Albano won the 2014 Pegasus Stakes.

Albano won the 2014 Pegasus Stakes.

Equi-Photo/William Osborn

Albano, Kitten's Dumplings Back in FG Stakes

Grade III winner heads Louisiana 'Cap; grade I winner tops Marie G. Krantz Jan. 17.

Brereton C. Jones' Albano looks to kick off what could be a breakthrough year when he heads a six-horse field for the 69th running of the $75,000 Louisiana Handicap at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots Jan. 17.

Trained by Larry Jones, the 4-year-old son of Istan exits a sophomore season that saw him win the $150,000 Pegasus Stakes (gr. III), finish second to subsequent Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) winner Bayern  in the $1 million Haskell Invitational (gr. I), and place in three other graded stakes.

Since returning to training the Kentucky-bred has worked phenomenally, including five bullet works in his last seven moves—highlighted by a five-furlong breeze in :59.60 on Jan. 6. Kerwin Clark rides from post five.  

The late Jim Tafel's 5-year-old Louisiana defending champion Fordubai has also served notice in the mornings that he may be a force with which to reckon in the 1 1/16-mile test. A notoriously slow workhorse, the son of E Dubai shot out an uncharacteristic bullet on Jan. 4 for trainer Greg Geier, working a half-mile in a :47.80. Very consistent throughout his career, the five-time winner and two-time stakes victor is exiting a game third in the $50,000 Tenacious Stakes on Dec. 21 and will team up with Robby Albarado from post two.

Multiple graded stakes-winning stalwarts Nates Mineshaft and Grand Contender will try to put their youthful rivals in their places when they line up in the Louisiana for their respective connections.

Windy Hill Farms' Anne Smith-trained 8-year-old Nates Mineshaft—third last out in the $60,000 Thanksgiving Handicap at six furlongs—owns the 1 1/8-mile Fair Grounds track record, as well as three graded stakes victories. The Louisiana Handicap will be his first attempt at a two-turn dirt race on a standard oval since he was third in the $400,000 Stephen Foster Handicap in 2012 (gr. I), finishing three-quarters of a length behind Wise Dan. Brian Hernandez, Jr. rides the son of Mineshaft  from the rail.

Maggi Moss runner Grand Contender exits an easy wire-to-wire victory in the off-the-turf and sloppy $50,000 Buddy Diliberto Memorial on Dec. 19 and will try to improve upon his runner-up finish last year in the Louisiana. James Graham rides 7-year-old five-time stakes winner for trainer Tom Amoss from the outside post six.

Hard Aces (Jose Riquelme, post three) and Paddy's Notes (Marcelino Pedroza, post four) make up the remainder of the Louisiana field.

Later on the card, the $60,000 Marie G. Krantz Memorial at 1 1/16 miles on the Stall-Wilson turf course, has been chosen as the re-unveiling of Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey's highly regarded homebred Kitten's Dumplings. A grade I winner who has been off since a ninth-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf (gr. I) in 2013, Kitten's Dumplings won the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (gr. IT) in October of 2013 and has earned nearly $700,000 in a 13-race career that also includes two other graded stakes victories.

The daughter of Kitten's Joy  will take on 10 other rivals, including defending Krantz winner Eden Prairie in an exciting renewal that goes as one of five stakes on Saturday's Road to the Derby Kickoff Day card. Trained by Mike Maker, Kitten's Dumplings will break from post nine under Mike Smith.

Lothenbach Stables' multiple stakes winner Eden Prairie returns to defend her title in the Krantz. Now a 5-year-old, Eden Prairie returned to a Fair Grounds turf course she relished last out when proving an easy front-end winner of the $50,000 Blushing K. D. Stakes on Dec. 18. Trained by Neil Pessin, the versatile daughter of Mizzen Mast  has won four of her six starts on the local grass and will team again with jockey Florent Geroux from post 10.

Haynes Stables et al's Every Way drew widest of all in the field of 11 and will be making her first start since a lackluster try on the Del Mar Polytrack last August. Prior to that effort, the City Zip mare was fifth, beaten just three lengths in the John C. Mabee (gr. IIT) on the Del Mar turf. A grade III-placed runner trained by Mike Stidham, Every Way will be paired with Robby Albarado.

Stidham also saddles stakes newcomer Notte d'Oro for Twin Creeks Racing Stable. The 4-year-old Medaglia d'Oro  filly has won both of her lifetime starts on the Stall-Wilson turf course and closed willingly to win a second-level allowance optional claiming event here on Dec. 18 under James Graham, who has the return call Saturday from post five.

The Krantz field is completed by Hung the Moon (Miguel Mena, post one), Malibu Yankee (Brian Hernandez, Jr., post two), Synapse (Marcelino Pedroza, post three), Midnight Sweetie (Jose Riquelme, post four), Interest Free (Jamie Theriot, post six), Maid On a Mission (Abel Lezcano, post seven), and Samiam (Kerwin Clark, post eight).

Entries: Louisiana H.

Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, Saturday, January 17, 2015, Race 7

  • STK
  • 1 1/16m
  • Dirt
  • $75,000
  • 4 yo's & up
  • 3:25 PM (local)
11Nates Mineshaft (KY)Brian Joseph Hernandez, Jr.118Anne P. Smith-
22Fordubai (KY)Robby Albarado118Greg Geier-
33Hard Aces (KY)Jose Riquelme118J. Larry Jones-
44Paddy's Notes (IN)Marcelino Pedroza120Tim Glyshaw-
55Albano (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateKerwin D. Clark118J. Larry Jones-
66Grand Contender (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateJames Graham122Thomas M. Amoss-

Entries: Marie G. Krantz Memorial H.

Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, Saturday, January 17, 2015, Race 10

  • STK
  • About 1 1/16m
  • Turf
  • $60,000
  • 4 yo's & up Fillies and Mares
  • 4:54 PM (local)
11Hung the Moon (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateMiguel Mena118Michael Stidham-
22Malibu Yankee (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateBrian Joseph Hernandez, Jr.118Thomas M. Amoss-
33Synapse (KY)Marcelino Pedroza118Andrew Leggio, Jr.-
44Midnight Sweetie (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateJose Riquelme118Jayne Bower-Curtis-
55Notte d'Oro (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateJames Graham120Michael Stidham-
66Interest Free (KY)Jamie Theriot118Neil J. Howard-
77Maid On a Mission (KY)Abel Lezcano122Tommy Ray Mills-
88Samiam (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateKerwin D. Clark118William Van Meter-
99Kitten's Dumplings (KY)Mike E. Smith118Michael J. Maker-
1010Eden Prairie (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateFlorent Geroux122Neil L. Pessin-
1111Every Way (KY)Robby Albarado118Michael Stidham-