Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Lukas Bringing His ‘Twos-Turning-Threes’ to New Orleans

NEW ORLEANS (Monday, November 23, 2009) – Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, who has 30 stalls at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots for the 2009-2010 Thoroughbred Racing Season Presented by Miller Lite, entered two Marylou Whitney homebred fillies for Thursday’s traditional Thanksgiving Day program—Bootless in the second race and Miner Bird in the seventh. Lukas’s first starter of the season, Lambeau Legend, appeared in Sunday’s seventh race and the trainer says his stable’s presence will increase gradually throughout the meet.

“Those on Thursday are fillies that we’re trying to find their level and hope that we have them well-placed,” Lukas said by phone Sunday morning. “The management of those types is very important. We hope that they’re competitive in those spots, but as the meet progresses our better horses will show up and we’ll have a good blend of claimers and maiden special weights.”

The Road to the Derby

Lukas won the Louisiana Derby and Kentucky Derby in 1996 with Grindstone, who became the only horse since Black Gold in 1924 to accomplish that feat. If there’s another Grindstone in the barn this winter, Fair Grounds fans can look forward to the possibility of seeing that horse develop over multiple races in New Orleans.

“We’ve got some ‘twos-turning-threes’ this winter that I think are going to be some pretty nice horses and that’s a nice program down there that will let us expose them to some better races,” Lukas said. “We’ve grown a bit in the last couple years and Fair Grounds is a real good option for us because we’re top-heavy in the 2-year-olds. The program in New Orleans is solid and lets us develop some 3-year-olds.”

This year, Fair Grounds is going all out to entice the best field possible for its signature race, the Grade II, $750,000 Louisiana Derby Presented by Miller Lite, now positioned five weeks before the Kentucky Derby and lengthened to 1 1/8 miles. For the first time, the $25,000 starter fee for the Kentucky Derby will be waived for any horse that starts in the Risen Star and the Louisiana Derby and finishes among the top three in either.

“The 3-year-old program there fits very well from the standpoint of the progression, as far as the date and everything goes,” said Lukas of the March 27 Louisiana Derby and the Road to the Derby series for 3-year-olds that also includes the Grade III, $100,000 Lecomte Stakes (1 mile and 40 yards) on Jan. 23 and the Grade III, $300,000 Risen Star Stakes (1 1/16 miles) on Feb. 20. “The progression of going into the Risen Star and then onto the [Louisiana] Derby and so forth is a nice progression for us.”

The length of the Fair Grounds season, from November to March, was also attractive to Lukas, who has a number of his promising juveniles close to ready for their debuts.

“The big thing is to be able to run,” he said. “I like the fact that there’s nothing else going on in December so we get to race in December and January. Then as it gets toward spring we’ll have a lot of these pretty ready to run and do something serious.”

Riders for Lukas

Corey Lanerie rode for Lukas on Sunday and John Jacinto has both mounts on Thanksgiving. Rather than commit to one jockey as a first-call rider, Lukas prefers to see who’s hot and keep his options open.

“As I’ve always told the riders, I just want to date them, I don’t want to marry them,” he said. “We’ll try to ride those that are doing well. Jamie Theriot has ridden a lot of horses for us in the last year and John Jacinto always did very well with us in Hot Springs when we were there. If your horses are running well the better riders will migrate to them.”

Lukas’s string in New Orleans will be overseen by assistant Sebastian Nicholl. Lukas will also have a string at Oaklawn Park, which opens its season in January.

“I’m going to get moved into Hot Springs and then right after the holidays you’ll start seeing me [at Fair Grounds] more and more,” Lukas said.

Nicks Excited About Take Turns in Trainer’s First Win for Pin Oak

Trainer Morris Nicks was pleased after first-time starter Take Turns drew off to win by 3 ¼ lengths in Sunday’s seventh race, a juvenile maiden special weight. The son of Seeking the Gold is a Pin Oak Stud homebred out of Alternate, who earned more than a half-million dollars.

“He’s a good-moving colt but he ran green,” Nicks said. “It was a really green race. He’s got to step up, we know that, but I do feel like there was more in the tank. But you also get some that are like kids in school. He’s a kid right now so we just have to wait and see.”

Take Turns was the first winner Nicks has trained for Josephine Abercrombie’s Pin Oak Stud.

“This is the first time I’ve ever trained for her,” Nicks said. “I’ve been real kind to this one, didn’t push him, gave him time. I’ve had this colt training since late May or early June.”

Nicks has three Pin Oak homebreds in his care at Fair Grounds, including Accomplishment, a 3-year-old filly making her debut in Friday’s seventh race, a maiden special weight at 5 ½ furlongs on the turf.

2009-2010 Leading Jockeys (through Sunday)

Jockey Wins
Shane Sellers 10
Brian Hernandez Jr. 9
John Jacinto 9
Corey Lanerie 8
James Graham 7
Jesse Campbell 6
Jamie Theriot 6
Richard Eramia 6
Curt Bourque 5
Ramsey Zimmerman 4

2009-2010 Leading Trainers (through Sunday)

Trainer Wins
Bret Calhoun 4
Michael Stidham 4
Steve Asmussen 4
Keith Bourgeois 4
Merrill Scherer 4
Eric Guillot 4
5 tied 3

2009-2010 Leading Owners (through Sunday)
Owner Wins

Southern Equine Stables 4
(Michael Moreno)
Carl R. Moore 3
Harris Hughey 2
Griffon Farms 2
John Duvieilh,
Keith & Earl Hernandez 2
77 tied 1

Week 3 Winners to Know (with owner, trainer, jockey)

Big Polk a Dot (Southern Equine Stables, Eric Guillot, Jamie Theriot)—A $300,00 yearling purchase in 2007, the 3-year-old Tapit colt made his debut a winning one, by one length, in a Friday maiden special weight at 1 1/16 miles

Lite the Cigar (Heiligbrodt Racing Stable, Jim Hudson, Jesse Campbell)—Four-year-old surpassed $100k in earnings with a three-quarter-length win as the favorite going about one mile on turf in Friday’s feature, a prep for the La. Champions Day Turf

Lee City (William J. Deckwa Jr., Shawn David, James Graham)—Two-year-old filly by Leestown pulled away to get first career win by 2 ¼ lengths in Friday’s six-furlong finale, a prep for the La. Champions Day Lassie

Crescent City Zip (Danny Cloy & George Wall, Eric Heitzmann, Curt Bourque)—Two-year-old by City Zip won at first asking, edging away by 1 ½ lengths in a Saturday six-furlong maiden special weight, a prep for the La. Champions Day Juvenile

Tapachula (Winchel Thoroughbreds, Steve Asmussen, Brian Hernandez Jr.)—Two-year-old filly by Tapit earned first win in second career start by an easy 3 ¼ lengths going six furlongs in a Saturday maiden special weight

Sheza Sexy A.P. (Tri-Star Racing, Wes Hawley, Jamie Theriot)—Two-year-old filly by A.P. Delta earned a hard-fought half-length victory in Saturday’s feature, a first-level allowance at six furlongs that served as a prep for the La. Champions Day Lassie

Take Turns (Pin Oak Stud, Morris Nicks, James Graham)—Two-year-old first-time-starter, a Pin Oak homebred by Seeking the Gold out of half-million-dollar earner Alternate, drew clear by 3 ¼, despite lugging in, in Sunday maiden special weight at six furlongs

King of Speed (Carl Moore, Bret Calhoun, Ramsey Zimmerman)—The popular doughnut-loving 10-year-old gelding won for 23rd time in 100th career start in a Sunday claiming contest at 1 1/16 miles

Jays Wildcat (Harris Hughey, Sturges Ducoing, Jesse Campbell)—Two-year-old by Wildcat Shoes won by 1 ½ lengths going six furlongs in Sunday’s feature, a first-level allowance for state-breds preparing for the La. Champions Day Juvenile

Top Mutuels—Week 3

Pool: Amount, Horse(s), Date, Race(s)
Win: $36.60 (Good Fight, Nov. 20, Race 7)
Place: $24.40 (Carry the Loan, Nov. 21, Race 11)
Show: $14.00 (Carry the Loan, Nov. 21, Race 11)
Exacta: $290.20 (Blessed Eva-Almost Impressed, Nov. 21, Race 2)
Trifecta: $7,635.80 (Meteor Shot-Carry the Loan-Ruah, Nov. 21, Race 11)
Superfecta: $95,425.40 (Meteor Shot-Carry the Loan-Ruah-Royal Pebbles, Nov. 21, Race 11)
Super Hi5: Wager not offered until Dec. 3
Daily Double: $206.40 (Sheza Sexy A.P.-Meteor Shot, Nov. 21, Races 10-11)
Pick 3: $1,620.80 (Good Fight-Lite the Cigar-Lee City, Nov. 20, Races 7-9)
Pick 4: $7,778.80 (Nov. 21, Races 8-11)
Pick 6: No 6-for-6 winners yet

NOTE: All payoffs on $2 wager

Top Mutuels—Season

Pool: Amount, Horse(s), Date, Race(s)
Win: $163.40 (Deenameetay, Nov. 13, Race 9)
Place: $60.00 (Monday Mornin Rail, Nov. 7, Race 2)
Show: $30.80 (Deenameetay, Nov. 13, Race 9)
Exacta: $1,534.80 (Jenny Redi Made-Macho Mama, Nov. 6, Race 1)
Trifecta: $30,515.80 (Monday Mornin Rail-Rodeo Miss-Lola’s Surprise, Nov. 7, Race 2)
Superfecta: $172,786.60 (Midway Holiday-Maple Heights-Moneigh-Spunky Monkey, Nov. 14, Race 7)
Super Hi5: Wager not offered until Dec. 3
Daily Double: $630.80 (Jenny Redi Made-Cole’s Music, Nov. 6, Races 1-2)
Pick 3: $7,338 (Salic Law-Heliotropium-Golden Valley, Nov. 7, Races 9-11)
Pick 4: $68,750.40 (Beverly Belle-Lovely Tribute-Dancin Perfect-Deenameetay, Nov. 13, Races 6-9
Pick 6: No 6-for-6 winners yet

NOTE: All payoffs on $2 wager

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