The top three finishers of the Colonel E. R. Bradley Handicap (gr. IIIT) including the winner, Gran Estreno, will face off once again in the $125,000 Fair Grounds Handicap (gr. IIIT) Feb. 19.
Eight-year-old Gran Estreno scored by 1 1/4 lengths in the Bradley by will face formidable challengers in the Fair Grounds Handicap that include grade I winner Telling, stablemate Workin For Hops, and Loup Breton, who makes his first start for Todd Pletcher. The 1 1/8-mile turf contest drew a field of 12 and will go to post at approximately 4:14 p.m. CDT, just before the featured $300,000 Risen Star (gr. II).
Feel The Thunder Stable’s Gran Estreno seems to be getting better with age, as he reeled off his third win in his last four starts in the Bradley. It was the fourth group/graded stakes victory for the Argentinean-bred son of Lucky Roberto, and his second triumph on the Fair Grounds turf course. Anna Napravnik rode the chestnut horse to victory in that last race but trainer Michael Stidham has assigned James Graham for the Fair Grounds Handicap.
Napravnik will ride Stidham’s other charge instead, Estrorace’s Workin For Hops, who has hit the board in all but one of his 10 lifetime starts, including five wins. The 4-year-old City Zip gelding is a three-time stakes winner, the first of those coming in last year’s Grindstone Stakes while sprinting on the Fair Grounds turf. He showed his ability to carry his speed two turns later in the season with wins in the Arlington Classic and American Derby (gr. IIT) before finishing 2010 with good tries in the Secretariat (gr. IT) and Kent (gr. IIIT) Stakes.
Runner-up in the Bradley was Dubious Miss, who was in contention the whole way but was outfinished by his rival. The 7-year-old son of E Dubai finished second in this race a year ago, one start before scoring the Ben Ali (gr. IIIT) at Keeneland. Corey Lanerie will ride for trainer Paul McGee.
Joinem, trained by David Carroll, finished third in his stakes debut, beaten 2 1/4 lengths after coming from off the pace. The lightly-raced 4-year-old Johar gelding won a two-turn optional claimer at Fair Grounds to end his 2010 season.
Steve Hobby trainee Telling scored his two biggest wins in the 2009 and 2010 editions of the grade I Sword Dancer Invitational at Saratoga. Based at Oaklawn Park this winter, he will make his 7-year-old debut and will race at Fair Grounds for the first time in his 26th start. The son of A. P. Indy will get a new rider—Mike Smith.
Wildenstein Stable’s Loup Breton has won twice in seven starts since 2009 when shipping from France to the United States. Previously based in California with trainer Julio Canani, the 7-year-old’s biggest win came in last year’s 10-furlong San Marcos (gr. IIT) at Santa Anita and he also finished third in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (gr. IT) later in 2010.
But he was sidelined after finishing seventh in the Eddie Read (gr. IT) at Del Mar in July and was moved to Pletcher’s barn at Palm Meadows in December. The Irish-bred horse has had six official works for Pletcher, apparently enough for Fair Grounds to install him as the 3-1 morning-line choice.
$125,000 Fair Grounds Handicap (gr. IIIT, Race 9, 4:14 p.m.), 4YO and Up, 1 1/8 Miles (Turf) PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer 1. Dubious Miss (KY), C J Lanerie, 117, P J McGee
2. Le Grand Cru (KY), J Theriot, 116, R W Werner
3. Telling (KY), M E Smith, 122, S Hobby
4. Gran Estreno (ARG), J Graham, 121, M Stidham
5. Sleepless Knight (KY), J Bravo, 116, K J Breen
6. Midnight Mischief (KY), J R Leparoux, 116, W I Mott
7. Joinem (KY), S Bridgmohan, 115, D M Carroll
8. Workin for Hops (KY), A R Napravnik, 118, M Stidham
9. Hidden Glance (KY), B J Hernandez Jr., 115, N J Howard
10. Loup Breton (IRE), R Maragh, 120, T A Pletcher
11. Expansion (KY), G Melancon, 118, S M Asmussen
12. Skip a Smile (TX), E Martin Jr., 113, D Pish