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.

Trio of Extremely Competitive Louisiana-Bred Stakes on the Louisiana Derby Day Undercard

Two Stakes Wins in and Thirsty For More: Vodka Gimlet Looks to Extend Perfect 3-Year-Old Season in Crescent City Derby

2021 LTBA 2-year-old colt of the year Unified Report returns to the two-turns question

New Orleans, LA (March 23, 2022) — Not much separates the top contenders in the 50th running of the $75,000 Crescent City Derby. In a field of eleven 3-year-old colts and geldings set to run 1 1/16 mile at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, eight of them are exiting a win, eight of them have earned between $35,000 and $65,000, and seven of them have proven themselves around two turns. But three stand-outs have the accolades, earnings, and resume which will keep the rest of the field in tune to their whereabouts as the race for the top Louisiana-bred 3-year-olds unfolds. Based on their resumes, Vodka Gimlet, Unified Report, and More Memories have earned the targets on their backs.

Ellen Epstein’s Vodka Gimlet has enjoyed a perfect sophomore season to this point, winning Delta Down’s Big Drama and Premier Prince in his two 2022 starts. The son of Goldencents has won three races, earned $147,645, and finished ahead of Rebel (G2) winner Un Ojo as a 2-year-old in the Jean Lafitte. Tabbed as the 3-1 morning line favorite, Vodka Gimlet has never been sent out as public choice in any of his seven races. After piloting in both stakes scores, trainer Allen Landry calls on jockey Tommy Pompell to ride from post seven.

Following a perfect 2021 campaign from three starts, Valene Farms’ Unified Report earned LTBA’s top 2-year-old Louisiana-bred colt honors. Among those tallies was a thrilling Louisiana Champions Day Juvenile score at six furlongs. Trainer Dallas Stewart took a shot against open company with his Unified colt in the Lecomte (G3), but that two-turn, 14-length loss as well as his Premier Prince 16-length defeat begs the obvious question — distance. Winner of his last, a March 12 open company optional claiming sprint at Fair Grounds, Unified Report certainly has form and the two-turn question will be in Brian Hernandez, Jr.’s hands, breaking from post nine.

As a Triple Crown nominee, Maggi Moss’ More Memories has the stamp of a 3-year-old’s loftiest expectations. Winner of three of his last four tries at two turns, trainer Tom Amoss has been patient with this More Than Ready colt, running him through his allowance conditions. Impressively beating older state-breds last out attracted the attention of the 2021 Eclipse award winning jockey Joel Rosario, who will leave from post six to take aim at More Memories’ first stakes score.

The field for the $75,000 Crescent City Derby (race 5 at 2:02 pm CT) with post position, jockey/trainer and morning line odds: Whispering Oaks Farm’s Feisty Fist (post one, Kevin Smith/Steve Flint, 8-1 ML), exits five sprint stakes races, including the September win in Evangeline Downs’ D.S. Shine Young Futurity win in the mud; Set-Hut’s Play Mo (post two, Colby Hernandez/Jeff Delhomme, 12-1 ML), recently won a first-level allowance last out on March 16, his first go at two turns; meet-leading owner Brittlyn Stables’ Tambourine Star (post three, Tyler Gaffalione/Jose Camejo, 12-1 ML), goes for his second win after finishing third in his first two attempts at two turns this spring; C and R Racing’s Its Wild Again (post four, Adam Beschizza/Ron Faucheux, 12-1 ML), broke his maiden going two turns last out on second asking; Delanie Calais Jr.’s Cosmic Train (post five, James Graham/Jerry Delhomme, 10-1 ML), took a big step up beating two in this field in early March’s first-level allowance going 1 mile; Maggi Moss’s Triple Crown nominee More Memories (post six, Joel Rosario/Tom Amoss, 5-1 ML), scored his third win against older company in a second-level allowance early March; Ellen Epstein’s Vodka Gimlet (post seven, Tommy Pompell/Allen Landry, 3-1), exits two stakes victories in a row; Dennis Milligan’s Jack Bob and Larry (post eight, Jorge Guzman/Henry Johnson Jr., 8-1 ML), broke his maiden sprinting last out on second asking; Valene Farms’ Unified Report (post nine, Brian Hernandez Jr./Dallas Stewart, 4-1 ML) was voted LTBA’s 2021 2-year-old Colt of the year and he notched his fourth win in six tries last out against open optional claiming company; Dale Ladner’s Bind Faith (post ten, Emanuel Nieves/Brett Brinkman, 12-1 ML), broke his maiden going two turns two races back, then finished fourth to foes Cosmic Train and Tambourine Star last out; Run Bayou Racing’s Itellyouthefacts (post eleven, Roberto Morales/Shane Wilson, 12-1 ML), will make his first start for Shane Wilson after being claimed for $20,000 from his front-running score last out for trainer Bret Calhoun.

 

Living In the Money: Front Runner Serape Puts It on the Line in Crescent City Oaks

Wholelottamo will look to run the front runner down late to win her thirds stakes

Seven of the nine fillies entered in the 17th running of the $75,000 Crescent City Oaks have their confidences boosted by last-out wins, but none won more impressively than Serape.

Eight-for-eight in the money, Harry Benoit’s Serape made the most of her 3-year-old debut, leading from go to woe to win by 8 ½ lengths. In winning against two of her Crescent City Oaks foes in a second-level allowance, she recorded the highest Brisnet Speed Figure of the field with an 89. With the deja vu rail draw/Brian Hernandez Jr. advantage, arguably Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots’ top forward rider winning 24% of his last 202 races onboard an “E” type, there’s little doubt that Brett Brinkman’s daughter by Cinco Charlie will send and set the fractions. Tabbed the 5-2 morning line favorite, Serape’s three show finishes all came in her three previous juvenile stakes attempts.

Stakes-tested six times over, including the win in August’s Louisiana Cup Juvenile Fillies, Thompson Racing’s Wholelottamo beat Jerry Cart’s Miss Jana by a head last out in the Take Charge Brandi. But those two stakes wins plus her maiden opener isn’t enough to earn morning-line favorite status, being designated 3-1 morning line second-favorite, likely because her speed figures fall short of the speed Serape just flashed in her recent win. Tommy Pompell will have his second go aboard the Mo Tom filly breaking from post five.

The field for the $75,000 Crescent City Oaks (race 3 at 1:00 pm CST) with post position, jockey/trainer and morning line odds: Harry Benoit’s Serape (post one, Brian Hernandez Jr./Brett Brinkman, 5-2 ML), is two-for-two going two turns after winning a first-level allowance by 8 ½ lengths last out at Fair Grounds in February; Jerry Cart and Marion Lanasa Jr’s Courtly Doc (post two, Alexander Castillo/Jerry Cart, 12-1 ML), is six-for-six in the money after winning her last two Delta Downs sprints in the mud; the second entry for owner and trainer Jerry Cart, Miss Jana (post three, Jose Guerrero/Jerry Cart, 5-1 ML), was a head short of winner Wholelottamo in the Take Charge Brandi last out; Earl and Keith Hernandez, John Duvieilh, and Steve Landry’s Dreaming of Neany (post four, Marcelino Pedroza, Jr./Sam David Jr., 6-1 ML), recorded her second win going a mile against first-level allowance company last out; Thompson Racing’s Wholelottamo (post five, Tommy Pompell/Jayde Gelner, 3-1 ML), racked up her second stakes victory last out beating Miss Jana by a head in the Take Charge Brandi; Phyllis Hodges’ Bode’s Connection (post six, Emanuel Nieves/James Hodges, 15-1 ML), broke her maiden against $12,500 claimers last out going two turns in her sixth start; William Yarmuth, Susan Yarmuth, and Coteau Grove Farms’ Mishpachah (post seven, Adam Beschizza/Bret Calhoun, 8-1 ML), goes for her second win having won first time out in November and finishing in the top four her next three outings; Billy Lawson and Jeanne Doi’s My Nanny’s a Hoot (post eight, James Graham/Eric Scherer, 8-1 ML), has two turf wins to her resume, including a last-out score in a first-level allowance going a mile; Whispering Oaks Farms’ Buckley Bunny (post nine, Kevin Smith/Steve Flint, 10-1 ML), upset the apple cart winning the Louisiana Champions Day Lassie at 93.20-1 in December.

Bertie’s Galaxy and Alterna Look to Transfer Dirt Hot Streak to the Costa Rising Turf

Majority of connections taking a green stab with their state-bred sprinters

Many of the participants entered in the overflow field of fifteen 3-year-old and up LA-bred turf sprinters for the 12th running of the $75,000 Costa Rising can be similarly summed up in one phrase – unproven on turf. Such uncertainty creates exactly the type of potential chaos that Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots’ bettors love to feast on, as well as the identity-defining win on which a breeder can hang their sire and dam’s turf-sprint hat. Eight entrants are untried or goose-egged on the turf, five have notched one green win, leaving only two of the fifteen with a trio or more grass scores. With the portable rail down after being set at 8 feet or further since March 3rd, the inside part of the course will be fresh and ready for these sprinters’ rail runs.

They may be unproven on the turf, but many of these sprinters have been scorching hot on the dirt, none more so than Alterana. Owned and trained by Keith Charles, the 5-year-old by Alternation has won seven of his last eight since being claimed by Charles for $5,000 last June. The highlight of the run came two back winning the five furlong Ragin Cajun on Delta Downs Premier night. Gerald “G Money” Melancon, who won his 5,000th race in 2021, has been up for all but one of Alterana’s mounts while in Charles’ barn (post nine, 8-1 ML).

In similar fashion, Allen Cassedy’s Bertie’s Galaxy comes blazing into the Costa Rising having won five of his last seven for Fair Grounds’ leading trainer Ron Faucheux. Though all of these have come on the dirt, the Greeley’s Galaxy 6-year-old did score in one of his two turf tries, back in August of 2020. Breaking from post seven, Jareth Loveberry is up again on the 7-2 morning line favorite after guiding the open length wire-to-wire romp in the Premier Sprint at Delta Downs, where Bertie’s Galaxy received a 98 – the highest career Brisnet Speed Figure of anyone in the field.

Three of Valene Farms’ Classy John’s four wins are stakes victories, including last year’s Costa Rising. The Songandaprayer 6-year-old only boasts one win from nine turf tries, but he is grade 2 placed on turf, having run third in the Turf Sprint at Churchill last April the start after his Costa Rising score. Bred by Tom Curtis and Wayne Simpson, Classy John will make his fourth start from Sturges Ducoing’s barn and star-rider Brian Hernandez Jr. who was aboard for the 2021 Costa Rising victory over X Clown will guide 9-2 morning line second-favorite from post two.

The field for the $75,000 Costa Rising at 5 ½ furlongs on turf with the rails down (race 6 at 2:33 pm CT) with post position, jockey/trainer and morning line odds: Israel Flores Horses’ Custom Deelite (post one, Aubrie Green/Andrea Ali,  30-1 ML), took a major step forward last race, winning a second-level, five furlong dirt allowance at Delta Downs by four lengths; Valene Farms’ Classy John (post two, Brian Hernandez, Jr./Sturges Ducoing, 9-2 ML), finished ½ length short against X Clown in a February state-bred optional claimer at Fair Grounds; Set-Hut’s X Clown (post three, James Graham/Jerry Delhomme, 9-2 ML), beat several in the field last out in a February state-bred optional claimer at Fair Grounds; Allen Cassedy and Winalot Racing’s Half Again (post four, Florent Geroux/Ron Faucheux, 8-1 ML), has been sharp in the mornings but has not raced since September’s 4th place finish in a third-level allowance at Louisiana Downs; Brandon Hebert’s Double Barrel Man (post five, Joel Dominguez/Eduardo Ramirez, 15-1 ML), is a 12-time winning 9-year-old making his second start for trainer Ramirez, having won his last outing at Delta Downs against $20,000 claiming company; Dale White Sr.’s Smooth Colliery (post six, Casey Fusilier/Dale White, Sr., 20-1 ML), a 7-year-old looking for win number ten, but he is 0 for 7 on the turf; Allen Cassedy’s Bertie’s Galaxy (post seven, Jareth Loveberry/Ron Faucheux, 7-2 ML), has won five of his last seven races, including last out’s Premier Sprint stakes score on the Delta Downs dirt track, but is only one for two on turf; Larry and Katherine Menard’s A Song for Arch (post eight, Adam Beschizza/Brett Brinkman, 8-1 ML), a turf specialist who tops the filed with five turf sprint wins, including two-back at Fair Grounds over X Clown and Classy John; owned and trained by Keith Charles, Alterana (post nine, Gerald Melancon, 8-1 ML), has won five in a row including the Premier Ragin Cajun two back on the Delta Downs dirt track, but is 0 for 3 on the turf; World War IV Racing’s Hail State (post ten, Joe Stokes/Allen Landry, 12-1 ML), has performed well on the turf, winning and placing over the summer at Evangeline Downs in his only two attempts; owned and trained by Jonah Fuselier, Jake the Band Man (post eleven, Jose Riquelme, 15-1), adds blinkers going for his fourth turf sprint win after finishing third to X Clown and Classy John in a February state-bred optional claimer at Fair Grounds; Land G Racing Stable’s Yankee Seven (post twelve, Marcelino Pedroza Jr./Eduardo Ramirez, 8-1 ML), won his last outing sprinting on Sam Houston’s turf course against second-level allowance foes. Also eligibles include: Treanor MD’s Black Sword (post thirteen, Vicente Del-Cid/Ronnie Averett, 10-1 ML), makes his second turf start after winning Delta Downs optional claiming dirt contest last out; D.J. Stable, Cash is King and West Point Thoroughbreds’ Swot Analysis (post fourteen, Tyler Gaffalione/Mark Casse, 6-1 ML), took a major step forward winning a state-bred optional claiming dirt sprint at Fair Grounds by open lengths last out; Gulf Heaven Farms’ Slither (post fifteen, Emanuel Nieves/Ronnie Ward, 12-1 ML), looks to try turf for the first time after exiting a game place-finish to Black Sword in a February Delta Downs optional claiming dirt contest.

Past performances for all of Fair Grounds races are available on www.Brisnet.com and fans can wager onwww.TwinSpires.com, the official wagering provider of Churchill Downs Inc.

Horse Racing Nation, Fair Grounds join forces

News site & legendary racetrack team to promote Louisiana Derby day

March 17, 2022

Louisville, Ky. & New Orleans, La. — Information meets tradition during Louisiana Derby week when one of horse racing’s leading media sites and one of the country’s oldest racetracks join forces to provide information to bettors.

Horse Racing Nation will provide extensive coverage of Louisiana Derby day at Fair Grounds with editorial and handicapping analysis throughout the week beginning with the draw on Saturday, March 19, and concluding with the $1 million TwinSpires.com Louisiana Derby on March 26.

As part of the content agreement, Horse Racing Nation will also be a part of the Fair Grounds race card as sponsor of the Muniz Memorial Classic presented by Horse Racing Nation.

“As the first 100-point race on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, all eyes will be on Fair Grounds, and there will be no better way to prepare for this great day of wagering than the content Horse Racing Nation plans to provide bettors,” Horse Racing Nation Vice President of Content Ed DeRosa said. “The all-stakes Pick 5 on Louisiana Derby day that includes the Muniz Memorial Classic presented by Horse Racing Nation is one of the most fun sequences all of Kentucky Derby season. We hope to spur a $1 million pool and a record $20 million in handle for the track.”

Along with stakes previews and recaps, Horse Racing Nation will provide advanced analytics of preferred run styles, post positions, pace analysis and pedigree analytics. HRN will provide on-site coverage of Louisiana Derby week, and leading up to the big day with stakes and Pick 5 analysis on all its channels, including Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube. Expanded coverage on Horse Racing Nation’s The Ron Flatter Podcast and HorseCenter podcast is also anticipated.

In addition to the Louisiana Derby and Muniz, the big day of racing includes the TwinSpires.com Fair Grounds Oaks and New Orleans Classic to round out the graded stakes action. The Fair Grounds Oaks is expected to feature the three-year-old debut of last year’s champion Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies winner Echo Zulu.

 

Headquartered in Louisville, Ky., HorseRacingNation.com recorded over 20 million visits to its websites and mobile apps in 2021 and is the largest independent news source in horse racing.

 

Net a Bear Reasserts Her Dominance Winning Red Camelia

Net A Bear with jockey Colby Hernandez aboard wins the 46th running of the $60,000 Red Camelia Stakes at Fair Grounds. Hodges Photography / Lou Hodges, Jr.

Formful Fort Polk doesn’t give an inch, but settles for second

New Orleans, LA (March 5, 2022) In a workmanlike performance, Maximo Lamarche and Frederico Deltoro’s Net a Bear bested her three rivals in the 46th running of the $60,000 Red Camelia Stakes, reasserting her claim yet again as the top Louisiana-bred mare. A versatile 6-year-old who keeps getting better, Net a Bear is now perfect from three starts in 2022. Always ready and willing for trainer Allen Landry, Net a Bear followed up a dirt score in the Premier Distaff at Delta Downs with Saturday’s win on turf.

“She pretty much does whatever you ask,” Allen Landry said. “She is in fine form.”

Traveling a mile over the Stall-Wilson turf course, the odds-on .60-1 favorite Net a Bear tracked the leading pair, while 3.40-1 Offspring’s front-running bid did little to discourage 3.90-1 Fort Polk from tightly pressing less than a length off the 24.47 and 48.84 early calls. Fort Polk took over off the second turn and held the advantage into the stretch, while Net a Bear loomed, gearing up for her late kick down the center of the course. She slowly grinded by Fort Polk late, winning by ¾ of a length and stopping the timer in 1:40.65 with the rail eight feet out on a firm course. It was another four lengths back to Offspring in third and Blessed Anna finished last of the four.

Jockey Colby Hernandez took his first spin aboard Net a Bear, following Landry’s instructions to a T.

“He (Landry) told me not to let her fall too far out of it and don’t rush her up,” Hernandez said. “She broke into a good spot. Down the lane she switched leads and went about her business getting the win.”

Landry has had the 6-year-old mare by Awesome Bet in his barn since the beginning. He notched her fourth win in seven turf starts at Fair Grounds, including the 2020 Red Camelia. Net a Bear now has a lifetime record of 31-11-6-6 with $561,670 in the bank.

 

Special Win for Faucheux as Mangelsen Wires Johnston Memorial

Mangelsen with jockey Jareth Loveberry aboard get a head in front of Treys Midnight Moon to win the 42nd running of the Edward J. Johnston Memorial Stakes at Fair Grounds. Hodges Photography / Lou Hodges, Jr.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Favored Who Took the Money scratched after flipping in the gate

New Orleans, LA (March 5, 2022) — All stakes victories are sweet, but this one touched trainer Ron Faucheux deeply. Though this is the 42nd running of the $60,000 Edward J. Johnston Memorial Stakes, 2022 is the first year it was run under its current title. Named for the recently departed, longtime beloved Louisiana horsemen, Eddie Johnston, a dear friend of and mentor to Faucheux, the race took on added significance.

You wouldn’t be the only one wondering if Johnston had a divine hand in setting the stage for Allen Cassedy’s Mangelsen to succeed as the race was over for the initial post-time favorite before it even began.

Loading into the gate, fans and connections alike had one question – could the chalk Who Took the Money run down the front-running Mangelsen before the wire and win his third race in a row? On this day, that question would not be answered.

The Bret Calhoun-trained colt, who was recently named 3-year-old colt of the year by the Louisiana Thoroughbred Breeders Association, flipped, broke through the gate, and ran off before being caught and scratched. It was the perfect situation for Mangelsen to capitalize on, and following a slight delay, the betting public knew just that, with money shifting heavily to make Mangelsen the eventual .50-1 favorite.

“It was unfortunate the 6 horse (Who Took the Money) scratching,” jockey Jareth Loveberry said. “But our plan was still the same. Go to the front, get him to relax on his own, and carry him home.”

Relaxed and leading through all the 25.11, 49.44, and 1:27.52 calls by as many as four lengths, Mangelsen didn’t feel pressure until the homestretch when 4.00-1 closer Treys Midnite Moon made a move on the rail that put him in front in the deep stretch, but only for a handful of strides. After taking a bad step near the rail earlier on, jockey Jareth Loveberry made sure to finish down the center of the turf course which separated him from his rail-rallying pursuer, but that didn’t stop Mangelsen from seeing the threat, responding, and fighting forward to come home in 1:40.61 for the mile (about) over a firm course with the rail eight feet out.

In the winner’s circle, the emotions came through for Fair Grounds’ 2020-21 leading trainer Faucheux, who with this win regained a one-win lead on four-time Brad Cox for this meet’s crown.

“Today was all about Eddie Johnston and his family coming out,” Faucheux said. “Eddie was one of the greatest friends I have ever had. A true mentor, he taught me so much. I just can’t be happier to win this race. This goes down as maybe the best win of my life. That’s how much Eddie meant to me. This is definitely one I’ll never forget.”

One dimensional and one away from his tenth win, Mangelsen’s career record is now 28-9-4-2, sitting pretty with earnings of $194,800 and ready for his next front-running score.

 

Top three from Louisiana Champions Day Return in Red Camelia

All the best LA-bred fillies and mares have tried, but few can beat Maximo Lamarche and Federico Deltoro’s Net a Bear. Winner of five of her last six and six of 11 turf starts overall, half-million-dollar earning 6-year-old mare looks for career win number 11 in Saturday’s 46th running of the $60,000 Red Camelia Stakes for 3-year-olds and up going 1 mile over the Stall-Wilson turf course at Fair Grounds. Seven-time stake winner, including the 2020 Red Camelia, 9-5 morning line favorite Net a Bear’s best runs have come on the turf, though she exits a dirt stakes score winning the Premiere Distaff at Delta Downs in February.

The last Time Net a Bear lost on turf was last year’s Red Camelia when she finished second to Oak Tree Stables’ Offspring (post two, Jareth Loveberry/Louie Roussel III, 7-2 ML). With three wins on the lawn, all of those have been at the 1 mile Red Camelia distance. Previously trained by Edward Johnston, Offspring makes her second start for trainer Roussel after finishing third last out behind Net a Bear and Blessed Anna.

Putting on quite the run herself, Steven and Pat Roe’s Fort Polk has won 4 out of her last 6–losing to Net a Bear twice in that stretch. But the Patrick Mouton-trained Fort Polk had her say over Net a Bear and Winning Romance in the Louisiana Champions Day Distaff. That was on the dirt course, and when they faced each other again in February, Net a Bear got the win in the Premiere Distaff at Delta Downs. Jorge Guzman will guide Fort Polk from post five as the morning line 5-2 second-favorite.

After taking the lead at the mile call, Wayne Davis’s Blessed Anna ended up third last out when going 1 1/16 miles on the Stall-Wilson turf course. Making her third start for trainer Shane Wilson, Blessed Anna looks for a second win on the grass, though finishing in the exacta seven out of nine times (post four, James Graham, 5-1 ML).

Allied Racing’s Winning Romance sped to the lead and held for 2nd, beating out Net a Bear in the Louisiana Champions Day Distaff. Making her second career start on turf, “Midas Man” Bret Calhoun looks to continue his success transferring dirt horses to the turf course. Calling upon Deshawn Parker to break from the rail, Winning Romance will likely be loose on the lead (9-2).

Whispering Oaks Farm’s Tecate Time looks for her first win on turf and at two turns in the Red Camelia. The three-time winning 4-year-old finished third last out in an allowance at Delta Downs (post three, Mitchell Murrill/Steve Flint, 12-1 ML).

Carded as race four, the first of three turf stakes races on the day, post time is scheduled for 2:35 pm CT.

Who Took the Money’s Form Casts Shadow over Eddie Johnston Field of Eleven

The 42nd edition of the $60,000 Edward J. Johnston Memorial Stakes, running under its current title for the first time on Saturday at Fair Grounds, attracted a large field of LA-bred 3-year-olds and up. Everything from first-time-turfers to multiple turf stake winners will compete on the lawn, but Allied Racing’s Who Took the Money stands out from the crowd.

Winning the Louisiana Champions Day Turf in just his second grass start, Bret Calhoun’s 4-year old is two for three on the lawn after beating a salty group of optional claimers last out, including Louisiana Champions Day Classic winner, Grand Luwegee.  Flashing an impressive late turn of foot in the Louisiana Champions Day Turf, he rallied from 12 lengths back at the third call to win by 5 ¾ lengths over Treys Midnite Moon, Budro Talking, and Mangelsen – all of who will test him again in the Eddie Johnston. Deshawn Parker keeps the mount on the 4/5 morning line favorite and will begin his voyage from post six.

If anyone could steal it from Who Took the Money, Allen Cassedy’s front-runner Mangelsen seems like a logical choice. After speeding off in the Louisiana Champions Day Turf and tiring to finish fourth, Mangelsen’s form came into question next out when losing by 9 ½ lengths as the favorite in an optional claiming starter allowance, but trainer Ron Faucheux righted the ship with the next out effort, as the gelding led throughout to beat three of his Eddie Johnston foes.  Jareth Loveberry will ride Mangelsen for the first time, sending from post seven (9-2 ML).

Multiple turf stakes winner, Hermilo Racing’s Budro Talking will make his first start in Hugo Rodriguez’s barn after being claimed out of the February optional claimer where he finished behind Mangelsen, Get Them Justin, and City Park. With a late-running style, Budro Talking will break from post eight under Mitchell Murrill looking for his 10th lifetime turf win (12-1 ML).

Snake Racing’s 7-year-old Treys Midnite Moon, a 15-time winner with a stakes victory on his resume, looks for his first win in 2022 after finishing on top five times in 2021. Third in his last three starts, including three back to Who Took the Money in the Louisiana Champions Day Turf, trainer “Bunky” Richards calls on James Graham to ride this late-kicker from post five (8-1 ML).

The remainder of the field with post position, jockey/trainer and morning line odds is as follows: Spartan Team investment’s Ballinonabudjet (post one, Colby Hernandez/Michelle Lovell, 15-1 ML) looks to make it three wins in a row while seeking the elusive first turf victory in his sixth attempt; meet-leading owner Brittlyn Stables’ Behemah Star (post two, Reylu Gutierrez/Jose Camejo, 12-1 ML) began his career sprinting and finishing 10th on the grass but has not tried since, though he exits an impressive third-level allowance dirt win at Fair Grounds in January; Autumn Hill Farms’ Get Them Justin (post three, Jose Riquelme/Sturgis Ducoing, 15-1 ML) finished second last out to Mangelsen, improving in his third turf start; Jeanne Dolan’s Changi (post four, Carlos Ulloa/Jeanne Dolan, 30-1 ML) has not won since July 2020 in 19 tries; Norman Stables’ Drewhustle (post nine, Aubrie Green/Lonnie Briley, 20-1 ML) exits a third-place allowance finish at Delta Downs but won the race prior on Fair Grounds’ dirt course; MAT Investments’ City Park (post ten, Pedro Cotto Jr./Eduardo Ramirez, 12-1 ML) is 6 for 7 on the grass, finishing third to Mangelsen and Get Them Justin last out, where he was claimed from Hugo Rodriguez; Glockenburg’s Mr. Universe (post eleven, Jose Vega/Gennadi Dorochenko, 20-1 ML) won against second-level allowance company last out, his second tally in seven turf tries.

Carded as race number eight, the last of three turf stakes races on the day, post time is scheduled for 5:36 pm CT.

 

Murrill Scores Career Win 1,000

Guides the Brad Cox-trained Yin Yang to victory in Sunday’s sixth race

(New Orleans, LA – February, 6, 2022) – Just a little more than eight years into a career that began at Delta Downs on Halloween in 2013, jockey Mitchell Murrill won his 1,000th career race on Sunday at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, guiding Selective Racing’s Yin Yang (2.10-1 second choice) to victory for trainer Brad Cox in the day’s sixth race, an “off the turf” optional claiming/first-level allowance sprint for 3-year-old fillies.

         “I’ve got to thank Brad (trainer Cox),” Murrill said. “This is the first horse I’ve ridden for him in my career, so it’s kind of nice to get into the winner’s circle for him. He told me before the race that the horse (Yin Yang) was going to be keen and to try to get her to relax and keep her running forward. She did it today.”

Earlier on the card Murrill won the fourth race on Cypriano for trainer Chris Hartman, who just two days earlier reached a milestone of his own at Fair Grounds, winning his 1,500th career race. The duo has contributed greatly to each other’s success, teaming up for 82 wins since first joining forces four years ago. Following a five for ten winning streak, Murrill had been in an 0 for 23 slump prior to his fourth race score.

“It’s pretty awesome,” Murrill said of reaching the milestone. “All week it’s been pretty tough to get into the winner’s circle, but we got it done and I can’t be more grateful for everyone who has contributed.”

The 27-year-old native of Mobile, Alabama scored his first career win aboard Golden Barbara on May 28, 2014. Perennially in the top five in the jockey standings at both Fair Grounds and Arlington Park, he had a breakthrough meet in November at Churchill Downs, finishing fifth with 15 wins.  He earned a career-best $5,619,207 in purses in 2021 and counts the 2018 Twinspires.com Fair Grounds Oaks (G3) aboard Chocolate Martini as his biggest win to date.

“Gerard Melancon helped me out from the very beginning when I started riding at Evangeline,” Murrill said. “It’s hard grinding, working. My agent Tim (Hanisch) is out here every day working hard, trying to make connections with everybody and trying to keep everybody happy. We are just trying to put one foot in front of the other and keep moving forward.”

Murrill’s parents and girlfriend had been in attendance earlier in the week, awaiting the milestone win that didn’t come until Sunday.

“I told them if I didn’t win, they had to go home,” Murrill joked. “I wish they could have been here to share this with me.”