturday, June 3, 2023 at the LTBA Awards Banquet at Evangeline Downs.
THE 61-DAY SEASON RUNS FROM APRIL 7 THROUGH AUGUST 12
OPELOUSAS, LA –The Louisiana Racing Commission recently approved an amended dates schedule for the 2023 Thoroughbred season at Evangeline Downs. The meet will now consist of 61 days of racing, with opening night Friday, April 7.
The racing schedule will feature racing on Wednesday through Saturday for the first five full weeks of the meet. Beginning the week of May 18, racing will switch to a Thursday through Saturday schedule, with closing weekend now set for August 12. First post each night will be at the new time of 5:30pm Central time.
Director of Racing Chris Warren stated, “I feel the amended race schedule will enhance the overall purse structure and make for a stronger, more appealing race meet for both horsemen and fans alike.”
The 2023 stakes action begins on opening night with the $60,000 Acadiana for 3-year-old fillies at six furlongs and the $60,000 Spotted Horse for 4-year-old and up fillies and mares at one mile. The first Saturday of the meet will feature the $100,000 Evangeline Mile for 4-year-olds and up, along with the $60,000 Lafayette for 3-year-olds sprinting six furlongs. The Evangeline Downs track maintenance crew has been working diligently for the past few weeks to get the track prepared for the opening night, including having races scheduled for the turf course.
Racing fans should also mark their calendars for April 22 as the “Exotic Animal Racing” makes a return. The Saturday card will include races featuring camels and zebras that are sure to entertain and delight the crowd.
Evangeline Downs Racetrack Casino and Hotel, a property of Boyd Gaming Corporation (NYSE:BYD), features exciting casino action, live horse racing, the Fan Duel sportsbook and fun dining experiences. Evangeline Downs is located in Opelousas, Louisiana, off I-49 on Cresswell Lane at Exit 18.
New Orleans, La (March 17, 2023) – After running the first race, the decision was made to
cancel the rest of Friday’s card at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots due to inclement weather.
Live racing will resume on Saturday, March 18 with 9 races scheduled to begin at the regular
post time of 1:15 p.m. CT.
Also on Saturday at 11:45 a.m. CT, the field for the 110th running of the $1 million
Twinspires.com Louisiana Derby (G2) with starting gate assignments and morning line odds will
be revealed during the Louisiana Derby Draw Show.
The Louisiana Derby Draw Show will be broadcast on Fair Grounds simulcast & on Twitter:
@fairgroundsnola. Joe Kristufek and John G. Dooley will host and be joined by morning line
odds maker Mike Diliberto & racing analyst Kevin Kilroy. Following the post-position draw, the
connections on hand and members of the Fair Grounds management team will be available for
New Orleans, La (March 16, 2023) – With less than two weeks to go in the 2022-23 meet at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, there is a new leading trainer as Ron Faucheux has caught fire in the month of March. The Faucheux barn won their 33rd race of the meet in the finale on Sunday, March 12, capping off an eight-win week and claiming the lead for most wins for the first time this meet.
After winning with Janisthebeauty in the lid lifter on Wednesday, March 15, Faucheux leads all with 34 (24%), Bret Calhoun is one win back at 33 (25%), and Brad Cox has 32 (40%). (All stats are through the end of the day 3/15/23). Either of these three high-percentage barns could seal the deal in the closing days.
Faucheux has gone 15 for 32 since Ash Wednesday (Feb. 22) with a $4.08 ROI, a hot streak that could be the storybook cornerstone to three trainer titles in a row.
“Once I got the one title, just to compete and be in the conversation is enough for me,” Faucheux said. “Sure I’d love to win another, but if it doesn’t happen, I’m not going to be upset about it. If it didn’t happen the first year, I was going to be upset, I can promise you that. Even last year I just took it as it came. If it happens it happens, but I’m not stressed about it.”
One of the biggest successes for the Faucheux barn this meet has been the 3-year-old Allnight Moonlight. His win in the $75,000 Half Ours Stakes was a shift in the meet for a barn that didn’t have things go their way to start the year. Whether drawing poorly or having horses with minor setbacks, at first it seemed a three-peat was unlikely. On Feb. 25 Allnight Moonlight scored what would be the barn’s fifth tally from six starts in a week that began with Faucheux in third with19 wins. He trailed Calhoun’s 29 and Cox’s 27.
“I wouldn’t say that I am shooting for the title,” Faucheux said. “I’m going to place them where they belong and see how it pans out. If it looks like I’m close the last couple of weeks maybe we’ll try to shoot for it a little stronger. Trust me, I’m content having two titles. If I don’t get another, I’m fine. That’s two more than I ever thought I’d get.”
Besides Allnight Moonlight, Faucheux has a strong cast of sophomores and four of them were integral to the recent success: Not On Herb, Comanche Warrior, De Saix and Veterans Day each rung one up for the barn in March. Besides 3-year-olds getting it done, five of the eight wins last week came from class-droppers, often a sign the barn is getting aggressive to win the title.
“Honestly I always kinda do that,” Faucheux said. “With the way the purses are here at Fair Grounds, I always try to unleash a lot of horses. I open the stalls up for the babies we’ve got coming in, and you’d rather run for the decent money here than for half price over there (at other tracks in Louisiana).”
Prior to March, the story had belonged to Bret Calhoun and Brad Cox. Calhoun has landed in the top ten of the Fair Grounds standings 16 consecutive years and he finished as the runner-up three times (most recently in 2014-15), but he has never won the title.
“It would be nice to win, but it’s not our main objective,” Calhoun said. “The main thing is to try to win as many races and the most money as you can. To win a title you really have to do a lot of different things. You’ve got to have horses that fit in certain categories that you know those races will go all the time, condition horses, and cheaper horses. And you need to claim to run back, but we’re not going to do all that. It’s not that important to me, but I understand people doing it, but that’s not really what we’re trying to do.”
Calhoun’s first win at Fair Grounds came in 1996, and 576 of his 3,507 career victories have come in New Orleans.
“There’s no financial incentive, that’s why I try to run our horses in places where they can make the most money for the owners and us,” Calhoun said. “Making money for the owners, they’re likely to stay with you and keep sending you some more, so claiming and dropping and losing them money might look good in the win column but at the end of the day it doesn’t work out as well.”
Already with four training titles at Fair Grounds, the main focus of the meet for Cox is kicking off the campaigns for the Derby and Oaks contenders, and the barn has been second to none in terms of that. Ten open-company stakes races written for the crop of 2020 have been run so far this meet at Fair Grounds, and the Cox barn has won seven of them, most recently with Wonderful Justice in the Black Gold. Before that they scored with Angel of Empire in the Risen Star (G2), Instant Coffee in the Lecomte (G3), The Alys Look in the Silverbulletday, Jace’s Road in the Gun Runner, Corona Bolt in the Sugar Bowl, and Dazzling Blue in the Letellier.
“It’s been a great team effort throughout the meet with good riders, good grooms, and good hot walkers,” barn foreman Trace Messina said. “Everyone shows up every day and does what they have to do. It’d be great to win (the title) but right now the goal is to win the Louisiana Derby, the New Orleans Classic, the Fair Grounds Oaks. The trainer’s title is in the back of our heads, we do think about it, but we’re not going out of our way to win it. Ron (Faucheux) is catching fire so it could be hard. Still, we’ll give it our best shot.”
Messina is in his second year working with the Cox barn, but the New Orleans native knows the significance and history of winning the Fair Grounds title.
“I grew up coming to Fair Grounds as a kid,” Messina said. “Tom Amoss was running a clinic down here when I was growing up. Asmussen, too, every year. Growing up I remember Keith Bourgeois had a lot of business and did really well as far as Louisiana guys before Ron (Faucehux) took over the scene. There have been many great trainers who have come through here over the years. It’s not an easy trainer’s title to win.”
There are still a lot more races to sort out whether the 2022-23 title becomes Faucheux’s third in a row, Cox’s fifth, or Calhoun’s first. Already having drawn the races through Thursday, March 23, the Faucheux barn has 17 horses entered at Fair Grounds, the Cox barn has 10 entered (including potential sophomore stars Bishops Bay and Merlazza), and Calhoun leads all three with 18 entered to run.
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