Cilla Digs In but cannot hold off the focused Star Guitar filly
New Orleans (December 11, 2020) – For some, the most anticipated and most hyped race on Saturday’s Louisiana Champions Day card was over in the paddock. Prior to the $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Ladies Sprint, one of ten stakes on the day, Ova Charged, the beautiful bay by Star Guitar, out of Cotton Charged, made her rounds – beaming, confident, focused. She has looked like a champion in her stall, in her workouts, beating optional claimers two weeks prior on November 28th, but what about up against the best filly and mare sprinters in Louisiana—did this lightly raced filly have enough to take on the class and grit of graded stakes winner Cilla?
The answer is yes.
76.00-1 longshot Sumitup hustled through the mix of sharp breaks to get the lead and sped on setting the opening ¼ fraction of 21:89. Breaking inside the early leader, second choice 1.90-1 Cilla was close to the front but relaxed and shifted to one path outside to be joined by quickening 25.30-1 shot Sarah’s Passion, who pressed tightly and did not let up pressure. The pair moved through the turn behind the leader but took over the front at the half pole. And that’s when everyone wondered, where is .40-1 favorite Ova Charged?
Breaking slowest of the field, rider Reylu Gutierrez guided Ova Charged at the back of the pack going four-wide through the turn while targeting the main foe. As Cilla put away Sarah’s Passion, it looked like she could sustain. Drifting in, Ova Charged seemed to lose focus but Gutierrez came with the crop and Star Guitar’s talented 3-year-old showed more than talent, digging in with Cilla in her sights and the finishing line just beyond, Ova Charged showed the heart of a Louisiana-bred champion and won by ¾ length over Cilla who never gave up. Five starts, four wins and one graded stakes second totaling $174,600 lifetime earnings. The connections were in attendance and they were proud.
“It’s an honor to ride for Jose’s stable, to ride Ova Charged,” jockey Reylu Gutierrez said. “What a smart, talented, strong, physically and mentally imposing filly. I am really delighted I can ride her. Two champion fillies neither of them deserved to lose.”
Cilla’s trainer Brett Brinkman had indicated before the race that the goal was to keep teaching Cilla to relax, but when you get drawn the 3 post, inside a filly like Ova Charged, it forced their hand when it came time to run.
“The post position dictated what we had to do,” Brinkman said. “The only two disappointing finishes I’ve had with her lately have been in the lane and we’ve been the target. When we are fixed on a target, we are much better off. I think that’s the same way with his filly [Ova Charged]. She’s a fighter, those are two good mares right there. She had the benefit of a recent race, which is no excuse. My filly fights, she’s good. I’d like to turn the tables and have the outside the other way and force his hand. That’s just the competitor in me.”
After the slow start, Ova Charged’s connections didn’t know this race could unfold in their favor.
“I was worried at the beginning because she didn’t break sharp,” Fair Grounds co-leading trainer Jose Camjo said. “When she was coming home I knew she had a lot of horse left, but I knew she still had to pass the three [Cilla]. She got it done and we are so proud of what she did.”
The other co-leading trainer, Ron Faucheux, sent out 15.30 – 1 Strong Beauty who finished well for third place. An impressive turning out by her and the other sharp fillies in this race. 25.30 – 1 Sarah’s Passion holding on for fourth. 14 – 1 Snowball finished fifth. Then 116.70 – 1 Sienna Breeze finished ahead of the tiring early speed Sumitup.
On a day dedicated to Louisiana’s best horses and horsemen, Ova Charged owner’s said it best:
“Louisiana I love you,” said Eveyln Benoit of Brittlyn Stables. “And I love Star Guitar.”
As for Cilla’s next steps, her trainer has a solid plan.
“I am shooting for a summer career with her,” Brinkman said. “We weren’t pointing to this race but it was a race I wanted to hit. We’ll look to hit a race in February, then we are going back up the country.”
Grand Luwegee Doesn’t Quit, Winning
Second Classic in Front Running Fashion
Favored Highland Creek leads catch the two-time winner
New Orleans (December 11, 2020) – Inquiring horses want to know: What’s the secret to running faster, looking fitter, and being flush with cash? Get a trainer like Gerard Perron to keep tabs on you, and a rider like Colby Hernandez to guide you across the finish line. Easy as cannoli. Or at least that’s how Grand Luwegee makes it look. But winning again in gate to wire fashion began in the mornings. The result – a successful repeat in the $150,000 Louisiana Champions Day Classic.
“We trained him hard,” Gerard Perron said of Grand Luwegee, who won last year’s edition at 52-1. “He ran faster than the last time he won [The LA Champ Classic], so we are really happy with him. We thought he was carrying a little too much weight, and we trained him extra hard. He lost a little bit of weight and he picked up some speed on him.”
With the rail draw, 3.00-1 third choice Grand Luwegee cleared the field and rounded the opening turn two wide setting early fractions of 23.54, 47.70, then relaxing and widening his advantage through 1:12.81, 1:37.89 and coming home in 1:51.00. Not much movement behind him as 2019 Classic Champion 1.80-1 Pound for Pound, piloted by Aubrie Green stalked in second through the first turn to move in tighter through the final bend, but when the writing was on the wall, he began to lose interest and shift lanes to hold on for third. Marginally favored by the betting public, 1.40-1 Highland Creek had been cross-entered in theTurf but trainer Bret Calhoun opted to run eventual winner Who Took the Money in that spot instead. Breaking from the outside position, rider Adam Beschizza guided him to the rail to lead the second group 3 to 4 lengths behind Grand Luwegee.
When it came time, he could only chase the winner and finished three lengths back.
“They were honest fractions, 23, 47,” Beschizza said. “My horse has similar tactics. He was sitting on second here and he made a good move like he did last year. He’s got a good explosive kick, but I just got out-kicked and I couldn’t pull him back. The horse ran with his heart on his sleeve and that’s what you want.”
A career record of 30 – 8 – 6 – 4 and lifetime earnings of $491,150, Grand Luwegee’s two Classic scores have come with Colby Hernandez on board.
“Coming out of the one hole we were definitely going to run just like last time. Gerrad (trainer Perron) and his staff did a great job of getting this horse to the race and he ran a very hard race,” Hernandez said. “Turning for home, when I slapped her more on the shoulder, she kicked on.”
Fort Polk Nets Her Foe, Plants Flag in Fair Grounds Dirt
A sharp effort from Calhoun’s Winning Romance falls two lengths short
New Orleans (December 11, 2020) – Everyone knows the secret to winning begins with getting your opponent on your court, not theirs. For Fort Polk, the 3.10 third choice in the $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Ladies Distaff, home court advantage is the Fair Grounds main track. It may have been just what this improving 6-year old needed to beat the one horse who almost always has gotten the best of her, the 2.20-1 second choice Net a Bear. The much-loved previous Louisiana Champion could only muster finishing third of five.
It was a valiant effort by the bettor’s 1.30-1 favorite Winning Romance to set the early fractions of 24.63 and 48.85 and hold on for second. But jockey Jorge Guzman and Fort Polk took it to her coming into the turn, accelerating three wide, passing at the ¾ pole and keeping to business in the homestretch to win by two lengths. Make it $226,650 in lifetime earnings and a 30-7-4-8 record for this daughter by Behindatthebar that has been with trainer Patrick Mouton’s barn from day one.
“She’s always been a good horse,” Mouton said. “Actually, I think she is getting better with age. She is going to be 6 pretty soon. She ran super all summer. We got beat only once when we ran on turf and she doesn’t really care for the turf.”
Fort Polk has won four out of the last five since adding blinkers. The one loss coming on turf – to Net A Bear. Jockey Jorge Guzman had a ton of horse that day but went wide in traffic and had to pump the breaks often when Fort Polk got in too tight and Net a Bear left her in the clippings. Tables turned in the Louisiana Champions Day Ladies Distaff and Fort Polk gave her five lengths of dirt to chew on until they meet again.
“She was a little flat,” Net a Bear’s regular rider Timothy Thornton said. “We know she is better on the grass, but you know we were hoping it would set up good for her. She ran her race, she was just a little bit flat. She is a much better grass horse than on the dirt. She is a nice filly. I was tracking the winner the whole way around there and when he went at the 3/8ths pole, I tried going with him, but she just didn’t have enough.”
The pace unfolded as expected as Winning Romance took the lead, Elieen Alexandra pressed, Quikfast n Ahurry sat the pocket trip and Net a Bear followed Fort Polk through two turns. Winning Romance ran well enough but early company made it hard to battle and sustain.
“We got pressured from the 5 [Eileen Alexandra] down the back stretch,” Winning romance’s rider Deshawn Parker said, “but she gave her all to the finish.”
Louisiana Champions Day is like the Breeders Cup for local connections. They target these races and put their hearts into reaching the winner’s circle. Once there, Patrick Mouton took it all in and expressed his satisfaction.
“Listen, I don’t travel, I stay here in the state,” Mouton said. “I stay in Louisiana 99 and 9/10% of the time,” Mouton said. “Winning this kind of race is a big deal, it’s the epitome.”
Who Took the Money Gets the Dough on the Turf
Last year on dirt, this year on grass, Allied Racing Stable
homebred wins on Champions Day for the second consecutive year
New Orleans (December 11, 2020) – The Allied Racing Stable homebred has been a challenge in many ways, but in Saturday’s $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Turf, he may have found his niche.
Off slowly in the field of 11, the 3-year-old gelded son of Street Boss, was far off the early pace set by 1.30-1 favorite Mangelsen through honest early fractions of 23.81, 48.97 and 1:14.15 with the rail 20 feet out on the Stall-Wilson Turf Course, but once jockey Deshawn Parker found clear sailing to the outside, the horse did the rest.
“We wanted to get a little better break, but he didn’t break too sharp today,” Parker said. “He was so relaxed on the backside. When I called on him, he gave me an explosion. He gobbled them up so fast. As soon as I got to them, he just rolled by.”
Sent off as the third choice at 3.40-1, Who Took the Money stopped the timer in 1:45.93 for the 1 1/16 miles distance on grass, besting fellow deep closers Budro Talking (13.40-1), also trained by Calhoun) and Treys Midnight Moon by 5 ¾ and 7 ¾ lengths respectively, while the pacesetting Mangelsen faded to third.
Who Took the Money was cross entered in the Classic, but trainer Bret Calhoun opted to run eventual runner-up Highland Creek there instead.
“We tried him (Who Took the Money) on turf once before and he ran alright,” Calhoun said. “We had two horses that could have gone either way so I had to make a tough decision. Knowing his pedigree, I just thought he would be the right one for the grass. He really showed the kind of turn of foot today that we were wanting to see. We were disappointed a little early on because of the break and we were kind of buried behind traffic. I wasn’t optimistic early in the race, but when he (rider Parker) kicked him out. The horse exploded.”
Last year as a 3-year-old, Who Took the Money flipped in the post parade prior to the running of the Crescent City Derby, but won the race anyway as the .50-1 favorite. His behavior hasn’t improved all that much since.
“He’s not as difficult to train as he is to run,” Calhoun explained. “The antics in the paddock and going to the gate, he’ll test you. He’s got quite a bit of ability, but he’s got some (mental) issues.”
With the win, Who Took the Money boosted his record to 8-5-0-1 with earnings of $217,627.
“At the top of the stretch I was looking at Bret and I didn’t think we had a shot, and then boom,” Thomas said. “We really didn’t know what to expect. We thought he’d be alright on the turf. Bret made a good call (to run him in this race). Deshawn rode a great race. We’re delighted.”
Emmanuel Nieves (rode Budro Talking, who finished second)
“I’ve got patience,” Emmanuel Nieves said. “When I feel comfortable, I love running from behind. Today I had the perfect trip and everything. I thought I was home free but the other horse flew by me. For the team, for both Brett’s [Calhoun] horses, I am happy we ran first and second.”
Buckley Bunny Bounds Home in Lassie
Whispering Oaks homebred lights up the toteboard at 93-1
New Orleans (December 11, 2020) – In what was easily the biggest upset of Saturday’s Louisiana Champions Day card, the Whispering Oaks Farm homebred Buckley Bunny rallied from far off the pace to take down the $100,000 Lassie
Ninth early behind contested fractions of 21.98 and 45.86, the sophomore daughter of Iron Fist picked off a couple of horses on the turn under jockey Kevin Smith before uncorking the winning, five-wide rally in the stretch.
“The plan was just letting her settle herself in and make one run with her. Mr. Steve (trainer Flint) said don’t rush her. I took her back, waited until the 3/8ths pole and let her run. I did what he told me to do. When I let her go, she fought.”
Basalt Street (6.00-1) and Beleout (37.10) battled early, with 2.00-1 favorite Free Like a Girl, the winner of three consecutive stakes coming in, tucked in fifth. She tipped out three-wide and made a solid bid in the stretch, but was simply outkicked by the longshot winner, losing by ¾ of a length over six furlongs run in 1:11.76. It was just another neck back to the late closing Medley (3.80-1) in third.
“I don’t think she had any pace to run into last time,” Flint explained. “It’s not like filly the filly wouldn’t appreciate a stretch like today. We had some pace. Kevin rode her to a tee. I told him, don’t move until you hit the 3/8ths pole, let her go, and let’s see what we got. She responded well. I got a little of that (93-1).”
A winner at first asking back in June, Buckley Bunny entered the Lassie on a four-race losing streak. She now sports a career record of 6-2-1-1 with earnings of $93.660.
Monte Man Does It Again
8-year-old veteran repeats in Sprint
New Orleans (December 11, 2020) – At the age of eight, Ivery Sisters Racing’s Monte Man is the gift that keeps on giving. Claimed for $25,000 way back in October of 2017, the son of Custom for Carlos scored the ninth stakes win of his career on Saturday, repeating the $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Sprint.
Fourth behind hot and contested early fractions of 21.58 and 44.53 set by his stablemate Bertie’s Galaxy with pressure from Takes Two To Tango, Swot Analysis and the 1.4-1 favorite No Parole, the table was set, and Monte Man feasted in the stretch.
“Before the race, Ron (trainer Faucheux) and I could almost see it playing into his favor,” Beschizza said. “All the credit to the horse. He’s just an iron horse, really. A couple of years ago, they (the connections) could have just retired him and given him a nice second life, but he just seems to be so spontaneous in the mornings. Ron just tells me that, year after year. True to that word, he’s bounced back here and Ron had him in great shape. The team has been a huge supporter of mine and I can’t thank them enough.”
Bertie’s Galaxy (3.50-1) dug in gamely in the stretch, but he could not hold off Monte Man, who prevailed by ¾ of a length, stopping the timer in 1:09.91. It was 4 ½ lengths back to Sir Wellington (4.40-1 in third. No Parole, the former Grade I winner, pressed the pace briefly while four-wide, but he failed to make the course.
“He (No Parole) is fine, but since his layoff, he hasn’t shown that he wants to compete in the afternoons despite working well in the mornings,” trainer Tom Amoss said of No Parole. He is completely sound and Maggi (owner Moss) has decided to retire him.”
In his first start off the claim for trainer Ron Faucheux Monte Man won a local optional-claimer in December 2017, which was the start of a seven-race winning streak. After running third in the Sprint in 2018 and fourth in the 2019 renewal, Monte Man won the race last year, and he was up to the task once again.
“I think he’s just getting better, we’re just getting started with him, you know, we got a long way to go,” Faucheux said in jest. “He’s every trainer’s dream. He’s just so consistent. He gives it his all every race. To have an 8-year-old turning nine, stay sound throughout the whole process, and just continue to progress, it’s unbelievable. It’s real privilege to train him for Ivery Sister Racing. They let us place him appropriately, take our time between races, and that makes all the difference with this horse. We 100% will go for the three-peat as a 9-year-old.”
Monte Man boosted his career record to 50-18-8-9 with earnings of $794,223.
Jareth Loveberry (rode Bertie’s Galaxy, who finished second)
“It was kinda tough down the backside” jockey Jareth Loveberry said. “I was in a tight spot and I had to keep him where he was so I didn’t get shuffled back. I had to use him just a little bit early maybe it cost me at the end. But he ran his heart out. He dug in and ran really good.”
Unified Report Passes Another Test in Lassie
Sophomore filly shows a new dimension to remain undefeated
New Orleans (December 11, 2020) – On Monday, trainer Dallas Stewart welcomed his first grandchild into the world, and just a few short days later, Henry Lane Stewart and family watched from afar as Valene Farms’ Unified Report would score yet another Louisiana Champions Day win for grandpa.
Sent off as the .70-1 favorite in the $100,000 Juvenile, the sophomore son of Unified, tracked the pace set by the embattled Grunt and Charco through contested fractions of 21.76 and 45.63. Four-wide on the turn for home, he battled briefly with eventual third place finisher Charco mid-stretch before putting that rival away. Unified Report led into the deep stretch, and held safe of the late closing 1.80-1 second choice, the maiden Bron and Brow, stopping the timer in 1:10.55.
“Truly it all goes back to thanking Mr. Murray (owner Valene),” Hernandez said. “Year after year, he just keeps finding these really good Louisiana-breds. I think this is like the third or fourth year in a row we’ve won one of these 2-year-old (stakes) races. He (Unified Report) looked like he was the best horse in the race and I just did my job, give him the cleanest trip we could. He’s a young horse, but he was two for two (coming in) so he’s got a little experience behind him. There were for of them in front, so I just let him find his rhythm, I got him in the clear and off he went. What really impressed me today was the way he galloped out. He hit the wire and kind of stepped away from those horses again, so he kind of shows you that he wants to stretch out and go to two turns.”
With the win, Unified Report remained perfect from three starts, increasing his bankroll to $154,720 in the process.
Bron and Brow, who finished third at Del Mar in his career debut, added blinkers for the Juvenile, and after a difficult trip with some traffic trouble, he too stamped himself as a youngster to watch.
“It was a little troubled trip for me,” jockey Deshawn Parker admitted. “He was trying to run and had nowhere to go for a while. So once I came out of the turn, I tried to dig him out. But it was real trouble. Trouble. He’s a maiden but he won’t be a maiden much longer.”
“We had a horrible trip,” assistant trainer David Carroll added. “He was loaded the whole way, had to check hard off heels, then had to wait for room. He closed fast. To me, he was much the best horse in the race. He’s a talented colt and we look forward to running him back. That’s racing.”
A longtime supporter of Louisiana racing, Murray Valene was thrilled with his colt’s performance.
“We had an undefeated filly (Big Time) win for us on this day last year, and this year it was the colt (Unified Report),” Valene said. “I want to thank Dallas Stewart and his team for doing such a great job. This colt looks like he wants to go longer and he might have the talent to do it successfully.”
Quarter Horse stakes recaps provided by H. David Smith
Louisiana Champions Day Quarter Horse Classic Ends In Thrilling Dead Heat
New Orleans (December 11, 2020) – Multiple stakes winners Eyeondaprize and Lifeinthefastlanes battled to a dead heat Saturday in the $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Quarter Horse Classic(RG2) at Fairgrounds Race Course in New Orleans.
The pair of 4-year-old Louisiana-Bred fillies stopped the clock in :21.454 seconds for the 440 yards, equaling a 105 speed index with an 8 mph tailwind. Each filly earned $32,500 for her effort.
Coming off a win in the Opelousas Stakes on November 13th, Lifeinthefastlanes got her 11th win in 17 starts to bring her earnings total to $514,381. The daughter of multiple stakes sire Jess Louisiana Blue was making only her third career start for owner Paragon Farms LLC. Wade and Kay Loup, Jr. bred Lifeinthefastlanes from the Panther Mountain mare Pantherinthefastlane. David Alvarez had the riding call for champion trainer Kenny Roberts.
“The delay was difficult because she’s one of these fillies that gets nerved up,” Roberts said. “But she ran a real good race, and is one of the best I’ve had. I believe this will be her last race.”
Coming off a win in the French Quarter Stakes at Evangeline Downs October 30th, Eyeondaprize picked up her eighth career win in 19 starts to bring her earnings total to $142,660. Trainer Rosendo Valdez, Jr. conditions the daughter of multiple stakes sire Fast Prize Jordan for owner Rosendo Valdez.
Daniel Trahan bred the brown filly from the Game Patriot mare Good Game Meg. Noe Castaneda was up.
“She responded pretty good at the end,” Castaneda said following the winning ride. “I knew she had the talent to go far; I never gave up on her and she never gave up.”
Tuckers Prize finished 1-¼ lengths behind the leaders to earn $10,000 for third. Owned-and-trained by Preston Jourdan, the 5-year-old graded stakes winning son of multiple stakes sire Fast Prize Dash was ridden by Ubaldo Luna. Kirby and Phillip Bruchhaus bred the $206,375 earner from the Game Patriot mare Bb Secrets Game.
Maggies Runaway, Lightemupwithcharm, Heza Bell Perry Jr, Jrs Corona Toast and Hezjessmagic completed the field. Apollitical B Snow was scratched at the gate.
Additional reporting by Martha Claussen.
Quid Pro Quo Surprises In Louisiana Champions Day Quarter Horse Juvenile
New Orleans (December 11, 2020) – Quid Pro Quo (15-1), a 2-year-old son of multiple stakes sire Five Bar Cartel, got his first career stakes win on Saturday when he soundly defeated Gamefaceprize by three-quarter’s in the restricted Grade 2 $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Quarter Horse Juvenile at Fairgrounds Race Course.
Quid Pro Quo lugged out late under jockey Bobby Ransom while clocking :17.583 seconds for the 350 yards, a 99 speed index into a 12 mph crosswind. It was the fourth win in seven starts for the sorrel gelding.
The $45,000 Champions Juvenile’ winner’s purse doubled Quid Pro Quo’s earnings mark to $93,132 for the year. Trainer Josue Huitron sent out the sorrel gelding for owner Jeronimo Silva from Cullman, Alabama.
“With these young horses you never know, Huitron said after the race. “Today he ran big, and we were proud of him.”
The 2-year-old was also a finalist in the restricted Grade 1 Lee Berwick Futurity at Delta Downs last summer.
“This is my first stakes win,” Silva said after the race. “Maybe it’s beginners luck but will take it!”
Gerard Hebert bred Quid Pro Quo from Jess Tempting To Fly by Tempting Dash.
Quid Pro Quo rewarded backers with $31.40 to win, $16.40 to show and $8.40 to place.
Runner-up Gamefaceprize picked up $17,000 for his second-place effort. The Fast Prize Dash gelding bumped in at the start under jockey Ariel Rodriguez. Orlando Orozco trains the bay gelding for owner Miguel Hernandez.
Jack Willie bred Gamefaceprize from the Game Patriot mare Baby This Girls Game. A finalist in the Mardi Gras Futurity(RG2) in March, he has earned $70,097 in 10 starts this year.
Rosendo Valdez and Rosendo Valdez, Jr., winning owner and trainer of the Louisiana Champions Day Quarter Horse Classic(RG2) in the opening race today, sent out post-time favorite Jess Sweet Enough to finish half-a-length back an earn $10,000 for third.
Everardo Rodriguez rode the One Sweet Jess gelding out of Devilwithabluedress by Corona Cartel. Jess Sweet Enough has banked $47,500 in eight starts.
Return The Queen, Kp Prospect Luna, Amazing Blood, Soft On The Freight, Tdz Royal Runaway, Jess Louisiana, Railroad Jimmy, Kk Sandra Patriot and Shesa Knockoutcartel completed the field.
Additional reporting by Martha Claussen.
Post Time Favorite Dirtwater Dash Up Late To Win Louisiana Champions Day Quarter Horse Derby
New Orleans (December 11, 2020) – Post time favorite Dirtwater Dash, under jockey Everardo Rodriguez, got up late to defeat Ought To Go Tee by half-a-length in the $100,000 restricted Grade 2 Louisiana Champions Day Quarter Horse Derby Saturday afternoon at Fairgrounds Race Course.
Dirtwater Dash, a son of leading Louisiana sire Sir Runaway Dash, completed the 400 yards in :19.743 seconds, equaling a 107 speed index, into a 12 mph crosswind. It was the seventh career win in 14 starts for the 3-year-old.
“This horse is coming along and has done everything the right way,” assistant trainer Chris Valdez said following the win. “It’s all about the family with us; my dad and my brothers are home taking care of the horses every day and every night.”
It was big day at the Fair Grounds for the Valdez family who won the Louisiana Champions Day Quarter Horse Classic (RG2), Champions Day Quarter Horse Derby(RG3) and took third in the Champions Day Quarter Horse Juvenile(RG2).
Third in the Firecracker Derby(G3), two races back, and winner of the Delta 550 Stakes last May, Dirtwater Dash has earned $124,038. Michael Carlton bred Dirtwater Dash from the Dashin Bye mare Dashin Kate Perry.
Winner of last year’s Louisiana Champions Derby Juvenile(RG2), runner-up Ought To Go Tee earned $17,000 for second today. The son of multiple stakes sire Tee Cos vied early under jockey Rolando Cabrera.
Fernando Lopez trains the $164,472 earner for owner Jose Oviedo. Ronald Gale bred Ought To Go Tee from the Bigtime Favorite mare Vf Ought To Go Max.
Get It Done Babe, a daughter of leading sire Heza Fast Dash, finished a nose back for owner Fausto Mendoza to earn $10,000 for third. Trainer Josue Huitron named Leonardo Rodriguez to ride the brown filly out of Mi Babe by Mr Jess Perry. Gerard Hebert bred the earner of $53,330.
Completing the field were Jettin Cartel, Apollitical Chais, Tee Zo, Bayou Kue, Cason, One Fast Cajun and Tee Britt.
Additional reporting by Martha Claussen.
Winning Traditions Continue as Dam Sitting at The Bar’s and Sire Star Guitar’s Best Battle for First Time
New Orleans (December 9, 2021) – On a racing day dedicated to Louisiana-breds, one race best tells the story of the Magnolia state’s recent breeding success: The $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Ladies Sprint Stakes. Two impressive 3-year-old fillies face off: the lightly-raced Ova Charged, representing owner and breeder Brittlyn Stables and trainer Jose Camejo, and the relatively seasoned graded stakes winner, Cilla, owned by P Dale Ladner, bred by P Dale Ladner and Brett Brinkman, who also serves as her trainer. There’s more than just the purse on the line. This race is for bragging rights as the top Louisiana-bred in training and the connections of six other females hope to join ranks with their more accomplished counterparts.
With a post time of 2:56 p.m. CT, The Louisiana Champions Day Ladies Sprint Stakes is the 7th race on Saturday’s 13-race card at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots. Louisiana Champions Day includes 10 stakes races totaling $1,050,000. Race 1 post time is 12:05 p.m. CT.
“Kudos to the breeding establishment in the state because I think we’ve got a pretty good bunch of horses in our program right now,” Cilla’s trainer and breeder Brett Brinkman said.
Cilla and Ova Charged come into the race poised to run big and likely eclipse the photo finish light from reaching the rest of the field. The daughter of Louisiana legend Star Guitar, who won 24 of his 30 races, Ova Charged has the potential to be one of the very best her stallion has ever produced. That title is currently held by Minit to Stardom, who banked $536,180 for the same connections, winning the Ladies Sprint in 2019 along the way.
“She is gonna be the one,” trainer Jose Camejo said. “Everybody saw how she ran last time. We have had high hopes for her from day one. She’s been doing good. And hopefully in this race she can improve and show who she is. We’re ready for her.”
But is Cilla ready for her? Let the facts speak for themselves: sired by California Chrome and out of the broodmare Sittin at the Bar, she’s a perfect three for three at 6 furlongs on the dirt (1 for 1 at Fair Grounds), winner of the Prioress-G2 at Saratoga, the Louisiana Legends Mademoiselles Stakes in the slop at Evangeline Downs, and the Blue Sparkler Stakes at Monmouth. There’s no question she’s ready.
“I wouldn’t trade places with anybody,” Brett Brinkman said. “We love her [Cilla]. She has been really good to us. I know Camejo has a really nice filly on his hands–she ran a big race here earlier in the meet. But I like my filly and her accomplishments–she’s been rock steady for us since Champions Day at Evangeline. She is doing good. I feel great about her.”
In the Raven’s Run-G2 at Keeneland in October, Cilla got caught in the middle of a three-wide duel led by Strong Silent and followed by Miss Speedy. At 7 furlongs, a distance she has yet to prove herself over, she put away those quality foes and finished third, five lengths ahead of graded stakes winners Souper Sensational and Obligatory (who won the Chilukki at Churchill Downs next out). But the early exertion set up for closers Caramel Swirl and Joy’s Rocket to come flying late for the respective win and place.
“Tyler said when she broke, she broke right on the button and he caught himself a little further forward than he anticipated,” Brinkman said. “When she settled in, she wanted to be just right up there with them [Miss Speedy and Strong Silent] and ended up on the lead going into the turn. By the middle of the turn she ended up on the front end so instead of fighting and dragging her backwards, he went on with it. Take nothing away from the two fillies that outrun her–they are really nice fillies–but she ran for the wire, it’s not like she hung it up, those fillies came and got her.”
Ova Charged’s most recent start came against far lesser foes, but the optional-claiming second-level state-breds, allowed her to try something new in preparation for Saturday. Her 10+ length victory last out was guided by 68-year old jockey Rafael Torrealalba. She had wired her first two races, finishing a combined 16+ lengths ahead of Delta Downs maidens and Monmouth Park first-level allowance company in the slop. One of dam Charged Cotton’s five who have won 28% of 49 starts, this phenom filly could have wired the field, but instead the veteran jockey got her to relax, perching in 4th through the ¼ pole and on the move but still in 2nd at the ½.
“That was the plan,” Camejo said. “She was coming from a long layoff and we didn’t want her to be on the lead even though she was the best in the race. We wanted to teach her a little patience from behind and see if she could do that. I told the rider [Torrealba] ‘try and see if you can run from behind, let her break and see where she wants to be and at the 3/16s, then let her go and see how she will finish.’”
You wouldn’t guess it from watching their last races, but on Saturday, Cilla looks to relax and make a targeted run, while Ova Charged plans to be on or near the lead. Possible rain could alter course, and both trainers Camejo and Brinkman expressed confidence in their jockeys.
“The plan for Saturday,” Camejo continued, “I am going to leave that to the rider, I’ll be honest with you. She is going to be a little more sharp for this race, running closer to the lead now that she has the race under her belt.”
Jockey Reylu Gutierrez will guide Ova Charged from post 5. Fresh off the Pan Zareta masterpiece on Brooke Marie, Adam Beschizza will guide Cilla from post 3. Both are riding their horse for the first time.
“[Cilla’s] last work was by herself,” Brinkman said. “We had been working her with company, letting her sit off by herself and then go after them. This last breeze we just kinda let her ease away from the pole and power home from the lane. It opened my eyes a little bit–she was really fast in the lane, a lot faster than I thought she was going to be. As much as I want to win the race, I am really focusing on her relaxing. Giving her a target to run at. I’m gonna tell Adam what my filly’s preferences are and how she has exhibited her best racing and just let him ride his race from there.”
Though overmatched on paper, the remainder of the 8-horse field is filled with well-bred winners in more-than-capable hands. Breaking from the 1st post is stakes winner, Strong Beauty. Trained by Fair Grounds’ 2020-2021 leading trainer, Ron Faucheux, this daughter of Overanalyze and Headstrong Beauty has shown early speed and likely will need to send from the rail. Bred by Terry Gabriel & Dr. & Mrs. E C Hart, this 4-year-old to be ridden by Carlos Marquez needs to have found another level of speed in her 100+ day freshening.
The first of two 4M Ranch-breds, gray mare Snowball, looks to find more in her 10th start as a 5-year-old. Breaking from post 2 with hot jockey Colby Hernandez up, this Tin Roof Farms-owned earner of $323,280 will benefit from a duel out front that she can close into. Sired by Apriority and dam Inner Peace, Snowball is making her second start off a layoff for trainer Samuel Breaux, finishing 4th to quality statebred company last out.
Wire-to-wire maiden winner last out, Sum of the Parts sired Sumitup will break from post 4 with Jose Riquelme riding. Bred by J Adcock and trained by Delmar Caldwell, this filly owned by Double Dam Farm appears overmatched but is a lightly raced 3-year-old running 2nd time in her form cycle so could improve.
The Lonnie Briley-trained 7-year-old mare, Suzie’s Dream, has not shown the same speed she once had since Norman Stables claimed this Tiz the One for $7,500 three races back in June. She breaks from post 6 with Aubrie Green up. Suzie’s Dream is the second 4M Ranch-bred competitor.
Last-out wire-to-wire winner at a mile, Sarah’s Passion makes her third start in her form cycle. Drawing post 7, Allen Landry calls Joe Stokes to ride this Songandaprayer 4-year-old owned and bred by Perform Stables.
In the far outside post, Sienna Breeze makes her stakes debut with apprentice Brianne Culp aboard. Bred by Joey R Agular, owned and bred by Charles Rosier, this Custom for Carlos 4-year-old has won one time before at this distance and has shown alacrity from the gate in the past.
Watch Out Louisiana-Bred Ladies, You Might Get Caught in the Bear Trap
Louisiana Champions Day Turf Winner looks to add Distaff to her Stakes Success
Net a Bear can do it all: turf, dirt, sprint, route. But one of the things this versatile 5-year old mare hasn’t done is win at 1 1/16th miles on dirt. That’s the distance they’ll travel in the 31st running of the $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Ladies Distaff.
Entered for a $20,000 claiming tag in her third career start, Net a Bear is now a 6-time stakes winner with over $400,000 in the bank. Installed as Mike Diliberto’s 7-5 morning line favorite, Net a Bear rides three straight wins into this, beating her two main rivals in those contests. Bred by Lora Pitre & Elaine Carroll and sired by Awesome Bet, this 5-year old mare loves the grass as much as the dirt. Trainer Allen Landry calling upon regular rider Timothy Thornton, this team does not turn back a challenge–as long as it is in the state of Louisiana. And she is not alone in having made all her starts in “The Boot;”. Her main competition, Fort Polk and Quikfast N Ahurry, have always kept it close to home, too.
Quikfast N Ahurry is making the third start in her form cycle after finishing second in her last two outings at Delta Downs, including a half length loss to Net A Bear in the Magnolia. A positive angle for this Steve Flint 4-year old filly is that she won her last two starts 3rd off the layoff. Owned by Whispering Oaks Farm and bred by Carol J Casille out of sire Closing Argument and dam Wynning Ride. Colby Hernandez will break from the rail and is likely to save ground on the first turn.
Morning 6-shooter, Fort Polk looks to have sustained her spring form. There are more bullets on her PPs than holes in the OK Corral. Blinkers off woke up this horse and it has been apparent in the mornings. She’s won three of her last four, with her lone loss in that stretch coming at the hooves of Net a Bear. Patrick Mouton trained, Steve and Pat Roe owned, Fort Polk makes her first start after three months off. Prudently placed, Mouton now aims this Behindatthebar Spanish Cross Stable LLC bred for her first stakes victory. Jorge Guzman up, this 5-year old mare will break from the 2 and likely press potential early pacesetter, Winning Romance.
Another rounding second in her form cycle is her 3-year old Winning Romance. Her three wins have come out front but trainer Bret Calhoun has been stretching her out, last time going Saturday’s distance at Churchill Downs finishing 15+ lengths back after a slower than usual start. Deshawn Parker will look to return to her impressive 20-length win at Evangeline Downs on June 5th. Allied Racing Stable owned and bred will break from post 4.
The last of the five starters is the 3-year old filly, Eileen Alexandra. Running against the pace dynamic last out, this early speed presser struggled, but she has the tactical advantage to tighten up to the likely early speed to her inside. The second race since transfering from the Amoss barn to Ronnie Ward, this Bob Mahoney owned daughter of Jess’s Dream needs to show more to score against this small but mighty team of Louisiana breds.
Deja Vu Victory for Grand Lu, or Pound for Pound’s Mighty Return to the Top?
Former Champions Grand Luwegee and Pound for Pound will have plenty of company out front for the Classic
The best effort of 6-year old Grand Luwegee’s career came when he won this race last year at Fair Grounds, his lone start at 1 ⅛ miles on dirt. A muddy track last year may have contributed to his 52-1 shocker, and a Saturday forecast repeat that could be to his liking for the 30th start of his career as he has never finished out of the money out of 6 starts in the mud. Add to that jockey Colby Hernanadez is back up and we have the recipe for this Gerard Perron owned, bred, and trained horse to take the big stack and move less than $10,000 away from a cool half million.
But he’ll have company out front with the presence of Pound for Pound. No rider has been more assertive with her speedy mounts so far at Fair Grounds than Aubrie Green who rides the 2019 Classic champion, who missed the race last year. Owned by Israel Flores Horses, bred by J Addock & B & B Bloodstock, this early mover also knows how to fight off rivals late. Seven of his seventeen exacta finishes have come down to less than half a length. Trained by Andrea Ali, the 6-year old horse drew post 3 and could follow Grand Luwegee until ready to punch.
Likely to settle and make one run, Jimi’s A Star will have to go further than he has ever attempted before. With 3 wins out of 31 starts, this 5-year old Star Guitar gelding knows how to cash, finishing in the money 18 times. Jose Guzman grabs the reins out of post 2 for connections trainer Henry Johnson and owner/breeder James Boyd.
Mageez in the money line looks like the stat sheet for James HArden after a night against the Rockets: 64 starts 11 wins 14 places 12 shows. But none of those wins have come at Saturday’s distance. This 8-year old veteran sired by Musket Man relies on his late kick and often gets caught wide or finds trouble doing so. Facing lesser the last five races, trainer Delmar Caldwell and rider Mitchell Murrill surely smiled to see that even though the competition is stiff, there is a strong possibility of a pace meltdown playing into Mageez hoofs. Owned by Double Dam Farm and bred by James A Mcgehee Jr, a return to summer’s form would light up the tote board for this stalwart in post 4.
Unrestricted’s best races have been his last two. After a three-month freshening for trainer Kenneth Hargrave, this 5-year old out of Bind makes his first start at this distance while running in the best form of his career. Owned by Yovanni Rustrian Munoz and bred by Columbine Stable, Jose Riquelme will guide this quick consistent gelding from post 5.
With four wins out of seven starts, Who Took the Money often answers his own question. After an awkward start in the Churchill Downs slop last out and a slow start at Indiana Downs before that, this Bret Calhoun 3-year old looks to get back to breaking sharp and winning in the homestretch. Always a bit of a headcase, this Allied Racing Stable owned and bred gelding is 3 for 3 at Fair Grounds, and he will break from post 6.
Secret Vista faces his toughest yet while going longer than a mile for the first time. Angel Cordero keeps Carlos Marquez up to pilot this Paddy O’Prado 4-year old. Owned by Omar Ramirex and bred by J Adock & Hume Wornall, maybe stretching out will show another level for this 3 for 19 gelding breaking from post 7.
Sprint to route would be the path taken to glory if Allied Racing owned and Bret Calhoun trained second entrant Highland Creek can win the Classic. A dominant press and pass winner off a summer layoff last out over 6 ½ furlongs at Delta Downs, jockey Adam Beschizza might choose to send from the outside, post 8. J Adock & Neil McFadden bred gelded son of Broken Vow is cross-entered in the LA Champions Turf.
Five out of Ten Juveniles Likely Gunning From the Get-Go
Unified Report enters Juvenile sprint undefeated
Need for speed is the name of the game in the $100,000 Juvenile Sprint where five horses entered have proven to win out front. On a dirt course that has been favoring front runners, whether or not these 2-year olds can relax behind others and find rhythm late is the question they will have to answer.
Morning line favorite Unified Report (5-2) led most of the way in both of his previous victories, but those leads came after rating and passing–always a sign of talent and good things to come for horses early in their career. Dallas Stewart calls his go-to pilot Brian Hernandez Jr to ride this Stephen Brown bred colt, owned by Valene Farms. The recent winner of the Louisiana Legacy Stakes at Delta Downs will break form post 8 with two speed demons to his outside.
Immediately in post 9, Gotmy Mo Jo Workin earned an impressive speed figure breaking his maiden in gate to wire last out. The Mo Tom gelding won’t have it quite so easy this time. Far outside True Deal has done his best running on the lead and going shorter. Lonnie Brilley brings 2,576 lifetime winning jockey Timothy Thornton on board to see what kind of trip he can work out from the far outside post.
The meet’s leading trainer Jose Camejo sends out Tamborine Star (post 4, ML 4-1) after a live, front running score with the addition of blinkers last out. Irwin Rosendo strikes again aboard this Brittlyn Stable owned son of Star Guitar.
The mornings have belonged to 2nd-time starter maiden Bron and Brow (post 5, ML 5-1). Three bullet workouts concluded with best of 90 going 4 furlongs on December 4th. Blinkers are on for this Lakers fans hunch play that will likely not get many Pelicans backers.
Brett Brinkman’s Grunt won with the easy lead last and will likely have difficulty seeing the front end from the rail (ML 12-1). Patrick Mouton sends out last time winner My Heavy Son (Angel Suarez riding from post 2, ML 30 -1) who has stayed fresh since that Louisiana Downs maiden win against state breds. Steven Asmussen’s Charco (post 3, ML 9-1) has not shown much improvement in four starts and took advantage of the paceless gift he was given on the lead last time out at Delta Downs.
Route to sprint is the angle for Allen Landry’s Vodka Gimlet (ML 8-1), breaking from post 6 with Joe Stokes on board. And in post 7 Feisty Fist takes another shot at morning line favorite, Unified Report, after falling 3 ¾ lengths short after stalking the easy going leader last out.
Little Question that No Parole Will Break Loose in the
LA Champ Sprint, but How Long Will He Last?
Formidable Faucheux pair Monte Man and Berties’ Galaxy look to lock down the former G1 winner
A return to top form has been as difficult to find as favorable pace setups for the classy front-runner No Parole. The 2020 G1 Woody Stephens has won only once in six starts since, and in his losses, he hasn’t been close, leaving many to wonder if this shooting star has faded away. Tom Amoss calls the 4-year old colt’s original rider, James Graham, back to the saddle. Perhaps the “lucky charm,” who was aboard for No Parole’s first three races resulting in wins by 34 combined lengths for this Maggie Moss and Greg Tramontin owned enigma, can help make a difference.
Monte Man, an 8-year-old son of Custom for Carlos, has been a revelation since being claimed by trainer Gary Sciacca for $25,000 at Belmont Park in October 2017. Ivory Sisters Racing turned him over to trainer Ron Faucheux for his next start and he won a local optional-claimer in December 2017, which was the start of a seven-race winning streak. All told, Monte Man is 17-for-49, which includes eight stakes wins, though last year was his first win in the Louisiana Champions Day Sprint, after running third in the race in 2018 and fourth in the 2019 renewal. Always ready with a late move, the pace dynamic should set up nicely and Adam Beschizza gets the call for Ron Faucheux to try to repeat this winning tradition. Faucheux also sends out Bertie’s Galaxy, who finished a disappointing 5th as the favorite in the 2020 edition. Another speedster who doesn’t perform nearly as well when not allowed to dictate terms, this 5-year old gelding has won three out of this last 4, most recently at Delta Downs against conditioned allowance company.
Rounding out the field from the inside out starts with trainer Ricky Courville’s Father Goose (jockey Pedro Cotto Jr, ML 20-1) who has won three out of twelve starts but has yet to face anything as tough as these stakes superstars. Most recently winning against allowance company sprinting on turf, Allen Landry’s Hail State (jockey Joe Stokes, post 3, ML 10-1) would need a hail mary type miracle to score this caliber of win against these foes. A two-time stakes winner out of the Hugh Robertson barn, Sir Wellington (post 4, ML 8-1) is a 3-year old coming into his own. Making his second start after a tough duel against talented foes at Churchill Downs last out, this colt by Palace gets hot jockey Marcelino Pedroza Jr up. Woodbine shipper, Swot Analysis (post 6, jockey Deshawn Parker, ML 8-1) tried two turns on the turf last out, flashed speed and faded 7th against second level optional claimers. A one time G3 entered 3-year old by Anchor Down, this Mark Casse trainee seems to have used that as a prep for Champions Day and this horse could be a live long shot. Last out winner Pickens (jockey Jose Varga, post 7, ML 10-1) has posted competitive speed figures but against much lesser in the optional claiming ranks at Delta Downs. If the up and down form holds true for the every other start superstar/clunker runner Takes Two to Tango (post 8, Emmanuel Nieves, ML 8-1) then Saturday could be a high mark for this Jose Garcia trained 5-year old gelding who was eased in his most recent start. Scott Gelner sends out Izzy’s Baby Boy (jockey Aubrie Green, post 9, ML 20-1) who is 0 for 6 at this distance but had a nice recent win two back going 6 ½ furlongs.
Large Field for the Lassie Creates Interesting Puzzle of Possibility
Free Like A Girl is seasoned and hoping to assert dominance over her freshman filly foes
A full field of lightly raced 2-year olds creates the type of chaos that savvy bettors thrive on, but three logical horses will take the lion’s share of the market’s action: Free Like a Girl, Basalt Street, and Wholelottamo.
Eight races run and eight races in the money puts Free Like a Girl as the 9-5 morning line favorite in the 31st running of the Louisiana Champions Day Lassie. Her last three races were strong wins against state-bred stakes company. Second favorite Basalt Street will likely attract a lot of sharp money after her dominating eight length maiden win here on opening day. Louisiana Downs stakes winner Wholelottamo could redeem herself after tossing in a clunker last out behind Free Like A Girl as the well beaten 3-5 favorite in the Louisiana Jewel at Delta Downs.
Second time starters Valtesse (trained by Allen Landry, ridden by Colby Hernandez, post 1, ML 20-1), Dreaming of Neany (trained by Sam David Jr, ridden by MArcelino Pedroza Jr, post 3, ML 8-1), Beleout (trained by Delmar Caldwell, ridden by James Graham, post 4, ML 20-1), Won Day (trained by Allen Landry, ridden by Joe Stokes, post 10, ML 8-1), all ran impressively at first asking and appear to be in striking distance in terms of logical speed figure improvements second time out. Dreaming of Neany looks to have won in a key race that featured two next winners, including Basalt Street.
Filling out the field is Medley (trained by Steve Asmussen, ridden BJ Hernandez Jr., post 6, ML 8-1), Dream on It (trained by Emile Schwandt, ridden by Reylu Gutierrez, post 8, ML 6-1), Maestria (trained by Cathal Lynch, ridden by Adam Beschizza, post 9, ML 8-1), and Buckly Bunny (trained by Steve Flint, ridden by Kevin Smith, post 11, ML 20-1).
Recency Key to Turf Championship
Oldies but goodies try to remain prominent
Two horses on the rise look to offer peak performances in the 31st running of the Louisiana Champions Day Turf.
Making his second career start in the Turf, Carlea’s Dream (post 3, ML 3-1) seems sharper than ever, posting two of his fastest lifetime speed figures in recent starts. Three wins out of four tries at the race’s distance of 1 1/16 miles on turf, the gelded son of Lea trained by Karen Jacks should be involved early and often keeping close to his front-running fow, Mangelsen. SInce Ron Faucheux claimed this 5-year old gelding, he has done nothing but find his form and post faster speed figures. The Big Band Sound gelding loves the turf and loves to send it back into his foe’s faces. Mangelsen (ML 4-1) has one way to go and the rail draw keeps it simple for regular rider, Marcelino Pedroza Jr.
Programmed between the two likely favorites in post 2 Highland Creek. Sprint to route, dirt to turf would be the path taken to glory if Allied Racing owned and Bret Calhoun trainee can win the Turf. A dominant press and pass winner off a summer layoff last out over 6 ½ furlongs at Delta Downs, jockey Adam Beschizza might choose to send along with Mangelsen but likely will follow. J Adock & Neil McFadden bred gelded son of Broken Vow is cross-entered in the Louisiana Champions Classic.
With four wins out of seven starts, another contender is Who Took the Money, After an awkward start in the Churchill Downs slop last out and a slow start at Indiana Downs before that, this Bret Calhoun 3-year old looks to get back to breaking sharp and winning in the homestretch. Always a bit of a headcase, this Allied Racing Stable owned and bred gelding is 3 for 3 at Fair Grounds, and he will break from post 5. He too is cross-entered in the Classic. .
Rounding out the field is last out winner Jeb’s Lucky Eight (trained by Frank Pennino, ridden by James Graham, post 4, ML 20-1); the always fortunate Mr. Four Sevens (Courtney Dandridge Jr, ridden by Jose Riquelme, post 6, ML 20-1); Louisiana stalwart Trey’s Midnite Moon (trained by Bunky Richards, ridden by Aubrie Green, post 7, ML 15-1); Get Them Justin (trained Sturges Ducoing, ridden by Angel Suarez, post 8, ML 15 -1); I’m a Cowboy Too (trained by Gary Scherer, ridden by Mitchell Murrill, post 9, ML 15-1); the third from Bret Calhoun, late kicker Budro Talking (ridden by Emmanuel Nieves, post 10, ML 8-1); Britts a Closer (trained by David Gomez, ridden by Colby Hernandez, post 11, 6-1); and Jaci’s Royalty (trained by Cortland Harrison, ridden by Declan Carroll, post 12, ML 12-1).
Three Quarter Horse Stakes Kick Off Champions Day Card
Lightemupwithcharm targets third victory in the Quarter Horse Classic
Copy provided by Martha Claussen, who has served as publicity director at Sam Houston Race Park for ten years. She continues to be active in writing, fan education and Quarter Horse racing publicity in Louisiana, Texas, Indiana and other regions in North America.
The first feature on the Louisiana Champions Day card is the $100,000 Classic (RG2) and two-time defending champion Lightemupwithcharm (post 6 at 12-1) with Luciano Duenez), takes on eight rivals. Each of the three Quarter Horse stakes will be run at different distances; the opening feature will be contested at the “classic” test for Quarter Horses, as 440 yards; which measures a quarter of a mile.
Trained by Willie Simien, Jr., Lightemupwithcharm is proven at this distance, but the 7-year-old gelding will have tough competition from several 4-year-old stakes winners. Veteran conditioner Kenneth Roberts Sr. sends out Lifeinthefastlanes, a very accomplished mare, who exits a victory in the 400-yard Opelousas Stakes last month at Evangeline Downs. She repelled the late bid of Apollitical B Snow, who has won four of his six starts this year for trainer Rosendo Valdez, Jr. His father, Rosendo, has topped the owner standings at each Louisiana Downs, Delta Downs and Evangeline Downs this year.
How about the success of jockey Everardo Rodriguez, who has the call aboard Apollitical B Snow? He leads all North American Quarter Horse riders in wins in 2021 and will compete against his two younger brothers in the Classic. Jose will guide Jose O. Barron’s Maggies Runaway from the far outside post and Leonardo, the youngest of the trio, has the call aboard Hezjessmagic for owner Elizando Racing.
The Classic field from the rail out: Paul Rigdon’s Jrs Coronas Toast (12-1 with (Juan C. Garcia); Two entrants owned by Rosendo Valdez: Eyeondaprize (4-1 with Noe Castaneda); Apollitical B Snow (8-5 with Everardo Rodriguez); Paragon Farms LLC’s Lifeinthefastlanes (5-2 with David Alvarez); Preston Jourdan’s Tuckers Prize (10-1 with Ubaldo Luna); Saul Dorado’s Lightemupwithcharm (12-1 with Luciano Duenez); Elsa Mendoza’s Heza Bell Perry Jr (15-1 with Mario Trujillo); Elizando Racing’s Hezjessmagic (20-1 with Leonardo Rodriguez) and Jose O. Barron’s Maggies Runaway (20-1 with Jose Rodriguez).
Full Field Set for the Quarter Horse Juvenile
The $100,000 Juvenile (RG2), run at 350 yards, is always a highly competitive race for 2-year-olds. Ruse Ranch LLC ‘s Kk Sandra Patriot is the lone futurity winner in the 12-horse field. The daughter of Game Patriot broke her maiden when she captured the first official futurity of the year on March 6 at Louisiana Downs. Trained by Josue Huitron, Kk Sandra Patriot will break from the rail in the 350-yard event, in hopes of securing her second victory this year.
Several juveniles who competed in the $827,000 Lee Berwick Memorial Futurity (RG1) at Delta Downs on July 31, will make their Fair Grounds debut. They include Tdz Royal Runaway, who finished third for breeder/ owner Tony Doughtie. Trained by Kenneth Roberts, Sr., the son of Sir Runaway Dash exits a trial for the 400-yard LQHBA Louisiana Million and has earned $139,126 in seven starts. Railroad Jimmy, owned by GR Stables LLC, ran fourth at odds of 28-1. Roberto Madrigal trains the son of Freighttrain B. In addition, Jess Louisiana, a Jess Louisiana Blue gelding owned by Jose U. Oviedo, who finished seventh under Luciano Duenez. The Lee Berwick offers the second highest purse for Louisiana-bred 2-year-old Quarter Horses, next to next weekend’s LQHBA Louisiana Million at Evangeline Downs.
Others to watch include Amazing Blood who finished third in the $382,000 LQHBA Sale Futurity on October 30 at Evangeline Downs. Owned by Jose Alfonso Ramos, he is sired by Apollitical Blood and will make his eighth start for trainer Miguel Rodriguez. Soft on the Freight, a filly by Freighttrain B, finished seventh in that final for trainer Luis Martinez.
There are also late blooming juveniles making their stakes debut, most notably Return The Queen who brings a three-race win streak for owner Dale Rogers and trainer Trey Ellis.
The Louisiana Juvenile in post position order: Ruse Ranch LLC’s Kk Sandra Patriot (12-1 with Arturo Alvarez); Jose U. Oviedo’s Jess Louisiana (12-1 with Luciano Duenez); Tony Doughtie’s Tdz Royal Runaway (7-2 with David Alvarez); Dale Rogers’ Return The Queen (8-1 with Juan Garcia, Jr),; GR Stables LLC’s Railroad Jimmy (10-1 with Rolando Cabrera); BMAQ Racing LLC’s Sheza Knockoutcartel (12-1 with Bryan Candanosa); Miguel Hernandez’ Gamefaceprize (9-2 with Jose Rodriguez); Jesus Villarreal’s Soft On the Freight (12-1 with Guadalupe Lucio, Jr); Jose Alfonso Ramos’ Amazing Blood (12-1 with Leonardo Rodriguez); Penny Meyers’ Kp Prospect (8-1 with Ubaldo Luna); Jeronimo Silver’s Quid Pro Quo (8-1 with Bobby Ransom) and Rosendo Valdez’ Jess Sweet Enough (8-1 with Everardo Rodriguez).
Three Offspring of Quarter Horse Stallion Tee Cos Vie in the Quarter Horse Derby
The final Quarter Horse stakes on the card is the $100,000 Quarter Horse Derby (RG3) with ten 3-year-olds competing at 400 yards.
One year ago, Ought to Go Tee pulled a mild upset to win the $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Quarter Horse Juvenile Stakes (RG2). The gelded son of Tee Cos, who ran third in the 2011 All American Futurity (G1), scored a three-quarter length victory for trainer Fernando Lopez and owner Jose U. Oviedo. The bay gelding will make his sixth start of his 3-year-old season under rider Rolando Cabrera.
Another son of Tee Cos, Tee Britt will travel to Fair Grounds for trainer Cody McDaniel. She was a Quarter Horse jockey in Texas and Louisiana for 15 years and has been training since 2019. Tee Britt, owned by Ground Shakers Race Team LLP, is her most successful runner to date, with a runner-up finish in the Retama Park Derby on July 31 and earnings of $96,053.
The third Derby contender sired by Tee Cos is Tee Zo, a filly, owned by Joseph Landreneau, who will make her 15th career start for trainer Lanny Keith.
Rosendo Valdez, Jr. will saddle Dirtwater Dash, who ran third in the $197,000 Firecracker Derby last July at Delta Downs. The gelded son of Sir Runaway Dash has won six of his seven starts this year and will be ridden by Everardo Rodriguez from the far outside post.
Other entrants looking for their first stakes score of 2021 include Jettin Cartel, owned by Rogelio Marquez, Jr. and trained by Hector Alcala. Sired by Carters Cartel, he won back-to-back races at the claiming level at Delta Downs prior to a third-place finish in an allowance at Evangeline Downs on October 7. Pete Scarmardo’s Apollitical Chais exits an impressive 440-yard allowance score on October 22 at Evangeline Downs for trainer Kenneth Roberts, Sr. The son of Apollitical Blood was a $33,000 LQHBA Yearling Sale purchase and completed his 2-year-old campaign with a win the LQHBA Louisiana Million Invitational one year ago.
The field for the Louisiana Day QH Derby, from the rail: Rogelio Marquez, Jr.’s Jetttin Cartel (8-1 with David Alvarez); Reydesel Rangel’s Bayou Kue (12-1 with Guadalupe Lucio, Jr); Pete Scarmardo’s Apollitical Chais (6-1 with Ubaldo Luna); JP Quarter Horses’ Cason (6-1 with Noe Castaneda); Fausto G. Mendoza’s Get It Done Babe (20-1 with Leonardo Rodriguez); Joseph Landreneau’s Tee Zo (10-1 with Arturo Alvarez); Ground Shakers Race Team LLP’s Tee Britt (6-1 with Claudio Aguilar); Darrin and Norman Ladner’s One Fast Cajun (10-1 with Bryan Candanosa); Jose U. Oviedo’s Ought to Go Tee (9-2-with Rolando Cabrera) and Rosendo Valdez’ Dirt Water Dash (5-2 with Everardo Rodriguez).
Fair Grounds Racing
A TOTAL OF TEN SCHOLARSHIPS TO BE GIVEN ON LOUISIANA CHAMPIONS DAY!
In addition to the four $1,000 scholarships donated by Louisiana Thoroughbred Breeders Association and the two $1,000 scholarships donated by Fair Grounds, the Louisiana Quarter Horse Breeders Association has generously added drawings for four $1,000 scholarships to Louisiana Champions Day. Now college students attending Louisiana Champions Day on Saturday, December 11 will have ten opportunities to win a $1,000 scholarship.
Students must register before the first post and be present at the winners circle following the designated races to win.
See below for details:
Louisiana Champions Day to Run Saturday at The Fair Grounds Racecourse and Slots
on December 11, 2021
Six $1,000 College Scholarship Drawings Scheduled
(New Orleans, La.) – Louisiana Champions Day nominations close Saturday, November 27th. The Fair Grounds Racecourse and Slots is managing the 2021 Louisiana Champions Day nominations. All nominations and inquiries regarding Louisiana Champions Day races go directly to Fair Grounds. The phone number for the Racing Office is 504-948-1111.
“Champions Day is a big day for Louisiana bred racehorses with some of the most exciting finishes for the 2021 season,” said Heitzmann. “The purse money exceeds a million dollars and will have competitive fields. If you haven’t been to Champions Day, this year is a great year to get to the racetrack for the holidays.”
On Louisiana Champions Day will host drawings for six (6) $1,000 scholarships; four awarded by LTBA and two awarded by The Fair Grounds Racecourse and Slots. Students must be registered full time for the winter/spring semester to be eligible. Scholarship registration will be from 11:00 a.m. until noon at the designated table, with two drawings each after the fifth, sixth and seventh races. Scholarship hopefuls must be present at the Winners Circle at The Fair Grounds Racecourse and Slot to win.
The criteria for the six scholarships on December 11, Louisiana Champions Day are:
- Must be a college student enrolled full-time in an Accredited College, University or Community College for Winter/Spring 2022.
- Scholarships will be awarded by random draw.
- Must be in good standing with the college or university.
- Must be present to win at the Winner’s Circle when the announcement is made.
- Must have college ID and government-issued ID.
- Must have University ID number or Social Security number.
For Louisiana Champions Day:
- Registration: 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 noon at the designated booth
- Races begin: 12:00 noon
- Drawing Time: Two scholarships will be awarded after the fifth, sixth and seventh races. The scholarship will be deposited directly into the student’s account at the college or university. The student is asked to know the name and address of the college that they are attending.
“Our scholarship program helps fund several students pursue their degree programs in Community Colleges, Universities and other accredited higher education programs,” said Roger Heitzmann, secretary/treasurer LTBA. “We often hear from the award winners about how much this helped them continue their course of study. The students are pursuing all types of degree programs and it just our small part in encouraging them to complete their studies.”
The Fair Grounds currently has Covid restrictions in place. Covid rules in New Orleans change frequently, please check before coming to the track to see what restrictions are in place for the day. Currently race season will open with spectators who must show proof of vaccine or a negative test.
For more information about Louisiana Thoroughbred Breeders Association visit louisianabred.com or call (504) 947-4676.
2021-22 STAKES SCHEDULE worth $7.795 MILLION
AS TRACK CELEBRATES 150th ANNIVERSARY
NEW ORLEANS (Tuesday, September 28, 2021) – In what will be a historic, 150th anniversary racing season, Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots has announced that 59 stakes worth a combined $7.795 million, up more than $600,000 from last season, will be offered during the 80-day, 2021-22 Thoroughbred meet, which is set to begin Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, November 25.
“Fair Grounds Race Track is embedded in the history of New Orleans,” said Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots president Doug Shipley. “We have always been very proud to be part of such a great city and this year marks the 150th anniversary of our inaugural season. We are very excited to continue our growth and support of the Thoroughbred racing industry with our purse allocation and this year’s diverse and dynamic stakes schedule. Having not only the best fans, but also the best horsemen and jockeys from all around the world provides an unforgettable experience of high caliber racing at The Fair Grounds.”
The “Louisiana Derby Day” card on March 26 will feature eight stakes worth a total of $2.525 million, including the 109th running of the Grade II $1 million Twinspires.com Louisiana Derby for 3-year-olds. Run at 1 3/16ths miles for the second time last year, the Louisiana Derby, which is worth 100-40-20-10 points to the top four finishers, is the fourth and final local prep on the Road to the Grade I $3 million Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve to be run at Churchill Downs on Saturday, May 7. Last year’s race winner Hot Rod Charlie, runner-up Midnight Bourbon, and Mandaloun, who finished sixth as the favorite, have all factored prominently in subsequent stakes events. Mandaloun finished second in the Kentucky Derby and later won the Grade I Haskell (via DQ). Hot Rod Charlie finished third in the Kentucky Derby, second in the Grade I Belmont and he recently won the Grace I Pennsylvania Derby over Midnight Bourbon, who was also the runner-up in the Grade I Preakness and the Grade I Travers.
Run at 1 1/16 miles, the 54th running of the Grade II $400,000 Twinspires.com Fair Grounds Oaks for 3-year-old fillies offers 100-40-20-10 en route to the Grade I $1.25 million Longines Kentucky Oaks to be run at Churchill Downs on Friday, May 6. Last year’s winner Travel Column finished fifth in the Kentucky Oaks. Runner-up Clairiere, who recently won the Grade I Cotillion, was fourth in the Kentucky Oaks prior to consecutive placings in the Grade II Mother Goose (3rd), Grade I Coaching Club American Oaks (3rd) and Grade I Alabama (2nd). Third place finisher Souper Sensational has since won the Grade III Victory Ride and finished second in the Grade I Test and the Grade II Prioress. Obligatory followed up her fourth place run in the Fair Grounds Oaks with a win in the Grade II Eight Belles and a second in the Grade I Acorn and sixth place finisher Zaajel would later upset the Grade II Mother Goose.
“Fair Grounds has proven to be one of the premier winter racing destinations,” said Fair Grounds’ racing secretary Scott Jones. “Once again last year, the quality of horses who stabled or came through New Orleans have made a huge impact in premier stakes races all over the country. Adding the Gun Runner and the Untapable to our progressive schedule of 3-year-old races for both the boys and girls gives horsemen even more opportunity to develop their horses and compete for excellent purses.”
A pair of nine furlong, high-impact stakes for older horses are also scheduled on the Louisiana Derby Day program — the Grade II $500,000 New Orleans Classic (purse raised by $100,000) and the Grade II $300,000 Muniz Memorial Stakes, to be run over the Stall-Wilson Turf Course. In addition, four undercard stakes are slated for the lucrative card, including the $100,000 Tom Benson Memorial for older fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles on grass and a trio of Louisiana-bred events – the $75,000 Costa Rising Stakes, a 5½-furlong turf sprint, the $75,000 Crescent City Derby for 3-year-old males at 1 1/16 miles and the $75,000 Crescent City Oaks for females at 1 mile and 70 yards.
A pair of brand new 2-year-old stakes with Kentucky Derby and Oaks point implications (10-4-2-1) have been added to the Fair Grounds stakes schedule for the December 26 “Road to the Derby Kickoff Day” card. The $100,000 Gun Runner will be contested at 1 1/16ths miles and the $100,000 Untapable for fillies will be run over 1 mile 70 yards. Four supporting stakes, all for older horses, will also be offered – the $100,000 Tenacious Stakes ($25,000 purse increase) at 1 1/16ths miles, the $75,000 Buddy Diliberto Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on turf, the $75,000 Blushing K.D. for fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles on turf and the $75,000 Richie Scherer Memorial at 5 ½ furlongs on turf.
On January 22, the “Road to the Derby Day presented by Hotel Monteleone” features a pair of key 3-year-old events — the Grade III $200,000 Lecomte Stakes, which was extended from a mile to 1 1/16 miles last season, and the $150,000 Silverbulletday Stakes for fillies at 1 mile and 70 yards. The top four finishers in each race receive 10-4-2-1 points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby and Oaks respectively.
Four stakes for older horses will also be presented on the January 22 program, including the $150,000 Louisiana Stakes, which was elevated to Grade III status last year and received another $25,000 purse increase for this year’s renewal, at 1 1/16 miles, the $100,000 Colonel E.R. Bradley Stakes at 1 1/16 miles over the Stall-Wilson Turf Course, the $100,000 Duncan F. Kenner Stakes at 5 1/2 furlongs on the turf and the $100,000 Marie G. Krantz Memorial Stakes for fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles on grass.
On February 19, “Louisiana Derby Preview Day presented by Lamarque Ford-Lincoln” features a pair of key 3-year-old stakes — the Grade II $400,000 Risen Star Stakes presented by Lamarque Ford-Lincoln, which was extended from 1 1/16 to 1 1/8 miles two years ago, and the Grade II $300,000 Rachel Alexandra Stakes presented by Fasig-Tipton, for fillies to be contested over 1 1/16 miles. The top four finishers receive 50-20-10-5 points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby and Oaks respectively. The Rachel Alexandra has produced the last two of the last four Kentucky Oaks winners in Monomoy Girl and Serengeti Empress and 2014 victress Untapable also took down the Run for the Lilies.
Four stakes for older horses will also be presented on the February 19 program — the Grade III $250,000 Mineshaft Stakes at 1 1/16 miles ($50,000 purse increase), the Grade III $150,000 Fair Grounds Stakes at nine furlongs on turf, the $100,000 Colonel Power Stakes at 5½ furlongs on turf and the $100,000 Albert M. Stall Memorial Stakes for fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles on turf.
Louisiana Champions Day presented by Acadian Ambulance will be held on December 11. With the races run over various divisions and distances on both dirt and turf, the program features ten stakes restricted to Louisiana-breds. Each Louisiana Champions Day stakes is worth $100,000 with the exception of the Louisiana Champions Day Classic, which carries a $150,000 purse.
In addition to the Gun Runner and the Untapable, Fair Grounds has added four other new stakes to the schedule: the Joseph R. Peluso Memorial Stakes, named for the longtime racing official who passed away in January, for fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles on turf on November 25; the Bob Wright Memorial Stakes, named for the longtime chairman of the Louisiana Racing Commission, who passed away in March, for older horses at 1 1/16ths miles on turf on November 27; the Fred P. Aime Memorial Stakes, named for the New Orleans native and longtime jockey agent who passed away in December, for older fillies and mares at 5 ½ furlongs on turf on January 29; and the Page Cortez Stakes, named for the Louisiana senator, for older Louisiana-bred fillies and mares at 5 ½ furlongs on turf.
For the second consecutive year, the purse for the opening day Thanksgiving Classic for older male sprinters has been increased $25,000 to $150,000.
The 80-day, 2021-2022 Fair Grounds racing season runs through Sunday, March 27. Regular post time will be 1:05 p.m. CT, but there will be an earlier noon CT first post on Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 25), Louisiana Champions Day (Dec. 11), Road to the Derby Kickoff Day (Dec. 26), Road to the Derby Day (Jan. 22) Louisiana Derby Preview Day (Feb. 19) and Louisiana Derby Day (March 26).
Louisiana Champions Day Nomination Forms are now available online at the following link:
Please print and mail with payment to:
1751 Gentilly Blvd
New Orleans, LA 70119 USA
Make checks payable to FAIR GROUNDS