Fair Grounds Announces Stakes Schedule

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.

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Louisiana Breds Mr. Al’s Gal, True Emperor, Eden’s Grey Kitten Victorious on Louisiana Derby Undercard Stakes


Crescent City Oaks
Fair Grounds, 4-1-17, 1 Mile and 70 Yds (dirt)
Three Year Olds, Purse $75,000

Mr. Al's Gal_4-1-2017_UR

Mr. Al’s Gal
Salute The Sarge-Spanish Ice, by Spanish Steps
Owner: Brittleyn Stalbe, Inc.
Breeder: J. Adocok & Neal McFadden
Trainer: Justin Jeansonne
Jockey: E. Eramia

Rose Guitar
Star Guitar-Rose Hunter, by Jade Hunter
Owner: Royce G. Roberts
Breeder: Oak Leaf Farm TCLP
Trainer: Jose R. Mendez
Jockey: Diego Saenz

Wilburn–Midnight Delight, by Sea Hero
Owner: West Point Thoroughbreds
Breeder: Allen Guillotte Jr.
Trainer: Dallas Stewart
Jockey: Florent Geroux

Brittlyn Stable’s Mr. Al’s Gal captured her fourth consecutive stakes race with a half-length win in the $75,000 Crescent City Oaks for Louisiana-bred 3-year-olds. Ridden again by Richard Eramia for trainer Ron Faucheux, the daughter of Salute the Sarge assumed command out of the gate and clocked splits of 23.57, 46.50 and 1:11.57 before repelling a late challenge from Royce G. Roberts’ Rose Guitar to complete the one mile and 70 yards trip on the main track in 1:43.06. Rose Guitar, under Diego Saenz for trainer Jose Mendez, was three-quarters of a length to the good of West Point Thoroughbreds’ Dallas-Stewart-trained Moonlightnmidnight, who rallied for third under Florent Geroux.

“She broke really sharp,” Eramia said. “We went a little quick, but she did it by herself. I was waiting, and I was a little worried down the stretch. She backed up a little bit the last sixteenth but we still had the best horse.”

Mr. Al’s Gal earned $45,000 for the win and has now earned $250,280 in a six-race career that has included only one loss. She returned $2.80, $2.40 and $2.10 as the odds-on favorite, with Rose Guitar returning $6 and $4.40 and Moonlightnmidnight paying $4.40.

What’s the Point, Bermuda Star, My Gal Layla, Sashimi Blaster, Madame Begue, E Z’s All Attitude and Naughty Little Nun completed the order of finish. D’wild Muffin was scratched earlier in the day, and Our Millie was scratched just prior to the start.


Crescent City Derby
Fair Grounds, 4-1-17, 8.5 Furlongs
Three Year Olds, Purse $75,000

True Emperor_4-1-2017_HO

True Emperor
Yes It’s True–Queen Ofthe Empire, by Empire Maker
Owner: Casey, Dan and Elite Thoroughbred Racing LLC,
Breeder: Rebecca Farm LLC & T. J. Dickey (LA
Trainer: Lee Thomas
Jockey: Jose Riquelme

Birdstone–Charming Colleen, by Charismatic
Owner: Mallory Greiner,
Breeder: James McIngval
Trainer: Chris Richard
Jockey: Brian Joseph Hernandez, Jr.

Jack Snipe’s
Half Ours–Rhodelia, by Silver Deputy
Owners: Jeff Drown and Gary M. Scherer
Breeder: Clear Creek Stud Llc
Trainer: Gary M. Schere
Jockey: David Romero Flores

Two races later, the Louisiana-bred 3-year-old boys had their shot in the $75,000 Crescent City Derby at 1 1/16 miles on the main track. Dan Casey and Elite Thoroughbred Racing’s True Emperor took control out of the gate under Jose Riquelme and was never seriously challenged through splits of 24.16, 48.32 and 1:13.16 before coming home a 2ó-length longshot winner in a final time of 1:44.72.

Trained by Lee Thomas, the son of Yes It’s True easily held Mallory Greiner’s Chris Richard-trained favorite Underpressure, who was ridden by Brian Hernandez, Jr. and finished a head in front of Jeff Drown and owner-trainer Gary Scherer’s Jack Snipe’s in third under David Flores.

True Emperor won for the second time in three career starts and earned $45,000 to boost his career bankroll to $74,330. He returned $60, $20 and $11.60, with Underpressure paying $4.80 and $3.20 and Jack Snipe’s returning $3.60.

Paddy O’Lionel, Tip Tap Tapizar, Set Hut, Imindycatbirdseat, Magic Vow, Rollwithit, Evan Lee G, Big Maurice, Ida’s Warrior and Amp’d Up completed the order of finish.


Costa Rising Stakes
Fair Grounds, 4-1-17, abt. 5.5 Furlongs (turf)
Four Year Olds and Upwards, Purse $60,000

Eden's Grey Kitten_4-1-2017_UR

Eden Grey’s Kitten
Kitten’s Joy–Steaming Home, by Salt Lake
Owner: Whispering Oaks Farm LLC
Breeder: Danny M. Brown & Donna B. Brown
Trainer: Steven B. Flint,
Jockey: Florent Geroux

Icy Gentleman
Yankee Gentleman–Icy Day, by Five Star Day
Owner: Ironwater Farms Joint Venture
Breeder: Ironwater Farms Joint Venture
Trainer: Henry B. Johnson, Jr.
Jockey: Jorge Guzman

Jockamo’s Song
Half Ours–Miss Clairnette, by Trophy Hunter
Owner: Dare to Dream Stable LLC
Breeder: Debbie Allen & David Allen
Trainer: Michael Stidham
Jockey: Mitchell Murrill

The final of eight stakes races on the 15-race card was won by Whispering Oaks Farm’s Eden Grey’s Kitten, who turned the tables on Dare to Dream Stable’s favored Jockamo’s Song when posting a halflength score in the $60,000 Costa Rising Stakes for Louisiana-breds at 5ó furlongs on the turf. Florent Geroux guided the winner from a perfect, pressing spot for trainer Steve Flint through splits of 22.19 and 45.15 before edging clear late to complete the trip in 1:03.13. Ironwater Farms Joint Venture’s Henry Johnson, Jr.-trained Icy Gentleman tracked the early splits under Jorge Guzman and was able to nose out the Mike Stidham-trained Jockamo’s Song for second, with the latter ridden by Mitchell Murrill.

The win was Eden Grey’s Kitten’s seventh from 21 career starts and earned him $36,000 to increase his career bankroll to $228,260. The son of Kitten’s Joy returned $9.60, $5.40 and $3.20, with Icy Gentleman paying $8.40 and $5.60 and Jockamo’s Song returning $2.80.

Hail to the Nile, Brilliant Interest, Rock N Sake, Nubin Ridge, Just Kissing Buck, My Friend Flavin,Jazzy Rebel and Hunker Down completed the runner order.

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Gun Runner Dominant in Louisiana Derby


Gun Runner Dominant in Louisiana Derby
Photo: Amanda Hodges Weir/Hodges Photography

Gun Runner leaves the rest behind in the Louisiana Derby.

Winchell Thoroughbreds and Three Chimneys Farm’s Gun Runner, who captured the grade II Risen Star Stakes in his last start, was a commanding winner of the $1 million TwinSpires.com Louisiana Derby (gr. II) March 26 at Fair Grounds Race Course & SlotsWatch Video

Ridden by Florent Geroux, Gun Runner, who paid $9.80 to win as the third choice in a field of 10, is headed to the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I).

“He’s a very quality horse,” trainer Steve Asmussen said. “We’re very excited about the race he ran today and looking forward to his next race.”

Candy My Boy, fourth in the Feb. 20 Risen Star, took the early lead and maintained control through fractions of :23.54 for the opening quarter-mile, :48.24 for a half-mile, and 1:12.94 for six furlongs withDazzling Gem and Gun Runner in close pursuit. The latter took over past one mile in 1:38.12 and wasn’t threatened to the finish.

The final time for the 1 1/8 miles was 1:51.06 on a fast track. Tom’s Ready, seventh in the Risen Star, rallied for second, while Dazzling Gem held for third. Favored Mo Tom, a troubled third in the Risen Star, had an opening along the rail but was stopped again and finished fourth after a rally from far back.

A 3-year-old colt by Candy Ride  , out of the Giant’s Causeway  mare Quiet Giant, Gun Runner was bred in Kentucky by Besilu Stables. He has now won four of five starts; his lone defeat came last November in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (gr. II), in which he finished fourth behind AiroforceMor Spirit, and Mo Tom.

The Louisiana Derby winner earned 100 points in the Road to the Kentucky Derby standings.

Read More at Bloodhorse.com



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