LOUISIANA LEGENDS NIGHT EXCITEMENT THRILLS FANS AT EVANGELINE DOWNS

CILLA BECOMES FIRST BLACK-TYPE WINNER FOR CALIFORNIA CHROME

 

OPELOUSAS, LA –Evangeline Downs hosted the annual celebration of the Louisiana-bred Thoroughbreds with Louisiana Legends Night on Saturday.  The exciting card featured six stakes races, each with a purse of $70,000 highlighted the card.

 

Persistent rains throughout the week forced all the races to be run on the main track.  The Soiree was contested over a muddy track, but a downpour after that race left the card sloppy for the remaining races.

 

Cilla wins Louisiana Legends Mademoiselle. Coady Photography

The $70,000 Mademoiselle featured what may have been the most impressive performance of the evening as Cilla powered away to victory.  The 3-year-old Brett Brinkman trainee scratched out of the one-mile Soiree to face older fillies and mares in the Mademoiselle.  That decision proved fruitful with the sensational turn of foot produced on the far turn.  Traveling in mid-pack as Strong Beauty and Southern Beauty battled through fractions of 21.64 and 45.05, jockey Joel Dominguez sent Cilla up to challenge with a four-wide move at the top of the lane.  While racing six wide, Cilla stormed away from her rivals to win by 4-1/4 lengths, stopping the timer in 1:03.74.   Evangeline Downs Distaff winner Snowball rallied up the rail to finish second and Strong Beauty held on well for third.

 

Campaigned by P. Dale Ladner, and was bred by the partnership of Brinkman and Ladner.  Sired by California Chrome, she is out of the Into Mischief mare Sittin at the Bar.  The Mademoiselle victory was the second impressive win over a sloppy track, along with a win at Delaware Park last August.

 

Cilla returned $19.60 as the winner, $6.20 to place and $4.20 to show.  Snowball paid $4.20 to place and $2.60 to show.  Strong Beauty paid $4.40 to show.  With the $42,000 winner’s prize, Cilla pushed her career earnings to $143,500.

 

Winning Romance. Coady Photography.

The $70,000 Soiree, for 3-year-old fillies, was contested by a field of just four runners over the one-mile distance.  Winning Romance, trained by W. Bret Calhoun, broke alertly and traveled comfortably in tandem with Half Koo Koo for the first half-mile.  Jockey Diego Saenz asked his runner for more on the far turn, and she quickly responded.  Winning Romance’s lead widened throughout the lane with the winning margin an incredible 20-3/4 lengths.  Inawic, who tracked the leaders down the backside, finished second and Tecate Time was along for third.  The final time was a hand-timed 1:38.75.

 

Winning Romance, sired by First Samurai, and out of the Flatter mare Lipstick Junky, returned $2.60 to win and $2.10 to place.  Inawic returned $4.00 to place.  There was no show wagering in the short field.  The Allied Racing Stables, LLC (Chester Thomas) runner pushed her career earnings to $135,441.

 

Chu Chu’s Legacy. Coady Photography.

The $70,000 Cheval was contested in a torrential rainstorm that arrived shortly before post-time.  Chu Chu’s Legacy was quickly away in the one-mile affair, and was never headed, scoring a front-running six-length victory.  The winner owned and trained by Allen Landry is a son of Bind, out of the Johannesburg mare Bond’s Babe.  Jockey Joe Stokes urged his runner along in splits of 23.59, 47.41 and 1:12.36, before stopping the timer in 1:39.18 for the eight furlongs.

 

Runner-up Wise Verdict made a move inside of rivals on the turn to get in position turning for home, while third-place finisher Beauregard was well placed throughout, but unable to threaten the leader.

 

The winner returned $10.60 to win, $6.40 to place and $4.80 to show.  Wise Verdict rewarded backers with $9.60 to place and $6.00 to show.  Longshot Beauregard paid $13.80 to show.  Chu Chu’s Legacy ran his total earnings to $176,350 with the triumph.

 

Bertie’s Galaxy. Coady Photography

The $70,000 Sprint, over a distance of 5-1/2 furlongs, was a family affair as half-siblings Bertie’s Galaxy and Wild Bert battled from the start and finished one-two.  Both runners are out of the Wild Rush dam, Wild Bertie, with the winner being the younger brother and sired by Greeley’s Galaxy.

 

Wild Bert sped through early fractions of 21.86 and 45.04, with Bertie’s Galaxy in close attendance to the outside of the leader.  Moving to challenge on the far turn, jockey Diego Saenz swept up with the Ron Faucheux runner to take the lead approaching the quarter pole.  The pair steadily drew away through the lane to win by 3-1/4 lengths in a time of 1:03.53.  Wild Bertie was well clear as the runner-up, with Laughingsaintssong another 3-1/2 lengths back in third.

Bertie’s Galaxy’s pushed his career earnings to $225,750.  Owned by Allen Cassedy and trained by Ron Faucheux, Bertie’s Galaxy was sent off as the second choice at 2-1 and paid $6.00 to win, $3.60 to place and $2.80 to show. Wild Bert returned $7.20 to place and $4.60 to show.  Laughingsaintssong returned $5.00 to show.

 

 

Offspring. Coady Photography.

The $70,000 Turf Distaff was the second straight stakes victory for Offspring.  The 5-year-old mare by Into Mischief, out of the Pioneering mare Pioneer Gal, had previously won a stakes at the Fair Grounds.  Away in good order under jockey Roberto Morales, Offspring was allowed to settle off the moderate fractions being set by Distractor Factor, traveling just off the leader through splits of 25.06 and 49.68.  Saber Cut was up to put pressure on Distractor Factor as Offspring moved alongside, while Quikfast N Ahurry ranged up four-wide past 6-furlongs in 1:14.55.  As they straightened away, Offspring surged between rivals to poke her head in front at the top of the lane and fought off her rivals for a 1-3/4 length victory in 1:39.57.  Quikfast N Ahurry battled on for second, 1-1/4 lengths in front of favored Net a Bear in third.

 

Owned by Oak Tree Stable (Bennett E. Powel) and trained by Edward J. Johnston, Offspring rewarded backers with a win price of $7.80, $4.80 to place and $2.60 to show.  Quikfast N Ahurry paid $5.60 to place and $3.20 to show, with Net a Bear at $2.40 to show.  The career bankroll increased to $219,478 with the winning share of the purse.

 

Maga Man. Coady Photography.

The $70,000 Turf was the final stakes race of the night and was won in wire-to-wire fashion by Maga Man.  A quick start from the inside post allowed Maga Man, with jockey Kevin Smith, to set reasonable fractions of 48.17 for a half-mile and 1:12.74 for the six-furlong split.  With Grand Luwegee in close attendance throughout, Maga Man repelled that challenge at the top of the lane and held sway in the final yards to hold off a late rally up the rail from Jax Man in a time of 1:38.36.  The rider of Jax Man, Casey Fusilier, lodged an objection and the stewards also posted the inquiry sign regarding the final yards of the one-mile race.  After reviewing the videotapes, the stewards found there was insufficient evidence to change the order of finish.

 

The 6-year-old son of Musket Man, and out of the Pulling Punches mare Lew’s Gray, runs for the Whispering Oaks Farm, LLC of Carrol Castille.  Trained by Steven B. Flint, the winner returned $11.80 to win, $5.20 to place and $3.20 to show.  Runner-up Jax Man paid $6.20 to place and $2.80 to show.  Grand Luwegee paid $3.20 to show.  With the victory, Maga Man increased his career bankroll to $233,960.

 

For more information on racing at Evangeline Downs, visit the track’s website atwww.evdracing.com and on Twitter @evdracing.  Racing continues on a Wednesday thru Saturday schedule until the end of the meet on September 18.

 

Evangeline Downs Racetrack Casino and Hotel, a property of Boyd Gaming Corporation (NYSE:BYD), features exciting casino action, live horse racing and fun dining experiences. Evangeline Downs is located in Opelousas, Louisiana, off I-49 on Cresswell Lane at Exit 18.

 

Faucheux, Graham, Godolphin Take Home Meet Titles as Fair Grounds Closes Out 149th Season of Racing

Purses Raised Three Times During Banner Meet

New Orleans (March 29, 2021) – Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots wrapped up the 149th season of racing on Sunday, March 28, and while times were a bit more trying because of the lingering COVID-19 pandemic, simulcast business was exceptionally strong due to the tremendous support from both horseman and bettors alike. The meet, which kicked off with the traditional Thanksgiving Day opener on November 26, included 76 racing days and it was highlighted, as always, by the 108th running of the $1 million TwinSpires.com Louisiana Derby (G2).

“It was a meet like no other but we are extremely proud of everyone who came together to put out a great product on a day-in, day-out basis,” Fair Grounds senior director of racing Jason Boulet said. “We are extremely grateful to the horseman and our fans and bettors for their continued support throughout the meet.”

The meet reached its zenith on March 20, when the Louisiana Derby highlighted a robust 14-race card that included eight stakes. Known as “the big three” for their accomplishments at the meet, Lecomte (G3) winner Midnight Bourbon, Risen Star (G2) victor Mandaloun, and Proxy, who was the runner-up in both of those races, would meet again in the Louisiana Derby, but it was Roadrunner Racing, Boat Racing, and William Strauss’ California invader Hot Rod Charlie who would post the gate to wire victory for trainer of record Leandro Mora (Doug O’Neill). The Oxbow colt earned 100 qualifying points for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve in the process.

The co-featured TwinSires.com Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) once again played out to be a key prep for the Longines Kentucky Oaks (G1). Carded one race prior to the Louisiana Derby, the Fair Grounds Oaks was billed as the battle between budding rivals in OXO Equine’s Travel Column, trained by Brad Cox, and Stonestreet Stables’ homebred Clairiere, trained by Steve Asmussen. The pair had split their previous two encounters, with Travel Column taking the Golden Rod (G2) at Churchill and Clairiere turning the tables in locally run Rachel Alexandra (G2) in February. Travel Column got the jump on Clairiere to win the Fair Grounds Oaks, and the duo once again ran one-two in what was a sure precursor to the Kentucky Oaks.

In a race that brought that much more of a national scope to one of the biggest days of the year in New Orleans, Robert and Lawana Low’s Colonel Liam, arguably the best turf course in the country off his win in the Pegasus World Cup Turf (G1), invaded to take the Muniz Memorial Classic (G2) for trainer Todd Pletcher.

The Louisiana Derby Day card also marked the return of a small number of fans to Fair Grounds for the first time in over a year as the effects of COVID-19 forced the track to conduct live racing with no patrons, as only essential employees, licensed horsemen (including owners) and credentialed media were allowed on track. A select group of tickets were sold to the general public and marked a welcome, albeit brief, return of the fans who have long supported local racing and made Fair Grounds one of the best racing venues in the country.

Trainer Ron Faucheux won his coveted first ever trainer’s title with 40 wins, while dethroning four-time defending champion and Eclipse Award winner Brad Cox (37 wins) in the process. Both 11-time local titlist Tom Amoss (35), as well as Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen (33), made runs at Faucheux, with the former holding the lead for much of the meet, while Joe Sharp completed the top-5 with 23 wins. Faucheux scored a stakes win with Monte Man in the Louisiana Champions Day Sprint in December and in the end the New Orleans native was too strong from start-to-finish to secure a title that clearly hit close to home.

“It means the world,” Faucheux said. “Being here, being from New Orleans and coming to this track since I was a child. This is what it’s all about. We have so many people that put their faith in us. I have some great owners. I have the best help. This is my track; this is the best track in the country, as far as I’m concerned, and it’s a privilege and an honor to be a part of it.”

Cox, who was in contention for a five-peat until the penultimate day of racing, left with plenty of hardware of his own. He won the Oaks with Travel Column and the Risen Star (G2) Presented by Lamarque Ford-Lincoln with Mandaloun, along with three other stakes. Asmussen had a strong meet as well, winning six stakes. Clairiere’s win in the Rachel Alexandra was the barn highlight, though Midnight Bourbon flashed his Kentucky Derby form when he won the Lecomte (G3) in January to kick off the local 3-year-old stakes series. Asmussen also posted his remarkable 100thcareer Fair Grounds stakes when Joy’s Rocket captured the Letellier Memorial on December 19.

James Graham not only repeated to win the jockey’s title for the third time, but he obliterated his total of 63 wins last year, posting a seismic 88 on the board to hold off Adam Beschizza (85), with Mitchell Murrill (73) nabbing a podium finish as well. Colby Hernandez (69) bested his brother Brian (56) to round out the top-5.

“It means everything,” Graham said. “We kept digging away and plowing through and doing what we had to do. My stock ran really good this year and everything ran accordingly. It’s been a fantastic meet. You can’t race anywhere better in the wintertime; Fair Grounds is the best. I’m over the moon and ecstatic.”

Beschizza, buoyed by eight stakes wins, led all jockeys in purses earned with $3,115,764, edging Graham, who checked in with $2,996,153. Brian Hernandez Jr. and Florent Geroux also enjoyed strong meets with seven stakes wins apiece.

The owners’ race went down to the wire as well, with Godolphin edging Chester Thomas’ Allied Racing Stable 13-12, with End Zone Athletics checking in third with 11. Maggi Moss (9) was fourth, with Evelyn Benoit’s Brittlyn Stable, Wayne T. Davis (8), Whispering Oaks Farm, and Winalot Racing rounding out the top-5 with eight wins apiece.

Godolphin led in purses won with $767,440, with the heavy lifting coming from Maxfield, who scored stakes wins in the Tenacious in December and Louisiana (G3) in January for trainer Brendan Walsh. In addition, their Proxy was second in the in the Lecomte and Risen Star, and fourth in the Derby, for trainer Mike Stidham.

Twelve horses won at least three races at the meet, with All Fact and Treys Midnight Moon leading the way with four each. Big Time, Dalika (Ger), Elle Z, Logical Myth, Maxfield all won two stakes at the meet.

On Saturday, February 27, Fair Grounds hosted “New Vocations Day at the Races”. Hosted on the simulcast show by retired jockey Rosie Napravnik, a four-time local champion, and Fair Grounds personality Joe Kristufek, the event was created in order to raise the awareness of all aspects of racehorse aftercare. In addition to on-line donations, several jockeys, trainers and owners contributed a percentage of that day’s earnings, and over $8,000 was raised to help support the Louisiana division of New Vocations.

Both Handle and betting support were strong from Opening Day to Closing Day, no doubt helped by the elimination of the Black Gold 5, a jackpot Pk5 bet which was replaced by a traditional early and late Pk5, which were welcomed by handicappers. As a result, from the strong simulcast handle, management was able to raise purses 10% across the board three separate times at the meet, which only strengthened an already sterling local product. And while the often-unpredictable local weather made turf racing a challenge, racing secretary Scott Jones was more than happy with the end result, while eagerly looking ahead to a milestone 150th season next November.

“We would like to thank all the horsemen for their continued support which makes Fair Grounds one of the premier winter destinations and I’m looking forward to our 150th season,” Jones said. “Considering it was one of the wettest winters in New Orleans and all the other challenges, handle was very strong and we were able to raise purses three times at the meet.”

FAUCHEUX IS HAPPY TO CONTINUE TO BUILD HIS LOUISIANA EMPIRE

Faucheux battling with Brad Cox for the Fair Grounds training title

 

New Orleans (March 4, 2020) – Ron Faucheux, a 37-year-old Louisiana native with over 500 career training wins to his name, has made a name for himself in his home state of Louisiana with the ability to train both graded stakes caliber horses and also play the Louisiana bred claiming game to perfection.

 

Now over 10 years into his training career, Faucheux has 513 wins from 2,076 starts (as of March 4, 2020) and career purse earnings of over $11.9 million.

 

I had the chance to sit down with Faucheux Friday morning and get to know more about the early stages of his career, as well as where he’s aiming to be.

 

 

How did you get involved in racing? Was it something you have always been around?

 

“I wasn’t raised around horses from an early age,” Faucheux said Friday morning near the Fair Grounds paddock. “I was about 11 or 12-years-old and I went with my step-dad Louie Roussel to the track for the first time and just the surroundings and the people involved is what got me hooked. Right away I knew I wanted to do something with racehorses.”

 

“I started to go work over the summer for Billy Badgett in Saratoga and Belmont when I was about 16-years-old,” Faucheux continued. “Around high-school I knew that I wanted to be a trainer and that was the path I was going to take. I transferred high schools my sophomore year and wasn’t eligible to play sports until my senior year and by that time all I wanted to do was be around the racetrack.

 

What were the early days of your career like? When did you go out on your own and start to build your stable?

 

“In 2009 is when I went out on my own,” Faucheux said. “I started off with two horses. We won three races with the two horses. One of them I thought we had no shot with; he had run like seventh the past two starts and I thought we just didn’t have a chance. I was entering in a state-bred non-winners of three lifetime race and the race didn’t go. The racing office convinced me to run the horse in an open company $5,000 claimer and my horse (Built to Precision) won by like three of four lengths. I don’t remember what it paid but it was a nice price and that was my first career win.”

 

“After that I was able to get Frank Calabrese to send me some money to start claiming,” Faucheux continued. “I claimed three horses in Louisiana and Frank invited me to go to Chicago so I went up there and that’s where I really started my stable. We had anywhere between 10 and 15 horses that meet at Arlington. After the Chicago meet we went down to Florida and were running at Calder and the start of Gulfstream Park.

 

After your time in Chicago and Florida, did you ever have any thoughts to come back to Louisiana and train?

 

“I always wanted to get back to New Orleans,” Faucheux said. “I convinced Frank Calabrese to let me bring about four horses down and we started our first horse at Evangeline Downs. The horse was like 3-5, completely missed the break and got beat so Frank calls me and tells me he wants the horses out of there and back to him. I knew if I lost those horses I would be in trouble so I talked Frank into letting me keep the horses to try to sell them to some owners down here that were looking to run in Louisiana so he wouldn’t have to pay for them to be shipped around the country. I was able to sell three of the horses and I ended up buying one of them for $15,000 for myself. Her name was Paper Shredder and she did well for me winning some races, she helped pay for some of the tack and just helped me get my barn started.”

 

Gantry was your first graded stakes winner, what was that experience like and how did you get the opportunity to train a horse like that at the beginning of your career?

 

“Over the summer of 2010 I started training for Evelyn Benoit at Evangeline Downs,” Faucheux said. “Thanksgiving Day at Fair Grounds is obviously a big day and she kept mentioning that she had never won a race on that day. I was looking at my condition book and saw a $17,500 claimer on the turf and thought we could claim one and be aggressive in that spot, but she got back to me and said she was eyeing the Thanksgiving Handicap. I only had some nickel claimers in my barn and I’m thinking wow, okay let’s do it. We went look at Gantry and got him in October from Belmont. He was 8-1 on the morning line in the Thanksgiving and I had some doubts but he of course ended up winning that race and sweeping the sprint series at Fair Grounds that year. He gave me my first career graded stakes win in the Smile Sprint Handicap (G2) at Calder and we got to run in Breeders’ Cup so it was a fun journey with him.”

 

Guys like Brad Cox, Steve Asmussen, Al Stall Jr., etc.. come to Fair Grounds every winter, and you always find a way to stamp yourself near the top of the leaderboard. You’re sitting just behind Brad Cox on the leaderboard right now, what’s it like getting to compete against these guys and more than hold your own?

 

“It’s special to be able to hold my own against these trainers that come here for the winter,” Faucheux said. “The goal and the dream for most trainers is to win a Kentucky Derby, but for me my dream was always that I wanted to win and be competitive at the Fair Grounds. If those big horses and a Derby or races like that happen its great and I would love it, but I like being in Louisiana and training here and winning races at the Fair Grounds.”

 

“We treat each horse as an individual and try to spot them where they are competitive,” Faucheux continued. Obviously if it were to happen and I was leading trainer for the meet that would be a dream come true but at the same time we’re just trying to spot our horses in the right places here and take our time with them.”

 

 

 

You have obviously made a name for yourself in the claiming game, what goes into claiming a horse and what do you credit your claiming success too?

 

“There is defiantly a skill to claiming horses,” Faucheux said. “I was never around much either early on. Working for Todd Pletcher in my early days that’s obviously not what he does. When I started out on my own I figured out how important claiming was when you’re trying to build a stable. Working for Frank Calabrese that’s really all you do so I was able to sharpen my skills with him. I realized as I started doing it more that I had a pretty good idea of how to play the claiming game and sort of found my niche. It’s all about fitting conditions.”

 

 

10 years from now, where do you hope to be in your training career?

 

“I have two kids and we live here in Louisiana,” Faucheux said. “I take pride in being here with them and getting to be around them. I know a lot of trainers don’t get to be with their kids as much with all the travelling. Being able to train nice horses and be here with my kids in Louisiana is big for me. If we eventually branch out and go around the country I wouldn’t completely be against it, but I’d like to stay here continue building what I have. To be honest, I like being the trainer that stays here year around and can still compete with these bigger names when they come down here over the winter.”