Monday, March 26, 2012

Cigar Street Breezes for Louisiana Derby

NEW ORLEANS (Sunday, March 25, 2012) – Trainer Steve Margolis breezed Jake Ballis’s Cigar Street five furlongs in 1:01.20 Sunday morning and shortly thereafter pronounced the colt ready to compete in the upcoming $1 million Louisiana Derby on April 1.

“We’re good (for the local Derby),” said Margolis of the lightly raced son of 2008 Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense shortly after Sunday’s move. “He pulled up good and everything is fine, now.”

Cigar Street, who broke his maiden by 13 ¾ lengths March 10 at Fair Grounds, was timed in partial early splits of 12.60 and 49.80 Sunday and Margolis timed him galloping out six furlongs in 1:15 and change.

Margolis returned to New Orleans late Saturday night after saddling Dixiana Stable’s Toxis to run third in Turfway’s Grade III Bourbonette Oaks earlier in the day. The New York-born conditioner also breezed Jake Ballis’s 3-year-old filly Inny Minnie in 1:01.60 during training hours Sunday and is now planning on running her in Saturday’s Grade II Fair Grounds Oaks due to the late withdrawal of Tall Oaks Farm’s Avie’s Sense.

A third Margolis-trained charge – Richard, Bertram and Elaine Klein’s Cash Refund – breezed a half-mile in 47.40 on Sunday in advance of the $150,000 Duncan F. Kenner Stakes on Louisiana Derby Day, the closing day of the 2011-2012 New Orleans racing season.

Cash Refund won the Duncan F. Kenner two years ago but finished fourth in last season’s renewal. The 6-year-old Petionville gelding was most recently second by a nose in Fair Grounds’ $75,000 F. W. Gaudin Memorial on Jan. 21 after racing three-wide on the turn and before that was second by a nose in Fair Grounds’ $75,000 Thanksgiving Handicap on Opening Day this season after being bumped solidly at the break.

AVIE’S SENSE OUT OF FG OAKS – Tall Oaks Farm’s Avie’s Sense, who was the early second choice for Saturday’s Grade II Fair Grounds Oaks, was not entered Sunday for Fair Grounds’ feminine fixture due to an unspecified setback, trainer Josie Carroll confirmed when reached by phone on her way to Florida.

“Yes, we’ve had a little setback,” Carroll said. “We’re not quite 100 percent ‘bang on’ with her right now, and I think in a race like this you need to be. We’re going to back off this one and give her a little more time.”

Avie’s Sense, a daughter of 2008 Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense, broke her maiden with an eye-opening 5 3/4-length tally at Fair Grounds Jan. 5. That race impressed the trainer enough to jump her into stakes competition for her next start, where she finished second by a length to Gillian Campbell et al.’s favored Summer Applause in the Grade III Rachel Alexandra Stakes here Feb. 25.

LUKAS ADDS MAIDEN FILLY TO MIX FOLLOWING FG OAKS UPDATE – Hall of Fame trainer Wayne Lukas, a four-time Eclipse Award-winning conditioner, reacted quickly to the news that Avie’s Sense was not entered in Saturday’s $500,000 Fair Grounds Oaks by naming a promising maiden filly to the field.

Lukas entered a daughter of Belmont Stakes winner Empire Maker named Colonial Empress, owned by Bluegrass Hall, to the Grade II Fair Grounds Oaks – sister race to the upcoming $1 million Louisiana Derby.

Colonial Empress, out of a mare by 1981 Kentucky Derby winner Pleasant Colony, has made two starts in her career, finishing fourth in Oaklawn’s Martha Washington Stakes Feb. 11 in her career debut and then coming back to run third behind the highly-regarded On Fire Baby in Oaklawn’s Grade III Honeybee March 10.

SUMMER APPLAUSE REMAINS 8-5 EARLY CHOICE IN THE FAIR GROUNDS OAKS – In spite of the defection of Tall Oaks Farm’s early second choice Avie’s Sense from Saturday’s Grade II Fair Grounds Oaks, Gillian Campbell, R Group Management and Greenwood Lodge Farm’s Summer Applause remained the 8-5 morning line choice due to the late additions of Jake Ballis’s Inny Minnie and Bluegrass Hall’s Colonial Empress to Fair Grounds’ filly fixture.

“She breezed very good yesterday and she came out of it good,” said trainer Bret Calhoun’s assistant “Peaches” Geier during training hours Sunday when speaking of Summer Applause’s Saturday half-mile move in 47.60. “(Jockey) Robby Albarado is really high on her. He says she just keeps getting better every day.”

Summer Applause most recently won the Grade III Rachel Alexandra Stakes here Feb. 25 in impressive fashion, but ran second to Brereton Jones’s Believe You Can in the $125,000 Silverbulletday Stakes Jan. 21 in the first leg of Fair Grounds’ sophomore filly series.

“(Believe You Can) just got loose on the lead that day,” said Geier. “The pace was very slow in that race.”

The Calhoun barn is also preparing Gary and Mary West’s Fire Alarm for a run in the upcoming $1 million Louisiana Derby April 1, closing day of the current New Orleans racing season. That colt by 2000 Kentucky Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus won his last start here March 2 and breezed a half in 50.20 on Saturday.

“He’s a long shot and I know he’s still immature,” said Geier, “but he seems to be one of those ‘the-longer-the-better’ colts. He still likes to play, but it does seem like he learns a little more each time he runs.”

On Saturday, the Calhoun barn sent out Carl Moore Management’s Speedacious to a dead-heat win with Peter Blum Thoroughbreds’ Inspired in Fair Grounds’ $75,000 Happy Ticket Stakes after Speedacious got away from the gate in uncharacteristically tardy fashion.

“Miguel (Mena, jockey) told us she was leaning real bad in the gate when they sprung it,” said Geier. “Also, she’s not used to being on the inside like that. But to tell you the truth I think she just got beat. I think we probably got lucky to get the dead-heat.”

In other Sunday moves in advance of Fair Grounds upcoming foursome of Grade II stakes, Raut LLC’s Hero of Order went a half in 48 flat and Jim Tafel’s Afford went five-eighths in 1:01.80 for the Louisiana Derby; while Henry Pabst’s Joinem and Andrew T & S Racing’s Mr. Vegas went five-eighths in 1:01 flat and 1:03.60 respectively in advance of the Grade II Mervin Muniz Memorial April 1.

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