With some important Triple Crown prep races on tap for the weekend of March 8, many trainers are looking for victories that could bring them closer to stamping their contenders' tickets for the first Saturday in May.
Dan Hendricks saddled Daytona to four consecutive stakes victories in the past five months, his most recent being the Feb. 9 Fair Grounds Handicap (gr. IIIT). In the March 8 Mervyn Muniz Jr. Memorial Handicap (gr. IIT) at Fair Grounds, the trainer looks to extend that streak and add another graded win to his runner's resume.
The $500,000 New Orleans Handicap (gr. II) is shaping up just like the Feb. 9 Mineshaft Handicap (gr. III) did, and that's fine as far as Neil Howard is concerned. The trainer sends 4-year-old Grasshopper to the March 8 event looking for the same form the colt showed in his Mineshaft victory - and Howard fully expects similar results.
Eclipse Award winner Indian Blessing and archrival Proud Spell match strides for a third time in the $400,000 Fair Grounds Oaks (gr. II) at Fair Grounds March 8.
Winchell Thoroughbreds' Pyro, who stamped himself as a leading Triple Crown contender after his win in last month's Risen Star Stakes (gr. III), is the 7-5 morning-line choice in a field of nine 3-year-olds entered in the March 8 Louisiana Derby (gr. II) at Fair Grounds.
Candy Ball broke sharply and led every step of the way in the $150,000 Bayou Breeders' Cup Handicap Feb. 23 at Fair Grounds, soundly defeating five rivals in the 1 1/8-mile test that was moved to the dirt.
Last year's champion 2-year-old filly will make a return trip to Louisiana March 8.
A field of seven is entered for the Feb. 23 Bayou Handicap, a 1 1/8-mile turf test for older fillies and mares at Fair Grounds.
Winchell Thoroughbreds' Pyro, impressive winner of the Feb. 9 Risen Star Stakes (gr. III) at Fair Grounds, worked Feb. 18 at the New Orleans track and had to avoid a loose horse in the process.
The veteran trainer hit the milestone Feb. 17 when J J's Bud won at Oaklawn Park.
The two early Kentucky Derby favorites, one in Lousiana, the other in Florida, are on schedule for their respective trainers.
From the cavalry charge that entered the head of the lane for the $300,000 Risen Star Stakes (gr. III) at Fair Grounds, a star emerged. Winchell Thoroughbreds' Pyro smoked the competition, making a huge last-to-first move under Shaun Bridgmohan at Fair Grounds Feb. 9.
Last year's 2-year-old champion filly and Grey Goose Breeders' Cup Fillies (gr. I) winner won at her fifth different racetrack and captured her fourth graded stakes.
Daytona, coming off a Dec. 30 win in the San Gabriel Handicap (gr. II) at Santa Anita, kicked off his 4-year-old campaign with an emphatic wire-to-wire win in the $150,000 Fair Grounds Handicap (gr. IIIT) Feb. 9.
Grasshopper made an impressive 4-year-old debut and earned his first graded stakes victory when he took the $150,000 Mineshaft Handicap (gr. III) at Fair Grounds Feb. 9.
With his conditional license revoked in California and no chance to apply there until Dec. 31, Patrick Valenzuela is shifting his tack to Louisiana.
Todd Pletcher trainee Magna Graduate has not scored a win since April 2007 and the Neil Howard-trained Grasshopper has not raced since a second-place finish in the Super Derby Sept. 22. Both are looking for a return to their winning ways in the $150,000 Mineshaft Stakes (gr. III) at Fair Grounds Feb. 9.
Eclipse Award winner Indian Blessing will attempt to maintain a perfect record for Hal and Patti Earnhardt when she leads a field of seven in the $200,000 Silverbulletday Stakes (gr. III) at Fair Grounds Feb. 9.
The ageless Better Talk Now, winner of the 2004 John Deere Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IT) and a graded-stakes winner each of the last five years, heads the field for the $150,000 Fair Grounds Handicap (gr. IIIT), part of Louisiana Derby (gr. II) Preview Day Feb. 9 at Fair Grounds.
Winchell Thoroughbreds' homebred Pyro will make his 3-year-old debut in the $300,000 Risen Star Stakes (gr. III) at Fair Grounds Feb. 9, but don't think the Steve Asmussen trainee lacks experience. Prior to a Feb. 5 move over the Louisiana oval, his last two works were impressive bullets fired in company with 2007 Horse of the Year Curlin.
Horse of the Year Curlin is being pointed to the Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) March 29 at Nad Al Sheba Racecourse to make his first start of 2008, majority owner Jess Jackson said.
Horse of the Year Curlin, pointing toward a 4-year-old campaign, and 3-year-old contender Pyro were noses apart at the finish of a six-furlong tandem workout officially timed in 1:13 at Fair Grounds Jan. 30.
The 2007 Horse of the Year breezed five furlongs with stablemate Pyro Jan. 24 at Fair Grounds.
Jockey Julien Leparoux is shifting his tack to Fair Grounds in New Orleans, La., after spending about six weeks in California, according to the jockey's agent, Steve Bass.
Potential Horse of the Year Curlin turned in a slightly faster work at Fair Grounds Jan. 12, going four furlongs in :51.20 six days after he went the same distance in :53.40.
Zayat Stables' Z Fortune put himself near the top of trainer Steve Asmussen's 3-year-old list when he came from off the pace to take the $100,000 LeComte Stakes (gr. III) at Fair Grounds Jan. 12.
The four ungraded $100,000 stakes races at Fair Grounds' "Road to the Derby Kickoff Day" were all about gate-to-wire wins and solid payoffs, as all but one of the winners paid more than $10 while setting or contesting the pace to do so at the Louisiana track Jan. 12.
The 5-year-old gelding won for the first time in nearly 18 months Jan. 12 at Fair Grounds.
Midnight Cry Stable's 6-year-old Einstein made an emphatic comeback from eight months on the sidelines Jan. 11 at Gulfstream Park with a one-length victory going a mile on turf in a classy $59,500 allowance race.
Fair Grounds' "Road to the Derby" Jan. 12 kickoff day is headed by Silverfoot in the Colonel E.R. Bradley Handicap (gr. IIIT) and Blackberry Road in the Lecomte Stakes (gr. III), but four other $100,000 stakes races have drawn familiar names as well.
The turf event at Fair Grounds will test 10 older horses, five of which met each other last month.
Dogwood Stable's Blackberry Road may be the 7-2 morning line choice for the $100,000 Lecomte Stakes (gr. III), but he'll face two unbeaten runners, a graded stakes winner, and an impressive 9 1/4 length victor when a field of nine heads to the post at the Fair Grounds Jan. 12.
By Ed Martin - Sometimes it's good that racing does not command the front page of USA Today's sports section as often as it should.
Horse of the Year favorite Curlin, gearing up for a potential 4-year-old campaign, worked a half-mile in :53 2/5 seconds Jan. 6 at Fair Grounds.
With the busy winter racing schedule under way, HorseRacing TV will debut a new daily 90-minute show, "RaceDay America," beginning New Year's Day, Jan. 1, at 11:30 a.m. EST.
The inaugural "Santa Sprint Saturday" package at Fair Grounds turned into a two-man show Dec. 22, as trainer Steve Asmussen and jockey Shaun Bridgmohan combined to win all four $100,000 dirt stakes and racked up a whopping six victories on the 10-race card.
Fair Grounds Race Course canceled the final five races of its live racing program Dec. 20 because of weather and track conditions.
A winner of five of seven starts this year, Midnight Cry Stable's homebred Stormin Baghdad headlines a field of 13 for the Dec. 22 Bonapaw Stakes, the last of four $100,000 stakes on the inaugural "Santa Sprint Saturday" card at Fair Grounds.
The Kentucky Horse Racing Authority will form a subcommittee to investigate an incident in which wagering on a Fair Grounds race at Keeneland remained available while a race was in progress, officials said Dec. 17.
Royal Strand colt destroys the field by 15 1/4 lengths in the Louisiana Champions Day Classic Dec. 8 at Fair Grounds.
Curlin, the leading candidate for 2007 Horse of the Year, arrived at Fair Grounds Nov. 27 following a van ride from Churchill Downs, but his racing future is still undecided.
Two horses owned by Dogwood Stable have validated their status as early candidates for the 2008 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands, the partnership announced Nov. 26.
Veteran jockey E.J. Perrodin remained in intensive care at Tulane Medical Center Nov. 24 as a result of injuries sustained prior to the previous day at Fair Grounds.
Jockey E.J. Perrodin was thrown from his mount prior to the 10th race Nov. 23 at Fair Grounds and was taken to a New Orleans-area hospital for observation.
Observing its traditional holiday start, Fair Grounds will open its doors Thanksgiving Day, beginning an 81-day meet highlighted by Louisiana Derby day, the richest day in Louisiana racing history, which will feature six stakes worth $2.2 million.
HRTV will provide comprehensive live coverage of the 2007-08 Fair Grounds beginning Nov. 22, Thanksgiving Day. The 81-day meet runs through March 23.
Oaklawn Park has signed an agreement to allow TrackNet Media Group to manage the track's simulcast sales, it was announced Oct. 15.
The 136th Fair Grounds racing season, highlighted by the $600,000 Louisiana Derby (gr. II), will offer a total of 64 stakes worth $7.3 million, it was announced Sept. 20.
Fair Grounds in New Orleans, La., will open a temporary slot-machine facility Sept. 21, track president Randall Soth announced Sept. 7.
During a conference call to discuss second-quarter earnings, Robert Evans, president and chief executive officer of Churchill Downs Inc., said the company would no longer release handle and attendance figures at the conclusion of race meets for its four racetrack properties.
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