For the second consecutive year, Jim and Dennis Richard's Bonapaw set a stakes record while winning the Thanksgiving Day Handicap on the opening-day card at Fair Grounds in New Orleans.
Ridden by Gerard Melancon for trainer Howard Alonzo, Bonapaw cruised to a four-length victory over Robin De Nest as he covered six furlongs in 1:08 3/5, second-fastest time for the distance in track history. Hallowed Dreams holds the record of six furlongs in 1:08 1/5. Bonapaw broke into the lead and opened up in the stretch before unleashing a strong stretch drive. Crucible finished third.
"I figured he (Bonapaw) wanted the lead off the layoff," said Melancon, who rode a four winners on the card witnessed by 7,648, second-largest crowd at Fair Grounds since the grandstand/clubhouse was rebuilt five years ago. "I knew I had a lot of horse coming down the lane and he just loves this track."
"For two years now we've been telling Gerard to break that track record," Jim Richard said jokingly, "and he never listens to us."