Faucheux, Graham, Brittlyn Stables Take Home Meet Titles as Fair Grounds Closes Out 150th Season of Racing

Top Kentucky Derby contender Epicenter puts on a season-long show

 

(New Orleans, Louisiana – Tuesday, March 29, 2022) – Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots wrapped up its sesquicentennial (150th) season of racing on Sunday, March 27, and although the destruction caused by Hurricane Ida (late August/early September) offered plenty of challenges, fans were welcomed back to the facility as the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic slowed and business was solid due to the tremendous support from both horseman and bettors alike. The meet, which kicked off with the traditional Thanksgiving Day opener on November 26, included 80 racing days and it was highlighted, as always, by the 109thrunning of the $1 million TwinSpires.com Louisiana Derby (G2).

“The damage to the barn area, parts of the facility and the loss of the infield tote board due to Hurricane Ida leading into our meet caused some challenges, but we are New Orleans, and we are resilient,” Fair Grounds senior director of racing Jason Boulet said. “We are extremely proud of everyone who came together to put out a great product on a day-in, day-out basis and as always, we are extremely grateful to the horseman for their continued support throughout the meet. The return of the fans after a difficult, prolonged stretch with the COVID-19 pandemic brought renewed energy to the racetrack, and we look forward to what should be a very special 2022-23 season.”

As the calendar turned over to 2022, Fair Grounds announced a 15% across the board purse increase and the meet reached its zenith on March 26, when the Twinspires.com Louisiana Derby (G2) highlighted a robust 12-race card that included eight stakes. Winchell Thoroughbreds’ Epicenter, who earlier in the meet won the inaugural Gun Runner Stakes and the Risen Star (G2) presented by Lamarque Ford, captured Fair Grounds’ signature event over Zozos and Pioneer of Medina, establishing a new track record for 1 3/16ths miles in the process. The Not This Time colt now storms into Louisville as one of the favorites for the 148th Run for the Roses for trainer Steve Asmussen, who hopes to add a first Kentucky Derby win to his amazing resume.

The co-featured TwinSires.com Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) marked the sophomore debut of 2021 Two-Year-Old Filly Champion Echo Zulu, and the Eclipse Award winner did not disappoint, scoring a gate-to-wire victory over a hard-charging Hidden Connection to remain undefeated from five starts for owners L and N Racing and Winchell Thoroughbreds and trainer Steve Asmussen. It was a banner Louisiana Derby Day for Asmussen and jockey Joel Rosario, who teamed up to win five races on the card.

On the Louisiana Derby Day undercard, Grandview Equine, Cheyenne Stable and LNJ Foxwoods’ Olympiad won the New Orleans Classic (G2) as the odds-on favorite under Junior Alvarado, nearly breaking the nine furlong track record in the process for trainer Bill Mott. Earlier in the meet, the son of Speightstown shaved .01 off the 1 1/16 mile track record when winning the Mineshaft (G3). In the Muniz Memorial Classic (G2) presented by Horse Racing Nation, Two Emmys took the field gate to wire for Wolfe Racing, owner/trainer Hugh Robertson and the meet’s leading rider James Graham.

Louisiana native Ron Faucheux won his second consecutive training title with 43 wins, ten more than four-time champion and Brad Cox (33), who was named the Eclipse Award winner for the second consecutive year in 2021. 11-time local titlist Tom Amoss, Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen, Chris Hartman and Bret Calhoun tied for third with 29 wins apiece, and Jose Camejo, who trains for the meet’s leading owner Brittlyn Stables, was next with 27.

Faucheux won three stakes at the meet, including a repeat score with fan favorite Monte Man in the Louisiana Champions’ Day Sprint. The meet highlights for Cox were his upset win with Turnerloose in the Rachel Alexandra (G2) presented by Fasig-Tipton and a victory by Mandaloun in the Louisiana (G3), a race in which he defeated arch rival Midnight Bourbon in the process. Amoss bagged a pair of turf stakes for 3-year-olds, winning the Black Gold with Dowagiac Chief and the Lacombe Memorial with Kneesnhips. Calhoun won four stakes with four different horses – Lovely Ride (Pago Hop), Who Took the Money (Louisiana Champions’ Day Turf), Excess Magic (Woodchopper) and Winning Romance (Shantel Lanerie Memorial). Hartman scored the 1,500th win of his career on February 4 with Ekati’s Verve, and his turf sprint mare Elle Z won three stakes at the meet – the Menard Memorial, the Aime Memorial and the Mardi Gras. Camejo took down a pair of stakes with Ova Charged (Louisiana Champions Day Ladies Sprint and the Page Cortex) and added another with Behemah Star (Star Guitar).

With 72 wins, James Graham captured his fourth Fair Grounds riding title and third in a row. His top moment came when Call Me Midnight posted a 27-1 upset over eventual Risen Star and Louisiana Derby winner Epicenter in the Lecomte (G3) for trainer Keith Desormeaux. With a late surge, Mitchell Murrill, who won his 1,000th career race on February 6 aboard Yin Yang in what was his first ever mount for trainer Brad Cox, surged late for second with 62 wins. Colby Hernandez, who led the way most of the meet, wound up third with 60 scores. Brian Hernandez, Jr., who led all local riders in percentage with 22% and Reylu Gutierrez, in his first season at Fair Grounds, rounded out the top five with 53 and 51 wins respectively.

Adam Beschizza, who finished sixth in the standings, scored his 500th career win in North America on January 29 aboard the Joe Sharp-trained Holy Emperor. Graham and Marcelino Pedroza, Jr. were the only two riders to win as many as five races on a single card. Jack Gilligan and Gabriel Saez both returned from extended injury rehabs to score victories at the meet.

The owners’ race was dominated from start to finish by Evelyn Benoit’s Brittlyn Stable, who won 22 races at an amazing 33% clip, all with horses sired by her Clear Creek Farm’s stallion and Louisiana legend Star Guitar. It was the first local title for Brittlyn Stables, who nearly tripled their eight-win total from the 2020-21 meet. Allied Racing Stable of Chester Thomas finished second with 14 wins, and last year’s champ Godolphin checked in third with ten.

Following a break for the Christmas Holiday, Fair Grounds returned with a newly anointed “Road to the Derby Kickoff Day” card on December 26. The program offered six stakes and featured a pair of brand-new added money events for the late season 2-year-olds, each offering 10-4-2-1 points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby and Oaks respectively – the Gun Runner (won by Epicenter) and the Untapable (won by North County).

On Saturday, February 12, Fair Grounds hosted the second annual “New Vocations Day at the Races”. Hosted on the simulcast show by retired jockey Rosie Napravnik, a four-time local champion, and Fair Grounds personality Joe Kristufek, the event raised over $5,000 and awareness for all aspects of racehorse aftercare. In addition to on-line donations, several jockeys, trainers and owners contributed a percentage of that day’s earnings to help support the Louisiana division of New Vocations.

Buoyed by a track record handle recorded on a spectacular 14-race “Louisiana Derby Preview Day” card on February 19, handle and betting support were strong from opening day to closing day, no doubt helped by the increased popularity of the traditional Pick Five, following the elimination of the Black Gold 5 “jackpot” wager last season.

“We would like to thank all the horsemen for their continued support which makes Fair Grounds one of the premier winter destinations,” Fair Grounds racing secretary Scott Jones said. “With daily purses expected to noticeably increase and a strong stakes schedule, we are looking extremely forward to the 2022-23 Thoroughbred racing season.”

Leading Owner Brittlyn Stables Ends Season with a Bang

 

Evelyn Benoit & trainer Jose Camejo win two stakes on closing day

(New Orleans, Louisiana – Sunday, March 27, 2022) – In a banner season that saw her top the owner’s standings with 22 wins, eight more than her closest pursuer Allied Racing Stables, Evelyn Benoit’s Brittlyn Stables won a pair of $75,000 stakes on closing day at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots. She took the Page Cortez Memorial with Ova Charged, and fittingly, the Star Guitar with a son of that stallion, Behemah Star. Both horses are trained by Jose Camejo.

All 22 of Benoit’s meet wins were by horses sired by Star Guitar, whom she stands at Clear Creek Stud in Louisiana for $7,500 per live foal. With 27 wins from 100 starts, Camejo finished seventh in the trainer’s standings.

In the Page Cortez, which is named for the longtime Louisiana senator, the .60-1 favorite Ova Charged, dominated from start to finish. In what was her turf debut and first start since her Louisiana Champions Day victory in the Ladies Sprint on December 11, the 4-year-old daughter of Star Guitar was pressed early by Offspring through early fractions of 22.47 and 46.46. She put that foe away at the top of the stretch and was not menaced thereafter, stopping the timer in 1:04.44 for 5 ½ furlongs on firm turf with the rails down, even jumping a shadow in the stretch along the way. Defeated by seven lengths, Offspring held off Snowball by a nose for second.

It was the third consecutive win and fifth in six starts for Ova Charged, with her only defeat coming behind Super Sensational in the Victory Ride (G3) last summer at Belmont. The career bankroll now stands a $219,600.

One race later, Behemah Star scored a mild upset at 9.30-1 in the Star Guitar for Brittlyn Stables and Camejo, defeating a pair of Allied Racing Stable runners in Highland Creek and .90-1 favorite Who Took the Money. Earlier in the day, Chester Thomas (Allied Racing Stable) scored a stakes win of his own with trainer Bret Calhoun, taking the $75,000 Shantel Lanerie Memorial with his homebred Winning Romance.

Clear Creek Stud Offers Scholarship for Students from Within the Louisiana Horse Industry

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 Friday, March 4, 2022. Letters can be mailed to La.H.B.P.A. attention to Eddie Fenasci 1535 Gentilly Blvd. New Orleans, La. 70119 or email to efenasci@lahbpa.org.

The recipient will be named on the final day of the Fair Grounds meet, Sunday, March 27, 2022.

First Foals Arrive by Imperial Hint

Clear Creek Stud announces arrival of two foals by the son of Imperialism.

 

An Imperial Hint colt out of the Artie Schiller mare Silent Brigade, bred by Kevin Atwood's Colonel Thoroughbreds
An Imperial Hint colt out of the Artie Schiller mare Silent Brigade, bred by Kevin Atwood’s Colonel ThoroughbredsCourtesy Clear Creek Stud

 

2022 filly; Imperial Hint - Brushfirefairytale<br> bred by Tommy Hewett’s Coulee Croche Thoroughbreds and Tracie Crochet
Photo: Courtesy Clear Creek Stud

An Imperial Hint filly out of Brushfirefairytale, bred by Tommy Hewett’s Coulee Croche Thoroughbreds and Tracie Crochet

 

The first reported foals by multiple grade 1 winner Imperial Hint   have arrived, according to Clear Creek Stud.

Kevin Atwood’s Colonel Thoroughbreds bred a bay colt, which is the third foal out of the Artie Schiller  mare Silent Brigade, whose first foal just turned 2.

Tommy Hewett’s Coulee Croche Thoroughbreds and Tracie Crochet bred a gray filly (that appears black) out of the Najran mare Brushfirefairytale , a winner of $118,632 and the dam of Jolie Gris, who scored on debut in September.

Bred in Florida by Shade Tree Thoroughbreds out of the Lahint  mare Royal Hint and campaigned by Raymond Mamone, Imperial Hint is a four-time grade 1 winner of in excess of $2.2 million. Nicknamed “The Little Rocket,” the son of Imperialism  took the Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap (G1) at Saratoga Race Course and the Vosburgh Stakes (G1) at Belmont Park in 2018 and defended his title in both races in 2019 for trainer Luis Carvajal Jr. In the 2019 edition of the Alfred G. Vanderbilt, he set a track record for six furlongs in 1:07.92. He retired from racing with a 14-2-4 record from 25 starts.

 

Imperial Hint was bred to both Thoroughbred mares and Quarter Horse mares in 2021. He stands at Clear Creek Stud near Folsom, La. as the property of a syndicate for an advertised fee of $3,000 live foal.

2019 Death of Cigar Mile Winner Lion Tamer Reported

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Lion Tamer, ridden by Jose Santos, shown winning the 2004 Cigar Mile

Lion Tamer, winner of the Grade 1 Cigar Mile at Aqueduct Racetrack in 2004, died in Jamaica at age 19 on September 3, 2019, due to a heart attack. The chestnut son of Will’s Way had been standing stud at Orange Valley Estates in Trelawny, Jamaica since 2017 after standing for nine seasons at Clear Creek Stud in Louisiana.

Trained by Todd Pletcher and owned by Michael Tabor, Lion Tamer was ridden by Jose Santos to be the upset 12-1 winner of the 2004 Cigar Mile by 1 1/4 lengths over multiple graded stakes-winner Badge of Silver in a final time of 1:33.46.

Lion Tamer earned three other graded victories in his career, taking a trio of Grade 2’s with wins in the Hutcheson at Gulfstream Park as a sophomore and the Richter Scale Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Gulfstream and Commonwealth Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland as a 4-year-old.

Lion Tamer also added two other Grade 1 placings to his resume at 5, finishing third in the Vosburgh and the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, both at Belmont Park. Lion Tamer wrapped up his career with earnings of $1,000,727 and a consistent record of 8-3-2 from 20 lifetime starts.

At the time of his retirement to stud, Lion Tamer was the only millionaire standing in Louisiana, attracting the attention of breeders and covering 34 mares in his first year at Clear Creek. From nine American crops, Lion Tamer’s top progeny include multiple stakes winner Heavy on Themister, stakes winner Win Lion Win, and Grade 3-placed stakes winner Southern Dude.

In January of 2017, Lion Tamer was transferred to Orange Valley Estates where he stood for three seasons prior to his death. His Jamaican crops include 3-year-old filly Golden Wattle, who defeated males to win Jamaica’s richest juvenile race, the Supreme Ventures Jamaica 2-Year-Old [JM $4 million], on December 27.

Lion Tamer bred 20 mares in his final year at stud, producing a handful of foals that are now 2-year-olds working towards their debuts.

Out of the stakes-placed Olympio mare Tippecanoe Creek, Lion Tamer was bred in Kentucky by Paul Smith.

Fan Favorite, Barn Favorite Monte Man Retires

Monte Man with Adam Beschizza aboard wins the 30th running of the Louisiana Champions Day Sprint at Fair Grounds. Hodges Photography / Lou Hodges, Jr.

 

New Orleans (January 4, 2022) – Over the last four years, one horse has been at the center of Louisiana racing and fans of the local sport – Ivery Sisters Racing’s Monte Man. His trainer and Fair Grounds’ 2021 title-winner, Ron Faucheux has announced that it is time for this 9-year old gelding to step away from the race track and to spend his retirement at Clear Creek Stud, where his sire Custom for Carlos stands.

“Val Murrel who owns Clear Creek, he bred Monte Man and is happy to take him in,” Faucheux said. “Clear Creek is the nicest farm in Louisiana–at this point, being a 9-year old, he’s been so great to us, we’d rather see him have a happy life from this point forward.”

Know that Monte Man is doing fine, but he did not come back from his Friday workout as hoped, giving connections pause about pursuing the plan of running in the Costa Rising Stakes, a race Monte Man won twice and finished 2nd in by a nose.

“He’s sound as can be,” Faucheux said. “Looks great, walks great, legs look good. He just has something a little feint. Something that some trainers would push through, but I’m not going to take any chances.”

Claimed for $25,000 by Ivery Sisters Racing in October of 2017, in his first start for trainer Ron Faucheux Monte Man won a local optional-claimer that December, which was the start of a seven-race winning streak. Monte Man went out in stakes-winning fashion, scoring the ninth and final stakes win of his career in the $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Sprint on December 11, 2021.

“I was looking at the win pictures last night,” Faucheux said. “He’s beaten some great horses. He hasn’t run worse than fourth since the end of his 4-year old career. Goes to show you how much heart that horse has. He might not run the best numbers as some of the Kentucky sprinters floating around the country, but he has been so consistent throughout the process. That’s all you can ask–they run to their ability.”

All told, Monte Man finishes his career 50-18-8-9 with earnings of $794,223.

“I feel honored to have trained him throughout that process,” Faucheux said. “He’s been a barn favorite, a fan favorite, a special horse–you could hear it in John Dooley’s emotional call of his last race.”

“Here comes the gladiator, Monte Man with that battler’s heart for Adam Beschizza. Monte Man now an 18-time winner–well done Monte Man!” — John G. Dooley, Fair Grounds Track Announcer

LTBA Breeders Sales Company of Louisiana 2021 Yearling Sale Results

 

The Louisiana Thoroughbred Breeders Association’s Breeders Sales Company of Louisiana held its 2021 Yearling Sale followed by Mixed Session, Saturday, October 2nd at the Equine Sales Facility in Opelousas. With 13 outs and 22 RNAs, a total of 87 head sold for $898,000.  The yearling average was $13,027. The weanling average was $3,117, and the mare average was $2,167.

 

Hip number 7,  a Custom For Carlos colt out of Labadeel, a Forest Wildcat mare, was purchased by Ricky Lagrange for $47,000 to top the sale. The bay colt was consigned by Clear Creek Stud, agent.

 

Hip number 54, also out of the Clear Creek Stud consignment, was purchased by Norman Stables for $45,000, the second highest price of the day.  A half sister to stakes placed Raising the Ante, the bay filly is by Midnight Storm out of the Majestic Warrior mare, Ante Up Annie.

 

Look for complete results Monday.

Four Time Leading Louisiana Stallion Half Ours Euthanized After Paddock Accident

Four time Louisiana Leading Stallion, Half Ours, was euthanized Saturday, July 17, 2021 following a paddock accident at Clear Creek Stud in Folsom, Louisiana.

“It is a sad day for us all… Half Ours enriched our breeders program in Louisiana and beyond, having touched many who bred and raced,”  said Val Murrell of Clear Creek Stud. “He was obviously an integral part of Clear Creek Stud’s very existence, like a family member that you saw every day.  His loss will be felt by many and his influence will remain for years to come, defined by progeny that always showed up, held together, running on both dirt or grass.”

The grey son of Unbridled’s Song led the Louisiana Sire list from 2014-2017 and is currently leading the state in 2021. Bred by Brilliant Stables, Half Ours won the Three Chimney’s Juvenile Stakes at Keeneland in his second start and added the Grade II Richter Scale Sprint Championship Handicap at Gulfstream Park as a Four Year Old. Half Ours was initially raced by Aaron and Marie Jones in partnership with B.K. Schwartz and later by the Jones’s. Half Ours is the sire of thirty-eight stakes horses of which twenty-one were stakes winners of forty-one stakes races for lifetime earnings of in excess of Twenty Million Dollars. He initially stood at stud at Taylor Made Stallions in Kentucky before moving to Clear Creek Stud for the 2011 breeding season.

Clear Creek Stud Offers Scholarship

With an eye toward the future of our industry, Clear Creek Stud will be making a $5000 Scholarship Donation in the name of their clients to a student with Louisiana based connections to the Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse Breeding and Racing Industry.

 

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 January 31, 2021. Letters can be mailed to La.H.B.P.A. attention to Eddie Fenasci 1535 Gentilly Blvd. New Orleans, La. 70119 or email to efenasci@lahbpa.org.

 

The recipient will be named by March 20, 2021 at the New Orleans Fair Grounds.