Louisiana Derby Spotlight on Cagliostro: Bananas, Alchemy, and the Three Women of the DeVaux Barn

Cagliostro with Rachel Beaulieu(left) Adrianne DeVaux (right)

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.

Live Racing at Fair Grounds is Canceled for Friday, March 17

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

Faucheux Catches Fire in March as Race for Fair Grounds Trainer’s Title Heats Up

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 with  19 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. 

Big Chopper Scores Win in the Edward J. Johnston Memorial; Fort Polk Grinds Out Red Camelia

Big Chopper (right) gets a nose in front to win the Edward J. Johnston Memorial Stakes at Fair Grounds. Hodges Photography / Lou Hodges, Jr.

Fans were treated to a thrilling 2023 edition of the $75,000 Edward J. Johnston Memorial as Big Chopper held off a fast-charging Who Took the Money for a nose victory. The versatile colt won the Louisiana Champions Day Sprint on dirt earlier in the meet.

Trained by Scott Gelner and ridden by Corey Lanerie, Big Chopper completed about one mile 1:42.18 over the “firm” Stall Wilson Turf Course with the rail remaining 34 feet out.

“There are not many like that that can change their style and run well at any distance,” Lanerie said. “Going into the race I really thought I would be the pace. But he broke within himself today and he relaxed. If he would have gotten any bit rank on the backside, someone would have run him down.”

The stretch battle began around the far turn when Big Chopper split front-running foes Maga Man and Mangelsen, who tallied early quarter-mile fractions of :25.78 and :52.05. Lanerie began to ask Big Chopper for his best run as Budro Talking came flying into the mix and Who took the Money gathered his run down the center of the course. Big Chopper gamely fought to stay in front of Budro Talking and as the wire neared, Who Took the Money surged forward in the photo’s flash, which showed only a nose difference between Big Chopper in first and the 1-2 favorite Who Took the Money in second. It was another nose back to Budro Talking in third.

“He got overlooked again today,” Gleaner said. “Every time I’ve run him here, people always say turf, and I’ve never had a chance to run him many times on the turf.  Today he showed up and got it done. He can sprint or go long, dirt, or turf. He represents himself well. I didn’t know Eddie (Johnston) that well, but I knew him, and I was glad just to be in this race and honored to win it in his name.”

At 15-1 Big Chopper rewarded his backers with payouts of$33.60, $8.00, and $5.00.

After a mid-pack stalking trip, Smarty Alex finished fourth followed in order by Wicker Rose, Maga Man, Mangelsen, and Highland Creek.

Big Chopper improved his overall mark to 17-5-4-1 with earnings of $260,333. The 4-year-old son of Shackleford out of the Unusual Heat mare Miss Well Molded was bred in Louisiana by Kendel Standlee.


Fort Polk with jockey Emanuel Nieves holds off challengers to win the 47th running of the Red Camelia Stakes at Fair Grounds. Hodges Photography / Lou Hodges, Jr.

Patricia and Steve Roe’s Fort Polk overcame the field of eight fillies and mares in the stretch to win the 47th running of the $75,000 Red Camelia Stakes. Finishing less than a length shy of winning last year’s edition, this is the first turf stakes victory for Fort Polk, whose only other stake victory came in the Louisiana Champions Day Distaff on the dirt in 2021. The 7-year-old Louisiana-bred beat seven older fillies and mares by 1/2 length.

Piloted by Emanuel Nieves and trained by Pat Mouton, Fort Polk completed about one mile in 1:42.31 over the “firm” Stall Wilson Turf Course with the rail remaining 34 feet out.

“Everything worked out how we wanted it,” Nieves said. “I got in a good position, avoided traffic, and when I asked her, she was ready to go.”

Flashing speed from her outside draw, Cheapskate Diva fought for the lead in the early going and held it while setting opening fractions of :24.79 and :49.92. While three others chased the front-runner, Fort Polk found midpack position going three-wide, A G’s Charlotte saved ground on the rail behind her, and Wholelottamo kept her eyes on the field from the back. Fort Polk dug in eyeball-to-eyeball with Cheapskate Diva, bid past, and then had to fend off 9-5 favorite A G’s Charlotte’s bid from the rail. Wholelottamo came flying from the back but too late as Fort Polk got the best of the late-runners. A G’s Charlotte finished second, Wholelottamo in third, and Cheapskate Diva held on for fourth.

“It’s easier to win tough races like these when you’ve got the horse,” Mouton said. “She’s easy to train, responds well to it, and gives you her best all the time.”

Blessed Anna, Free Like a Girl, and Eve’s Delight completed the order of finish. Winning Romance was scratched after flipping in the paddock prior to the race.

Fort Polk was sent off at 9-2 and returned $11.60, $5.80, and $3.60. She boosted her career record to 41-10-7-11 and earnings to $384,460.

“New Vocations Day at the Races” at Fair Grounds Postponed; Rescheduled for Thursday, March 23

New Orleans (March 4, 2023) – Due to severe storms, high winds, power outages and flight cancelations in Kentucky, Sautrday’s scheduled “New Vocations Day at the Races” event at Fair Grounds has been postponed and rescheduled for Thursday, March 23. Despite their efforts, Mother Nature thwarted travel plans to New Orleans from Kentucky on Friday and early Saturday morning for both retired jockey and racehorse advocate Rosie Napravnik and New Vocations’ executive director Anna Ford, and the decision was made to postpone the event.

              “We are disappointed that we had to postpone the event, but happy that we could reschedule it,” said Fair Grounds’ senior director of racing Jason Boulet. “Despite the severe weather in Kentucky, Rosie and Anna made every effort to follow through with their travel plans to New Orleans, but Mother Nature had other ideas. We are looking forward to New Vocations Day at the Races on March 23. It will be a welcome addition to Louisiana Derby week.”

Rosie Napravnik to Spearhead “New Vocations Day at the Races” on Saturday, March 4 at Fair Grounds

Four-time local riding champion on hand to raise awareness for Thoroughbred Aftercare

New Orleans (February 4, 2022) – On Saturday, March 4, retired jockey and horse advocate Rosie Napravnik will be on site at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots to spearhead the third annual “New Vocations Day at the Races.”

A four-time local riding champion who was instrumental in the opening of the New Vocations facility in Covington, Louisiana, Napravnik will join host Joe Kristufek on the live feed during the racing day to help build awareness, promote success stories and inspire donations for Thoroughbred aftercare.

“I am elated to be having our third annual New Vocations Day at Fair Grounds,” Napravnik said. “Since its inception, our Louisiana satellite facility has been a great success and it’s my honor to dedicate a day to promoting local aftercare by showing off the horses and the work that these ladies have done right here in Covington. This year I am excited to have New Vocations executive director Anna Ford also joining Joe and me on set to talk about the program!”

Held for the first time at Fair Grounds in 2021, the “New Vocations Day at the Races” has raised over $10,000 in unique donations from fans and people within the industry, including horsemen, horse owners and jockeys.

“Before and after my riding career, I’ve been exposed to a lot of the other things that horses can do, and that’s a big part of the reason why I’m so passionate about it and why it’s so important to me,” Napravnik said in regards to Thoroughbred aftercare. “I have a lot of experience in the other disciplines and I’ve seen retired racehorses really excel. I got my first off-the-track Thoroughbred back in 2008 and watching him transform, his potential, his trainability, his eagerness to do something else and to learn new things and please really inspired me. After riding so many of those horses and seeing how much they put out for us on the racetrack, it’s just something I can’t avoid making a part of my life.”

For the first time this year, owners, jockeys and trainers can contribute a financial donation to the Louisiana chapter of New Vocations directly through the horsemen’s bookkeeper. Contact Emily Miller or Diana Bosco at 504-948-1254. In addition, contributions are welcome through the New Vocations website — visit https://horseadoption.org/donate and click the button with Rosie’s picture on it in the top row to complete the process.

              “We are very excited about the success we’ve had with the success we’ve had putting on this show,” Napravnik said. “So many influential people within the industry have jumped into action, making donations and encouraging others on social media to do so as well. We are very grateful for the HBPA and the horseman in Louisiana for supporting our efforts. Our program continues to expand, and we are excited to share our growth from the past year.”

              Napravnik, who won 1,878 races in her ten-year career, retired in 2014 following her Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) win with Untapable. In 2012 she became the first female rider to capture the Kentucky Oaks (G1), guiding Believe You Can to victory, and she won the race again just two years later with Untapable. She is married to trainer Joe Sharp and together they have two sons, Carson and Tucker.

“Rosie is one of our favorites,” said Fair Grounds senior director of racing Jason Boulet. “It’s great to have her back at the Fair Grounds to help shed light on such an important cause and to share her valuable insight with the fans. We look forward to continue to build on the success of this event year after year.”

Recognizing the need for expanded Thoroughbred aftercare in Louisiana, Napravnik reached out to New Vocations, the largest racehorse adoption program in the country, in the fall of 2019. With Napravnik taking on a leadership role under the umbrella of New Vocations, they received a start-up grant from the Right Horse, which allowed the program to open a facility in Louisiana.

“The Right Horse grant funded almost half of running the program for the first two years,” said New Vocations Thoroughbred program director Anna Ford. “That really helped us get on our feet. Then the Louisiana HBPA stepped in and have helped the program grow and ultimately serve more horses.”

Since opening their doors in 2019, the Louisiana division of New Vocations has served 174 horses. There are currently 22 horses in the program.

“Moving into our fourth year, our Louisiana facility continues to thrive and our team has done a wonderful job with each horse that has entered the program,” Ford said. “The continued support from Louisianan HBPA has played a huge role in the facility’s success.  We are also seeing more and more local owners, breeders and trainers reach out to utilize our services as well as support our efforts. We are grateful to have the Fair Grounds hosting another New Vocations Day at the Races.  We hope the event will continue to raise awareness about our Louisiana facility and the services we provide to the racing community.”

Race 7 on Saturday’s card will be dedicated to New Vocations and racehorse aftercare. Representatives from Fair Grounds at the Louisiana HBPA will be on hand to present a $117,000 check, $27,000 of which comes directly from the track. This represents the amount accrued the past 12 months as part of the “starters match” program.

“New Vocations is an organization the Fair Grounds is proud to support each year,” said Fair Grounds president Doug Shipley. “Their dedication to rehabilitating, retraining and rehoming horses deserves the upmost respect. We encourage everyone interested to support this amazing cause.”

On Saturday, Napravnik will join track announcer John G. Dooley on the pre-race “Fair Grounds Today” show and partner with simulcast host Joe Kristufek during the racing card to provide information on how to donate a horse, how to adopt a horse, and how fans can contribute to the cause. She will also share adoption success stories, which will be supported by video of retired racehorses thriving in their second careers.

“I want to help make sure that horses have the opportunity to do something after racing because they really deserve it,” Napravnik said. “They have so much life ahead of them when their racing career is over. I can’t ignore that, especially in a place like Louisiana that has such a high demand for organizations to help bridge that gap.”

In addition to promoting Thoroughbred aftercare awareness, Napravnik will also offer her race-by-race selections via the “expert picks” videos on twinspires.com and the Twin Spires app, and on the simulcast feed.

“During my riding career, I never handicapped to pick the winner, I handicapped to make my horse the winner,” Napravnik said. “But there’s a lot of insight I can give on how each of the riders could see the race unfolding and how it might play out from a pace and trip perspective. I truly enjoy being on the show and handicapping the races with Joe so it will be another fun and exciting day as we raise awareness and funds for aftercare in Louisiana!”

Allnight Moonlight wires the Half Ours and Free Drop Maddy Speeds Away in the Buttercup’s Song

New Orleans, La (Saturday, Feb. 25, 2023) – After breaking his maiden in January, Roger Smith’s Allnight Moonlight immediately stepped up to stakes company and stepped out in front to wire the inaugural $75,000 Louisiana Stallion of the Year Half Ours Stakes at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots. Going one mile 70 yards, Allnight Moonlight beat seven other statebred 3-year-olds by four lengths. 

Allnight Moonlight. Hodges photography.

Piloted by Jareth Loveberry and trained by Ron Faucheux, Allnight Moonlight completed one mile and 70 yards in 1:43.94. He is now two-for-two since adding blinkers. The win in the Half Ours was Faucheux’s second on the day and sixth on the week. Sitting at 25 total wins to Bret Calhoun’s 30 and Brad Cox’s 28,  Faucheux  is now in position to compete for his third straight trainer’s title.

“Ron (Faucheux) has really done a great job with this horse,” Loveberry said. “Stretching him out and putting the blinkers on, he got him going in the right direction. I made sure he got a good break and was able to take command after that. He’s a really nice horse and I want to thank the whole team.”

Breaking from the rail, Allnight Moonlight shot out to take control and set scintillating fractions of :23.50 and :46.29. After bobbling at the start, the 2-5 favorite Jack Hammer rushed to keep up and took a run at Allnight Moonlight in the second turn but came up empty. As Allnight Moonlight put more distance between himself and the field at every call, Benoit and Mangum ran well for second and third-place honors respectively. Never mustering a re-rally after being turned away, Jack Hammer held on for fourth.

“We’ve always been high on this horse,” Faucheux said. “The addition of blinkers helped him prove his talent in these last two races. I think the sky’s the limit with him. I love this horse, always have, even when he was running second or worse. We always thought he would be a true router, and he might even be best on the grass in the long run. He has the feet for it and the pedigree. I’m so happy for (owner) Roger Smith who is here with his grandson today. He’s been with me through and through, we’ve had a lot of fun. It’s a special (win).”

Stiff Drink, Gobot, Real Action, and My Lil Dude completed the order of finish. 

Allnight Moonlight was sent off at 5-1 and returned $13.00, $7.40, and $3.80. He boosted his career record to 5-2-2-0 and earnings to $97,000.


Mansfield Racing’s Free Drop Maddy wired the field to win the inaugural $75,000 Louisiana Broodmare of the Year Buttercup’s Song Stakes, recording her third stakes victory during the 2022-2023 meet at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots. The sophomore beat seven 3-year-old statebred fillies by 2 1/4 lengths. 

Piloted by Rey Gutierrez and trained by Bret Calhoun, Free Drop Maddy completed one mile in 1:39.47 for her first win going two turns. Her previous three efforts came at Delta Downs.

“Delta is a much different surface and (Free Drop Maddy) runs better here (at Fair Grounds),” Gutierrez said. “Bret (Calhoun) made some adjustments coming into this race, and she was extremely comfortable out there, very relaxed on the lead. Today was her first victory stretching out, and the credit goes to Bret and his team.”

Free Drop Maddy. Hodges photography.

Free Drop Maddy broke sharply and immediately took command, rolling through the early fractions in :24.57 and :48.22. New Destiny chased the leader early on before settling along the rail and biding her time for a late bid. Olivia G settled near the back early before making a bold, wide move to threaten in the stretch. Both of those two fillies ranged up behind Free Drop Maddy at the top of the stretch but neither could threaten as the winning filly kicked away. Olivia G beat New Destiny to the wire. Racing midpack throughout, Guitar Woman rounded out the superfecta.

“(Free Drop Maddy) is a small fast filly,” Calhoun said. “She’s like dynamite: little but powerful. Scheduling and hoping Delta’s track had tightened up had us back over there (in her last race), and I regret it. She doesn’t like that track at all.”

She Told You So, For Harper, Hopeitsmyluckyday, and Agami completed the order of finish. 

Free Drop Maddy was sent off the 9-5 co-favorite and returned $5.00. $3.60, and $3.00. In joining the ranks of Surveillance and Oeuvre with her third stakes score of the meet, she boosted her career record to 8-4-1-2 and earnings to $272,800.

Brad Cox Scores 2,000th Career Win on Saturday at Fair Grounds

Scores four wins on Louisiana Derby Preview Day,
including a 13-1 Risen Star Upset with Angel of Empire

New Orleans (Saturday, Feb. 18, 2023) – Trainer Brad Cox sent out his 2,000th career North American winner Saturday at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, saddling Spendthrift Farm, Steve Landers Racing, Martin Schwartz, Michael Dubb, Ten Strike Racing, Jim Bakke, Titletown Racing, Kueber Racing, Big Easy Racing, Winners Win, Michael Caruso, and WinStar Farm’s Bishops Bay (1-2 favorite) to a three-quarters of a length victory over stablemate First Mission in Race 5.

“I want to thank the team, the owners, and the horses,” Cox said. “It’s been a great run and it’s been a long road. I’m glad to have two colts who showed up here and ran well, I’m proud of both. I think they have bright futures.”

The 42-year-old native of Louisville, Ky. closed to within three victories of the milestone entering Saturday. Beginning with Comparative in Race 2, then Merlazza in Race 4, the Cox barn quickly won with their first two entries on the card. Having two entries in Race 5,  there was no doubt in the homestretch that Cox was about to hit 2,000–the only question was which horse would be the one to do it for him as his other entry First Mission headed Bishops Bay with one-sixteenth to go. With Florent Geroux aboard, the Uncle Mo Colt Bishops Bay battled back against his workmate, beating him to the wire.

Steve Asmussen had two entries in Race 5 as well, and sitting at 9,999 career wins, he and Cox were in the paddock at Fair Grounds with the potential to saddle their milestone winner. After posting a win at both Sam Houston and Oaklawn earlier in the day, Asmussen was unable to score another.

“It’s an amazing number that Steve is about to hit,” Cox said. “I have no shot of catching him. He works as hard as anybody. To do what we do every day, trying to develop horses, it’s a tough game. To do it for as long as he has, as well as he has, it’s amazing.”

Cox started working in racing under trainers Burk Kessinger, and Jimmy Baker. Later he became the assistant trainer under Dallas Stewart.  Brad started his first horse in 2004, and has since gone on to win each leg of the Triple Crown and the Longines Kentucky Oaks twice. He has racked up nine Breeders Cup victories, including the Classic with Knicks Go (2021) and the Distaff twice with Monomoy Girl (2018 and 2020).

“I knew we were getting close a couple of races back, and I’m glad to give it over with,” Cox. “Honestly, I just wanted to get it over with. We’ve got some live shots later in the day so we’re hopeful to keep it rolling.”

Later in the card, Cox would score a 13-1 upset in the Risen Star (G2) presented by Lamarque Ford-Lincoln, giving him four wins on the day.

Already with four training titles at Fair Grounds, Cox sits in second in the 2022-23 standings with 27 wins, two behind Bret Calhoun.

Fair Grounds Meet Leaders Halfway Through

  • Risen Star Possibles Curly Jack and Two Phil’s lead this week’s notable workouts

New Orleans, La (Feb. 2, 2023) – The 80-day meet at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots hit the halfway mark last Thursday, Jan. 26. Here is an overview of the storylines so far. (Note: all stats cover racing through Sunday, Jan. 29).

Two trainers are having an especially remarkable meet, as Bret Calhoun leads all with 26 wins in 87 starts (30%) and Brad Cox is currently in second with 21 first-place finishes, accounting for 42% of his starters.

Cox’s success in the Derby and Oaks prep races accounts for five of those wins, taking the Lecomte (G3), Silverbulletday, Gun Runner, Sugar Bowl, and Letellier.

Three jockeys have risen to the top with Rey Gutierrez leading all with 37 wins. Jareth Loveberry is in 2nd with 34 wins. Both Gutierrez and Loveberry joined the colony last year, finished in the top ten, and are now vying for their first riding title at Fair Grounds. 4-time title winner James Graham sits in third with 33 wins; he’s fighting to make it three years in a row on top.

Godolphin leads the owners with 9 wins in 19 starts (47%). 15 of their runners have finished in the top three (79%). Lothenbach Stables is in second with 8 wins.

Though they don’t have the barns to compete for the titles, here are two of the trainers who deserve recognition for their success in the first half of the meet. Patricia West has racked up 7 wins in 24 races, including her first stakes victory coming on opening day when A G’s Charlotte won the inaugural Big World Stakes. Justin Jeansonne, too, has sent out live runners left and right, winning with eight of them from 34 runners.

The race is on for the apprentice title, and with 13 total Brianne Culp has the 5-win advantage over Sofia Barandela and Treylon Albert.

Returning to the colony this year, Florent Geroux and Corey Lanerie both picked up where they left off when it comes to their winning ways. Geroux, who scored his 2,000th career North American victory here last week, has won 34% of his mounts and Lanerie 21%.

With three sprint stakes wins at the meet – in the Thanksgiving Classic, the Scherer, and the Kenner – the Keith Desormeaux-trained Surveillance leads all horses with $225,000 in earnings. Older router Happy American is 2 for 2 at the current stand, winning both the Tenacious and the Louisiana (G3) for Neil Pessin.

For Louisiana-breds, no one has been more impressive than Touchuponastar, stretching out for the first time to win the Louisiana Champions Day Classic. But the sprinter Bron and Brow deserves mention for backing up his allowance win with a game victory in the inaugural Gary Palmisiano Stakes.

Work tab (notable morning workouts from the past week at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots)

Thursday, Feb.2

Working in company, Curly Jack fired a bullet for trainer Tom Amoss. The Iroquois-winner ran down two stablemates while breezing 5 furlongs in :59.80.

“It’s the work I was looking for with what we were trying to accomplish (having him work in company),” said Amoss.

Curly Jack is pointed to the Risen Star (G2) on Feb. 18.

Last seen in the Silverbulletday, Forest Chimes breezed 4 furlongs in :48.40 for trainer Jason Barkley (6th best of 59 at that distance). No race has been circled yet for this impressive lightly-race filly.

Exiting the Lecomte (G3), a race in which he pulled up late, the Steve Asmussen-trainee Echo Again reappeared on the work tab, clocking 4 furlongs in 1:02.60 (13th best of 18).

Wednesday, Feb. 1

After finishing second in the Lecomte (G3), trainer Larry Rivelli sent Two Phil’s out to breeze 4 furlongs on Wednesday morning with Jareth Loveberry aboard. He went :50.40, the 24th best of 46. Two Phil’s is pointed to the Risen Star (G2) on Feb. 18.

Not having raced since breaking his maiden at Saratoga in August, Disarm posted his fourth local workout on Wednesday. The 3-year-old colt, who could target Louisiana Derby Preview Day on Feb. 18, covered 5 furlongs in 1:01.60 (5th best of 21).

Monday, Jan. 30

A winner on debut for trainer Steve Asmussen, the 3-year-old colt First Defender breezed 5 furlongs in 1:01.40, the best at that distance compared to three workers total.

Free Like a Girl takes watered down Bob F. Wright Memorial

Free Like A Girl with jockey Pedro Cotto, Jr. aboard wins the Bob F. Wright Memorial Stakes. Hodges Photography / Lou Hodges, Jr.

With Ova Charged away, Free Like a Girl will play

With the overwhelming favorite Ova Charged scratched late morning, the door was open for Gerald Bruno, Jr., Carl J. Deville, Jerry Caroom and trainer Chasey Pomier’s Free Like a Girl, and she took full advantage, taking the $75,000 Bob F. Wright Memorial for Louisiana-bred filly and mare sprinters over just two rivals.

“When we checked on her this morning, she had a fever,” trainer Jose Camejo, whose Ova Charged, easily handled Free Like a Girl in the Ladies Sprint on Champions Day. “It’s disappointing, but we have to do what’s right by the horse.”

With both Ova Charged and Snowball scratched, Free Like a Girl needed to defeat only Spirited Beauty and Winning Romance to get the win, and she did just that.

“I think she (Ova Charged) is amazing, but we were ready,” Pomier said. “This is a business. We are all competitive. I hope everything is fine with her and that she comes back good.”

Away alertly, Free Like a Girl went to the lead, but she was quickly challenged on the inside by Spirited Beauty through opening splits of :22.34 and :45.56. She put that foe away and darted away under regular rider Pedro Cotto, Jr. to win away by 2 ¾ lengths in a final time of 1:11.26 for six furlongs over a fast track. Winning Romance failed to menace and finished a distant third.

“I was trying to get her as relaxed as I could and just go from there,” Cotto, Jr. said.

Just one week ago, Free Like a Girl finished second in the open company Pago Hop around two turns. Entered as a “main track only”, she ran when the race was washed off the turn.

“We took a shot that the Pago Hop was going to come off the turf last week in case this race didn’t make it (wasn’t used) because we knew it was going to be just a few horses,” Pomier explained. “We ran her, took a shot and I was able to leave her here with Ron (trainer Faucheux). His crew did an amazing job for us all week. With the short rest, we waited until yesterday afternoon and decided to stay in.”

With the win, Free Like a Girl, who was purchased for just $5,500 as a yearling, moved into the top 20 on the all-time list Louisiana-bred earnings list with $748,128. In the process, she enhanced her record to 22-10-7-3. She paid $3.20 to win.