New Orleans track to award nearly $7 million in stakes purses.
Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots has announced that 56 stakes worth a total of $6.87 million will be up for grabs for this upcoming 2018-19 racing season, which is set to begin on Thursday, November 15.
Headlining the stakes program is Louisiana Derby Day on March 23, which is the signature day of racing at the New Orleans oval and will feature eight stakes events worth nearly $2.4 million. Highlighting the lucrative stakes program is the 106th running of the Grade II $1 million Louisiana Derby – the final of three local prep races for the Grade I $2 million Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve. The Louisiana Derby’s sister race, the Grade II $400,000 Fair Grounds Oaks, will see its 52nd running and will be contested on the same day for three-year-old fillies wishing to qualify for the Grade I $1 million Longines Kentucky Oaks.
The Grade II $400,000 New Orleans Handicap will run for older horses over the main track at a mile-and-an-eighth distance and the Grade II $300,000 Muniz Memorial Handicap will cover the same ground for older horses over the Stall-Wilson Turf Course. Four additional undercard stakes events are also slated for the program and include the $75,000 New Orleans Ladies Stakes for older fillies and mares going a mile-and-a-sixteenth on the grass. The $60,000 Costa Rising Stakes – a 51/2-furlong turf sprint for Louisiana-breds and the Crescent City Oaks and Crescent City Derby for 3-year-old state breds for $75,000, are also scheduled for Louisiana Derby Day.
“We are proud to again host a lucrative and diverse stakes schedule this season,” said Doug Shipley, President, Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots. “Whether our strong commitment to providing purse supplements for Louisiana-bred horses, hosting the highest caliber horsemen and competitive jockeys in the country or playing a major factor in the Road to the Kentucky Derby, we look forward to our 147th racing season as it continues to add to the great history of New Orleans racing at Fair Grounds.”
Fair Grounds will host a pair of major stakes days that also include prep races on the Road to the Kentucky Derby. On January 19, Fair Grounds will host Road to the Kentucky Derby Kickoff Day which features the Grade III $200,000 Lecomte Stakes – the first of Fair Grounds’ trio of qualifying races for the First Saturday in May. The day will also include the Silverbulletday Stakes, the first local event for Kentucky Oaks aspirants and the Colonel E.R. Bradley Stakes contested for older horses over the Stall-Wilson Turf Course. Both races carry a $125,000 purse. Three more stakes events make up the action packed day of racing – the Louisiana Stakes for older horses going a mile-and-a-sixteenth on the main track, the Duncan F. Kenner Stakes for older horses going six furlongs on the main track and the Marie G. Krantz Memorial Stakes for fillies and mares on the grass. All three stakes are worth $75,000.
Louisiana Derby Preview Day will take place four weeks later on February 16 and features the Grade II $400,000 Risen Star Stakes which offers points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby. The card includes an additional quintet of stakes races like the Grade II $200,000 Rachel Alexandra Stakes, a qualifying race for the Kentucky Oaks. The mile-and-a-sixteenth event for 3-year-old fillies was the sophomore debut for eventual Kentucky Oaks winner Monomoy Girl in its most recent edition. Also taking place on the day are the Grade III $150,000 Mineshaft Handicap for older horses going a mile-and-a-sixteenth on the main track, the Grade III $150,000 Fair Grounds Handicap for older horses going a mile-and-an-eighth on the turf, the $75,000 Colonel Power Stakes for older horses on the turf going 51/2 furlongs and the $75,000 Albert M. Stall Memorial Stakes for older fillies and mares going a mile-and-a-sixteenth on the turf.
Other important stakes days at Fair Grounds include Louisiana Champions Day on December 8. The program features ten stakes that cover different divisions and are restricted to Louisiana-breds. All stakes races are worth $100,000 with the exception of the Louisiana Champions Day Classic, which carries a $150,000 purse.
The Tenacious Stakes (3-year-olds and upward on the main track going one mile and 70 yards), the Bonapaw Stakes (3-year-olds and upward on the turf going 51/2 furlongs), the Blushing K.D. (older fillies and mares on the turf going a mile-and-a-sixteenth), the Buddy Diliberto Stakes (3-year-olds and upward on the turf going a mile-and-a-sixteenth), and the six-furlong Sugar Bowl Stakes for 2-year-old colts and Letellier Memorial Stakes for 2-year-old fillies make up Santa Super Saturday, scheduled for December 22. The sextet of stakes races are worth $75,000 each.
Notable changes to the stakes program include an increase in purse money. All open company stakes events that were worth $50,000 last season were each given a $25,000 enhancement. This boost was given to ten stakes races – the Richard R. Scherer Memorial Stakes (December 1), the December 22 Letellier Memorial Stakes and Sugar Bowl Stakes, the Tiffany Lass Stakes (December 26), the Pan Zareta Stakes (January 5), the Nelson J. Menard Memorial Stakes (February 2), the Colonel Power Stakes (February 16), the Black Gold Stakes (March 2), the Allen LaCombe Stakes (March 9) and the New Orleans Ladies Stakes (March 23).
The stakes program will be kicked off by the $50,000 Tom Benson Overnight Stakes on Opening Night, Thursday, November 15. Named in honor of the late Thoroughbred co-owner and husband of Gayle Benson, the New Orleans icon was co-owner of GMB Racing and the NFL’s New Orleans Saints(r) and NBA’s New Orleans Pelicans(r) until his passing. The one-mile turf event for state-bred fillies and mares was formerly named the Si Cima Overnight Stakes.
Trainer Brad Cox and jockey Shaun Bridgmohan added another Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots championship title to their accomplished resumes for the 2017-18 Winter Meet while owners Maggi Moss and Brad Grady tied for winningest owner with 12 victories apiece.
Moss won her first title at the Fair Grounds since the Winter Meet in 2014-15, where she scored 15 victories. It was a first title for owner Brad Grady, whose meet was highlighted by stakes victories with Triple Chelsea in the Jan 5 Pan Zareta Stakes and the March 10 Nelson J. Menard Memorial Overnight Stakes. Triple Chelsea was trained by Joe Sharp and ridden by jockey Adam Beschizza, who both finished second in their respective divisions.
“It means something to me,” Grady said of his title win. “It’s a cherry on the top. A lot of hard work goes into this, for (trainer) Joe (Sharp) especially. (Jockey) Adam (Beschizza) is a good kid, he came over (from England) two years back and we knew he could really ride. When he came for this meet and Joe asked me if I would support him and I said ‘Absolutely’.”
It was a second consecutive winningest meet for trainer Brad Cox who exited the Winter Meet with 54 trips to the winner’s circle at a 30% win rate. The highlight for Cox’s meet came when Monomoy Girl (one of the favorites for the Gr. I $1 million Longines Kentucky Oaks) took the Gr. II Rachel Alexandra Stakes on February 17. Other strakes events won by Cox trainees include the December 30 Woodchopper Stakes which was won by Mr. Misunderstood. He took two homebred stakes events with Inveniam Viam who found the winner’s circle twice throughout the meet in the Si Cima Stakes on November 18 and the Louisiana Champions Day Ladies Stakes. Other Louisiana-bred stakes winners for Cox this meet were Dontmesswithjoanne, winner of the Red Camelia on March 17 and Extra Credit who won the Louisiana Champions Day Turf Stakes on December 9.
In a race that ended up going right down to the wire, jockey Shaun Bridgmohan scored his first title since taking the 2009-10 Winter Meet. Bridgmohan scored 66 victories on the meet, only one up on newcomer Adam Beschizza. Defending leading rider Florent Geroux was taking aim at his third straight leading Fair Grounds meet, but finished third with 63 victories.
“It was a very fun meet,” Bridgmohan said. “Obviously a lot of credit goes out to my agent (Anthony Martin), he puts me on the right horses. I’ve ridden for some good horsemen and won some nice races this meet. Hard work and dedication came together. It was a competitive jocks room, everyone was in the mix and it goes to show you how competitive it was. It wasn’t a runaway win.”
Stakes victories from Bridgmohan include the Allen “Black Cat” Memorial Overnight Stakes, where he guided Kabella to victory. Earlier in the meet, he teamed up with winning trainer Brad Cox with Extra Credit in the Louisiana Champions Day Turf as well as Inveniam Viam in the Si Cima Stakes on November 18 and the Louisiana Champions Day Ladies Stakes on December 9.
The series of prep races on Churchill Downs’ Road To The Kentucky Derby and Oaks proved themselves to be quite competitive this Winter Meet with different horses showing up to the winner’s circle after each race. Invaders swept the Kentucky Derby prep races with Southern California shipper Instilled Regard taking the Gr. III Lecomte Stakes for Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer. The Gr. II Risen Star Stakes was won by Bravazo, who shipped from Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas’s base at Oaklawn Park. In the final local prep for the Derby, Noble Indy gave trainer Todd Pletcher his fourth win in the Gr. II Louisiana Derby Presented by TwinSpires.com. Meanwhile, the Road To The Kentucky Oaks at the Fair Grounds kicked off with an upset victory from Stronger Than Ever in the Silverbulletday Stakes for trainer Kenny McPeek. In the Gr. II Rachel Alexandra Stakes, Monomoy Girl won her 3-year-old debut for leading trainer Brad Cox while Chocolate Martini took the Gr. II TwinSpires Fair Grounds Oaks for New Orleans native and trainer Tom Amoss.
Pin Oak Stable’s Synchrony was voted Horse of the Winter Meet by Fair Grounds media and racing officials as the only horse to score multiple graded stakes victories this meet. Trained by Mike Stidham, the son of Tapit won the Gr. III Fair Grounds Handicap and Gr. II Muniz Memorial Stakes, both events were contested over the Stall-Wilson Turf Course.
“We are thrilled to have completed another successful live Thoroughbred meet here at Fair Grounds,” said Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots President Doug Shipley. “Once again, we’ve had a competitive jockey group, as well as top quality Thoroughbreds representing some of the most successful horsemen from around the country. That coupled with the fact that we are about to open two new state of the art off-track-wagering facilities in the New Orleans metropolitan area that will continue to bolster our purses for many years to come is equally as exciting. We could not have done this well without the help of our team members who do a great job putting on a spectacular show throughout the meet as well as our loyal guests who show excellent support for the track. This was an exciting meet for everyone affiliated with the Fair Grounds and we look forward to continuing our successful momentum throughout the year.”
Live Thoroughbred action will resume in November.
Star Guitar S.
Fair Grounds, 3-31-18, 8.5f, $75,000
Lone Star Special–Tranquility Bay
Breeder: Tigertail Ranch
Owner: Tigertail Ranch
Trainer: Victor Arceneaux
Jockey: Diego Saenz
Breeder: James A. Mcgehee Jr.
Owner: Double Dam Farm LLC
Trainer: Delmar R. Caldwell
Jockey: Shaun Bridgmohan
Breeder: James McIngvale
Owner: Mallory Greiner
Trainer: Chris Richard
Jockey: Colby J. Hernandez
Louisiana legend Mobile Bay continued his domination against homebred stakes company with a two-length win in the $75,000 Star Guitar Stakes March 31 at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, the final stakes event of the 2017-18 winter meet.
Guided by regular rider Diego Saenz, Mobile Bay broke a step slow and was four wide around the first turn while sitting just off of pacesetter Morning Mischief, who set opening fractions of :24.65 and :48.23. Nubin Ridge was just a length behind in second, while Mobile Bay tracked in third.
Approaching the far turn, Mobile Bay began to inch his way closer and took command at the top of the stretch. Mageez closed late to get second but could not catch the winner, who finished in 1:43.79.
“Once he was in there he didn’t break that well, but at the half-mile pole, I was in a good position to win,” Saenz said. “He’s one of the biggest horses I’ve ever ridden.”
Mobile Bay returned $3.80, $3.00 and $2.10 while Mageez returned $6.60 and $4.00. Underpressure completed the trifecta and brought back $3.00.
The victory added $45,000 to Mobile Bay’s earnings, which now sit at $1,243,440. It also was his fifth consecutive stakes win. He scored in the Louisiana Champions Day Classic Stakes and the LA Bred Premier Night Championship Stakes for the second consecutive year. Other career highlights include wins against open company, which took place in the 2015 Super Derby (G2) at Louisiana Downs and in New Mexico’s Sunland Park Handicap (2016) and Zia Park Derby (2015).
Trainer Victor Arceneaux, who broke Star Guitar as a yearling, was pleased with the effort and stated that Mobile Bay would likely test his domination on the Louisiana-bred circuit in the $100,000 Louisiana Legends Classic at Evangeline Downs May 26.
“Going into the race, I was extremely concerned having Grande Basin and Underpressure in the race,” Arceneaux said. “He beat both of them by a nose. I don’t go into a race overconfident when you beat a horse by a nose. The way the race set up today, he broke a little slow, and Diego was able to rate him and get him to settle in. He had a much stronger finish. He didn’t make me sweat at the wire this time.”
Mobile Bay is by Lone Star Special. He was bred in Louisiana by his owners, Tigertail Ranch, out of the Out of Place mare Tranquility Bay.
The Star Guitar Stakes is named in honor of the all-time richest Louisiana-bred, who also was a four-time Louisiana Horse of the Year. He earned $1,749,862 in career earnings while finding the winner’s circle 24 times in 30 career starts. Such wins included multiple victories in the state of Louisiana’s premier races for homebreds, including the Louisiana Champions Day Classic Stakes, Premier Night Championship Stakes, and Evangeline Mile Handicap. He currently stands at Clear Creek Stud in Folsom, La., for $7,500 and has produced stakes winners Testing One Two, Minit To Stardom, and grade 1-placed Givemeaminit.
Costa Rising Stakes
Fair Grounds, 3-24-18, @5.5 furlongs (turf), $60,000
Accredited Louisiana bred, Four-Year-Olds and Upwards
Custom for Carlos–Sarah’s My Angel
Breeder: Val C. Murrell
Owner: Ivery Sisters Racing
Trainer: Ron Faucheux
Jockey: Adam Beschizza
Rock N Sake
Half Ours–Passion for Words
Breeder: Tom Curtis & Wayne Simpson
Owner: Roy Investments LLC
Trainer: Shane Meche
Jockey: Shaun Bridgmohan
Breeder: J. Adcock & Hume Wornall
Owner: Scrivener Stables
Trainer: Michael J. Maker
Jockey: Jose L. Ortiz
Crescent City Derby
Fair Grounds, 3-24-18, 1 mile 70 yards, $75,000
Accredited Louisiana Breds, Three-year-olds
BATTLE AT SEA
Into Mischief–Mystery At Sea
Breeder: Clear Creek Stud LlLC
Owner: Three Diamonds Farm
Trainer: Michael J. Maker
Jockey: Jose L. Ortiz
Pound for Pound
Redding Colliery–Buttercup’s Song
Breeder: J. Adcock & B&B Bloodstock
Owner: Israel Flores Horses LLC
Trainer: Jose Grimaldo
Jockey: Florent Geroux
Custom for Carlos–Tensas Wedding Joy
Breeder: Curt Leake & Elm Tree Farm , LLC
Owner: Zedan Racing Stables Inc
Trainer: Doug F. O’Neill
Jockey: Terry J. Thompson
NEW ORLEANS (March 24, 2018) – Three Diamonds Farm’s Battle At Sea successfully transitioned into stakes company with a win in the $75,000 Crescent City Derby against state-bred competition.
Coming off a gate-to-wire maiden breaking score February 10, the 3-year-old trained by Mike Maker led his foes from start to finish again Saturday with Jose Ortiz aboard.
“Going into the race, I saw some speed to my inside but when I went to the post parade he was really keen and pulling me,” Ortiz said. “When I got to the lead, he relaxed. I felt like I was going fast but he was relaxed. When I asked him to go, he gave me a little run.”
Battle At Sea opened up on the field going down the backside after posting splits of 23.28 and 46.69. He shrugged off a challenge from eventual third-place finisher Gracida around the turn, and never relinquished his advantage. He crossed the line 2 1/4 lengths clear of second-place finisher Pound for Pound. The final time was 1:44.90. Double Star rounded out the superfecta. Sent off at 7-1, Battle At Sea paid $17.40, $7.40, $4.80.
Three Diamonds Farm bought the son of Into Mischief for $55,000 at last year’s OBS March 2-year-olds in training sale. He debuted at Churchill Downs in June only a few months later with a fourth-place finish but did not start again until December 29.
“He had a little injury at Saratoga so we had to give him some time off,” Maker said. “We were pointing to this meet. He’s a big old horse that wants more ground.”
That seems to be the case as the Louisiana-bred is now 2-for-2 around two turns.
Rounding out the field were Double Star, Treys Midnite Moon, Gladyousawme, Grand Luwegee, Uncle Nearis and Ready Prospector.
Crescent City Oaks
Fair Grounds, 3-24-18, 1 mile 70 yards, $75,000
Accredited Louisiana Breds, Three-year-old fillies
TESTING ONE TWO
Star Guitar–Yes Sir
Breeder: Brittlyn, Inc.
Owner: Brittlyn Stable, Inc.
Trainer: Victor Arceneaux
Jockey: Diego Saenz
Tale of the Cat–Wine Diva
Breeder: Becky Winemiller
Owner: Diamond Racing, Inc., Janssen, J., Janssen, J., Camodeca, P. and Camodeca, N.
Trainer: Leo G. Gabriel, Jr.
Jockey: Corey J. Lanerie
Breeder: Al Ulwelling & Bill Ulwelling
Owner: Al Ulwelling & Bill Ulwelling
Trainer: Gary M. Scherer
Jockey: Mitchell Murrill
Earlier on the card, Brittlyn Stable’s Testing One Two made amends in the $75,000 Crescent City Oaks five weeks after a fifth-place finish in the Gr. II Rachel Alexandra Stakes.
Testing One Two pounced from a stalking position around the far-turn and went clear of her Louisiana-bred competition in the stretch to win by 3 1/4 lengths. The final time for the 1-mile 70 yards distance was 1:43.21.
“Last time she wasn’t really prepared for this stretch but she was so game,” said Evelyn Benoit, owner of Brittlyn Stables Inc. “I just hoped she could relax and do her thing today.”
With her win Saturday, Testing One Two improved her record to four wins from six starts and $199,135 in earnings.
Jockey Diego Saenz has ridden the filly in each of those starts.
“All I needed was to have a clear trip and I got it,” Saenz said. “I felt like I had it from the three-eighths pole because I was where I wanted, on the outside, and she finished strong.”
A daughter of Star Guitar, Testing One Two is a homebred for Evelyn Benoit’s Brittlyn Stable.
“I didn’t expect this filly to be better than Minit To Stardom, who is undefeated right now, we thought she would be the superhero,” Benoit said. “I’ve been breeding horses for close to 40 years. Every year Star’s babies are looking great. We’ve had 19 born this so far this year and they look fabulous.”
The connection between Arceneaux and Benoit dates back to Star Guitar.
“He actually broke Star Guitar. He was my Kindergarten teacher, and now I gave him the opportunity to be the trainer,” Benoit said. “I have seven or eight trainers right now and I think I’m going add two more. We understand that a lot of people don’t want to come to Louisiana to breed to Star Guitar so we’re going to send them all over. That’s a great way for people to see them.”
Arceneaux and Benoit noted after the race that Testing One Two be sent out of town in her next start.
“We’re thinking about the (Gr. II $250,000) Black Eyed Susan (at Pimlico on May 18) next,” Benoit said.
Rounding out the field are Special Blessing, Saint’s Girl, Tap Dance Star and Thegrayspider.
A three-horse spill in Thursday’s eighth race at Fair Grounds Race Course & slots injured a pair of riders. Kerwin Clark was aboard ill-fated Ellashoo when the 4-year-old filly broke down nearing the five-sixteenth’s pole, setting off a chain reaction that resulted a pair of other horses falling – A Fashion Affair (Miguel Mena) and Queen Bernardina (Gabriel Saez).
Clark complained of pain in his neck, jaw and ribs and Miguel Mena, who entered the day as Fair Grounds leading rider at the meet with 55 victories, suffered an injury to his right ankle. Both were transported to University Medical Center of New Orleans for further evaluation.
Mena was diagnosed with multiple fractures in his right ankle and heel, according to drf.com. The jockey could miss as much as six months because of the injury.
Clark suffered a collapsed lung, a broken jaw, and at least one broken rib, per his agent, Charles Ashy Jr.
Saez got up under his own power and rode the next race. Ellashoo had to be put down. Trainer Bret Calhoun reported that his Queen Bernardina “appears to be fine”. Andrew Valenzuela, trainer of A Fashion Affair, was unable to be reached.
Red Camelia Stakes
Fair Grounds, 3-17-18, @ 1 mile, turf, $60,000
Accredited Louisiana Breds, 4-Year-Olds and Upwards, Fillies and Mares
Pioneerof the Nile–Cinnamon Kisses
Breeder: Gulf Haven Farms, LLC
Owner: Zayat Stables, LLC
Trainer: Brad H. Cox
Jockey: Joe Bravo
Mr. Al’s Gal
Salute the Sarge–Spanish Ice
Breeder: J. Adcock & Neal McFadden
Owner: Brittlyn Stable, Inc.
Trainer: Justin Jeansonne
Jockey: Diego Saenz
Breeder: James McIngvale
Owner: HP Thoroughbreds LLC (Brandon Hillman)
Trainer: Ricky Courville
Jockey: Ashley Broussard
By Ryan Martin
Zayat Stables LLC’s Dontmesswithjoanne ($12.60, $5.80, $4.20) laid well off the pace to score and made a big move down the top of the stretch to defeat ten other Louisiana-bred fillies and mares in the 42nd running of the Red Camelia Stakes over the Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots’ Stall-Wilson Turf Course on Saturday afternoon.
Trained by Brad Cox, the 4-year-old daughter of Pioneerof the Nile was saving ground around the first turn and was unhurried throughout the early stages of the race. Meanwhile, Florida invader Viva Vegas set a slow pace early on and produced opening fractions of 24.05, 48.77, and 1:15.01. Mr. Al’s Gal tracked not too far behind in second. At the top of the stretch, Viva Vegas’ lead began to dwindle but she still appeared to have something left. However, Mr. Al’s Gal began to purse Viva Vegas to her inside and briefly took the lead, but was unable to hold off a charge from Dontmesswithjoanne who won going away with Joe Bravo in the irons. Mr. Al’s Gal ($6.60, $6.80) was second and 71-1 longshot Pera finished third ($19.60). Dontmesswithjoanne finished in a time of 1:40.48.
“You had those times and with the soft turf I think they got a hold of it,” Bravo said. “With a filly like this you just have to make sure that she was happy. She picked herself and went with it. When you ride the best horse, it’s easy. That’s the bottom line.”
The Red Camelia Stakes was a first stakes victory for Dontmesswithjoanne, which pushed her career earnings to $158,695. She earned $36,000 from Saturday’s win. In 11 career starts, she has won four races with three seconds and one third.
Rounding out the order of finish were Pacific Pink, Viva Vegas, Inveniam Viam, Safari Calamari, P Boo, Temple Shadow, Tap City Baby and Beleiveinsomething.