Lawrence Goichman’s J’ray, a close second in each of her last three starts, all in grade III competition, gets another chance when she heads a field of 12 fillies and mares named to Saturday’s $150,000 Bayou Breeders’ Cup Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Fair Grounds Race Course.
The grass fixture will be contested at about nine furlongs over the Stall-Wilson turf course.
In her most recent trip to the post in Gulfstream’s 1 1/8-mile Suwannee River Handicap (gr. IIIT) Feb. 4, the 4-year-old filly rallied wide to miss by a neck. Before that, she closed fast to miss by a head in Calder’s Frances A. Genter (gr. IIIT) Dec. 30.
Conditioned by Todd Pletcher, Eclipse Award-winning trainer the last three years, J’ray has six-time Fair Grounds riding champion Robby Albarado named to ride and has been installed as the 5-2 morning line choice. She shares the top impost of 119 pounds.
Also assigned that weight Saturday is Casa Farms I LLC’s Baghdaria, away from competition since running seventh in last fall’s Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Distaff (gr. I) over Churchill’s main track Nov. 4. However, Baghdaria is a daughter of 1990 Breeders’ Cup Mile (gr. IT) winner Royal Academy and won her lone grass start in December 2005 at Louisiana Downs.
As a 3-year-old last year, she was an upset winner of the Silverbulletday Stakes (gr. III) in January during the abbreviated Fair Grounds' Louisiana Downs meeting. Baghdaria also captured Hoosier Park’s Indiana Breeders’ Cup Oaks last Oct. 6.
Jockey Rafael Bejarano is slated to come in from Gulfstream for the mount on Baghdaria. Conditioner Tom Amoss, who is seeking his ninth training title at the New Orleans oval, saddles Baghdaria, 7-2 on the morning line.
Capable of providing strong competition for the top two is the French-bred mare Royal Copenhagen, who won her lone start at Fair Grounds in her last trip to the post Jan. 14 while coming from far back and racing widest of all in a 1 1/16-mile turf test. She is 5-1 on the morning line.
As a sophomore, the Richard Duchossois color bearer captured Arlington’s Pucker Up Stakes (gr. IIIT) in September of 2005 and was competitive in Arlington’s Beverly D. (gr. IT) during the summer of 2006. Jesus Castanon is slated to ride.
$150,000 Bayou Breeders’ Cup Handicap (gr. IIIT, Race 9, 4:39 p.m.)
Fillies & Mares 4 & Up, About 1 1/8 Miles (Turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, ML Odds
1. Elsie Lucille (VA), Lonnie Meche, 113, 25/1
2. My Three Sisters (KY), Ramsey Zimmerman, 115, 20/1
3. Candy Ball (KY), Corey J. Lanerie, 114, 20/1
4. Fiery Dancer (KY), Larry Melancon, 115, 25/1
5. Elle Runaway (KY), Emma-Jayne Wilson, 115, 15/1
6. Aly's Vow (KY), Joseph Talamo, 113, 30/1
7. Christmas Lily (KY), Jesse M. Campbell, 115, 10/1
8. Scarlet Butterfly (ON), James Graham, 112, 12/1
9. J'ray (NY), Robby Albarado, 119, 5/2
10. Baghdaria (KY), Rafael Bejarano, 119, 7/2
11. Royal Copenhagen (FR), Jesus L. Castanon, 115, 5/1
12. Cat Alert (FL), Donnie J. Meche, 115, 10/1