Turf star English Channel and Triple Crown candidate Circular Quay, each a divisional Eclipse Award finalist last month, are expected to participate in Fair Grounds’ five-stakes program Feb. 10.
English Channel, owned by James Scatuorchio, is expected to arrive in New Orleans shortly for his seasonal bow in the $200,000 Fair Grounds Breeders’ Cup Handicap (gr. IIIT) at about 1 1/8 miles over the Stall-Wilson turf course.
Last year, the son of Smart Strike won three grade I races – the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic in May, the United Nations at Monmouth in July, and the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational at Belmont Park in October.
Circular Quay, owned by Michael and Doreen Tabor, is also expected to make his 2007 debut next weekend at Fair Grounds in Saturday’s $300,000 Risen Star Stakes (gr. III), the final major local prep for the Louisiana Derby (gr. II) on March 10.
The son of 1995 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner Thunder Gulch, who also raced in the Tabor silks, won the Hopeful (gr. I) last August at Saratoga as the odds-on choice. He also captured the Bashford Manor (gr. III) one month earlier at Churchill Downs. The Risen Star would be Circular Quay's first start since finishing second in the Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I).
Champion jockey John Velazquez, Eclipse Award-winning rider two of the last three years, will make his first trip to Fair Grounds this season to ride both English Channel and Circular Quay, and is also slated for the mount on Aaron and Marie Jones’ Master Command in the $200,000 Mineshaft Handicap (gr. III) that same afternoon.
In addition to Circular Quay, candidates for the Risen Star Stakes include Paul Reddam’s Notional, who captured Santa Anita’s San Rafael Stakes (gr. II) in his last trip to the post on Jan. 13.
Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC’s Zanjero, runner-up in Aqueduct’s Remsen (gr. II) Nov. 25, is also probable for the Risen Star. Sugar Bowl Stakes winner Teuflesberg, another veteran of last fall’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, has also recently been added to the list of Risen Star probables.
Others likely for the Risen Star include Starbase, Scat Thief, Imawildandcrazyguy, Makeithapencaptain, Izzie’s Halo, Slew’s Tizzy and Spankey Come Home.