(Edited press release)
While the spotlight will be on the 3-year-old colt and filly divisions on Louisiana Derby Day presented by Budweiser March 10 at Fair Grounds Race Course, the 82nd running of the $500,000 New Orleans Handicap (gr. II) has attracted a field of seven, led by two graded stakes winners.
Aaron and Marie Jones’ Master Command, who has been installed as the 7-5 favorite, is coming off a six-length triumph as the odds-on favorite in the Feb. 10 Mineshaft Handicap (gr. III) at Fair Grounds. It was the third graded stakes win in nine months for the 5-year-old son of A.P. Indy, who is trained by three-time Eclipse Award winner Todd Pletcher.
John Velazquez, a two-time Eclipse winner himself, will break the 122-pound highweight from the outside post.
Edward Evans’ Liquor Cabinet, an Irish-bred son of Hennessy, was dominant last time out as well, capturing the Aqueduct Handicap (gr. III) Jan. 20 by nine lengths. The Richard Dutrow trainee has won both of his starts since returning from a seven-month layoff.
Edgar Prado, who won the 2006 Eclipse as champion jockey, will ride Liquor Cabinet for the first time and break the 6-year-old from post 5. Liquor Cabinet is the 2-1 second choice and will carry 118 pounds.
The rest of the New Orleans Handicap field includes off-the-turf Woodchopper Handicap winner Good and Lucky, three-time stakes winner More Than Regal, Mineshaft runner-up Patriot Act, Louisiana Breeders’ Cup Handicap winner Sandburr, and recent allowance winner Smokeyjonessutton.
$500,000 New Orleans Handicap (gr. II), 1 1/8 Miles, 4-year-olds and up, 3:08 Cst:
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Patriot Act, 115, Robby Albarado
2. Good and Lucky, 114, Jesse Campbell
3. Sandburr, 114, James Graham
4. Smokeyjonessutton, 113, Garrett Gomez
5. Liquor Cabinet, 118, Edgar Prado
6. More Than Regal, 115, Ramsey Zimmerman
7. Master Command, 122, John Velazquez