Fair Grounds’ “Road to the Derby” 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 first black type event on the card is the F.W. Gaudin Memorial Stakes. The six furlong dirt event for 4-year-olds and up is headed by Steve Asmussen trainee Stormin Baghdad. The 4-year-old Stormin Fever colt carries the high weight of 122 in a field of eight. He seeks a fourth consecutive win for Midnight Cry Stable after victories in the Bonapaw Stakes Dec. 22, the Thanksgiving Handicap Nov. 22, and an allowance optional claimer Nov. 1.
Also in the field are the Menifee gelding Sumfun, coming off an eight-length win in Zia Park’s Lea County Sprint Stakes, and the unbeaten Langfuhr colt Euroears, who will try stakes company for the first time.
The Colonel E.R. Bradley Handicap (gr. IIIT) will be followed by the 1 1/16-mile Louisiana Handicap. Also restricted to 4-year-olds and up, the race has attracted Perryville Stakes (gr. III) winner Steve’s Double, who also seeks his fourth consecutive win for Oxbow Racing and trainer Ronny Werner. The Stephen Got Even gelding scored his most recent victory in the Tenacious Handicap at Fair Grounds Dec. 1. and will face grade II stakes winner Slew’s Tizzy among the field of nine. The 5-year-old Tiznow colt returns to dirt after a third-place finish Nov. 11 in the Commonwealth Turf Stakes at Churchill for trainer Greg Fox and owner Joseph LaCombe.
In the Dr. A.B. Leggio Memorial Stakes, nine fillies and mares 4-years-old and up will compete on the turf over 5 ½-furlongs. The 122 pound highweight is 6-year-old Pembroke mare Flying Circle, a multiple stakes winner coming off a victory for trainer David Fawkes and Walter New in the Mariah’s Storm Stakes at Churchill Nov. 18.
Also in the field are the third and fourth-place finishers from the Mariah’s Storm - Smitty's Sunshine and Cat on a Cloud.
Finally, seven 3-year-old fillies will go one mile on the dirt in the Tiffany Lass Stakes. Steve Asmussen sends out a potentially dangerous pair in Jolie the Cat and Diamondaire, both with recent wins under their girths. The first, a Tale of the Cat filly, broke her maiden last time out Dec. 7 after two third-place efforts for Heligbrodt Racing stable and JMJ Racing Stable. The second, a daughter of Distorted Humor , broke her maiden at first asking Oct. 18, ran second in the My Trusty Cat Stakes at Delta Downs Nov. 9, and won a Fair Grounds allowance by 4 ½ lengths Nov. 30.
The 122 pound highweight is Ward Stables’ Timely Reflection, winner of the Donnie Wilhite Memorial Handicap at Louisiana Downs Aug. 18. That Yankee Victor filly last ran third by 1 ½ lengths in the M2 Technology La Seniorita Stakes Oct. 27 for trainer Bret Calhoun.
The final race on the card is the LeComte Stakes (gr. III) for 3-year olds, headlined by Dogwood Stable’s Blackberry Road and runners such as Texas Fever, He’s Eze, and Star Guitar.