Sunday, April 01 2012


Owner Ahmed Zayat on Scratch of Nehro from Sunday’s Grade II, $400,000 New Orleans Handicap


Owner Ahmed Zayat on the scratch of Nehro: “He came back tied up (from his exercise Saturday morning). He’s fine right now. We’re very cautious with him, obviously, because he’s a very nice colt. We want to error on the right side so we decided the right thing to do is to make sure he’s a hundred percent, so he’s going to be scratched.

“We believe he’s actually much better than last year when he was a very nice, late-developing colt. But he’s actually doing much, much better, working much, much better. He’s much more focused. We were very happy with where he was at and believed he would have run very, very big. Because he wasn’t going to be a hundred percent by the race, Steve (Asmussen) and I decided that he needed every chance to show what he’s made of so we decided to scratch him.





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Believe You Can Survives in $500,000 Fair Grounds Oaks


NEW ORLEANS (Saturday, March 31, 2012) – Brereton Jones’s Believe You Can, with regular rider Rosie Napravnik aboard, looked like she would, then looked like she wouldn’t, but finally did win Saturday’s 45th running of the $500,000 Fair Grounds Oaks, the 3-year-old filly counterpart to Sunday’s $1 million Louisiana Derby.

“I was jumping around hugging everybody,” said her trainer Larry Jones, speaking of when Believe You Can drew off by a comfortable margin in the stretch, “but then here comes this four-horse (R Group Management’s favored Summer Applause) and then I had to start riding (cheering for her to hang on) my filly again. But then when Rosie got into her again, she started running again.”





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Saturday, March 31 2012


Louisiana Derby Contender Cigar Street ‘A Good Outlet’ For NBA Connections


NEW ORLEANS (Friday, March 30, 2012) – When Jake Ballis told his friend Rashard Lewis they should purchase a few horses together, Lewis had a lot of questions.

The NBA forward with the Washington Wizards grew up shooting hoops with Ballis in high school, playing on an AAU team together.





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A Dozen California, Florida Shippers in Town for Louisiana Derby Weekend’s 11 Stakes


NEW ORLEANS (Friday, March 30, 2012) – An even dozen equine invaders from California and Florida scheduled to be part of the 11-stakes gala programs offered Saturday and Sunday at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots have all arrived safely in New Orleans in anticipation of the upcoming Louisiana Derby Weekend in the Crescent City.

The three horses from the West Coast came in together on an equine charter Wednesday, and nine more that have been based in South Florida all winter arrived early Thursday afternoon.





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Friday, March 30 2012


Bloemer Girl Wins Thursday Feature


NEW ORLEANS (Thursday, March 29, 2012) – Andrew and Christa Arthur’s Bloemer Girl, away alertly and quickly in command, made the pace and withstood two late challengers to capture Thursday’s $51,000 allowance and $40,000 optional claiming filly and mare grass dash at Fair Grounds by a half-length.

The winner, trained by Mike Stidham and ridden by Richard Eramia, accomplished the about 5 1/2-furlong distance over the Stall-Wilson turf course rated “good” in 1:05.86, increased her career earnings to $127,544 with her third win in six lifetime starts and returned mutuels of $7.80, $3.80 and $3.40.





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Thursday, March 29 2012


Cigar Street Faces Big Test in Louisiana Derby


NEW ORLEANS (Wednesday, March 28, 2012) – Less than three weeks ago, Jake Ballis and Rashard Lewis’s Cigar Street had never won a race, and less than a week ago, trainer Steve Margolis was still undecided about entering his colt in Sunday’s $1 million Louisiana Derby, but following a five-furlong breeze last Sunday, accomplished in 1:01.20, the New York City-born Margolis pronounced his quickly-developing colt accomplished enough to contest the showcase event of the New Orleans racing season.

Fair Grounds morning-line odds maker Mike Diliberto agreed, installing Cigar Street as the 7-2 second choice for Sunday’s the Grade II local Derby – always a significant step stepping stone to the Kentucky Derby less than five weeks later.





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Comisky’s Humor Goes From $1,200 Purchase to the $1 Million Louisiana Derby


NEW ORLEANS (Wednesday, March 28, 2012) – “Believe me, this is some Cinderella story,” Mike Munna said one day at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots. “Believe me!”

The owner was referring to his 3-year-old gelding Comisky’s Humor – specifically the fact that this horse purchased for $1,200 on the second-to-last day of the 2010 Keeneland September Yearling Sale will head postward Saturday to contest the 99th running of the $1 million Louisiana Derby and maybe even earn a spot in the Kentucky Derby.





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Wednesday, March 28 2012


Grade II New Orleans Handicap and Grade II Mervin H. Muniz Jr. Memorial Handicap


NEW ORLEANS (Tuesday, March 27, 2012) – Twin Creeks Racing Stable’s Mission Impazible, the 5-year-old defending champion from last season’s Grade II New Orleans Handicap and winner of the Grade II Louisiana Derby two years ago, is set to match strides with George and Lori Hall’s 4-year-old Pants On Fire – the hero of last year’s $1 million Louisiana Derby – in Sunday’s 86th renewal of Fair Grounds’ traditional season highlight for older horses on the main track.

The $400,000 New Orleans Handicap, for 4-year-olds and upward, is run at nine furlongs over the Crescent City oval and is the undercard highlight on Fair Grounds’ gala 14-race Louisiana Derby Day – which is also the closing day program of this 140th local racing season.





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Fair Grounds to Offer Pick 18 Friday


NEW ORLEANS (Tuesday, March 27, 2012) – Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots will offer a one-time-only Pick 18 on Friday’s gargantuan 18-race card that kicks off at 12:40 p.m. CDT and continues well into the evening. The bet will carry a 10-cent minimum and there will be no carryover, meaning the pool will be paid out to those with the most correct winners on Friday.

“This is not a joke,” said Fair Grounds Vice President & General Manager Eric Halstrom. “We ended up in a situation where we had to offer 18 races on Friday and figured we might as well have some fun with it.”





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Tuesday, March 27 2012


Mark Valeski Gets Tuesday Work for Louisiana Derby


NEW ORLEANS (Tuesday, March 27, 2012) – Brereton Jones’s Mark Valeski, one half of the favored Larry Jones-trained entry pegged at 2-1 for Sunday’s 99th running of the $1 million Louisiana Derby, breezed five furlongs in 1:00.60 Tuesday morning at Fair Grounds in final serious preparations in advance of the annual centerpiece event of the New Orleans Thoroughbred racing season.

“It was a very good morning for us (with Mark Valeski),” said the Kentucky-born trainer shortly after the move. “I got splits of 12 and three, 25 flat, 37 and two and 49 and one, and then got him galloping out in 1:13 and two. That means he did a 12 and two, another 12 and two, and then two 11 and fours, so he got the last quarter in 23 and change.”





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Mission Impazible ‘On a Mission’ for University of Kentucky


NEW ORLEANS (Monday, March 26, 2012) – When New Orleans Handicap (Gr. II) contender Mission Impazible arrives at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots on Wednesday, a set of royal blue silks will accompany him. Emblazoned with the slogan “GO BIG BLUE” on the back and with the University of Kentucky logo on the front, the silks are a departure from the ordinary for Randy Gullatt and Steve Davison’s Kentucky-based Twin Creeks Racing Stables, whose horses usually run under lime green with chocolate diamonds on front and sleeves – the colors Mission Impazible carried to victory in the 2011 New Orleans Handicap and the 2010 Louisiana Derby.

But this will be no typical weekend for Kentuckians, as the top-seeded Wildcats visit New Orleans to take on bitter rival Louisville in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four. With Kentucky scheduled to play Saturday afternoon and Mission Impazible running on Sunday, let there be no doubt as to where the Twin Creeks loyalties lie.





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Mark Valeski, Mr. Bowling Entry Favored in 14-Horse Field for Sunday’s $1 Million Louisiana Derby


NEW ORLEANS (Monday, March 26, 2012) – Brereton Jones’s highly-regarded Mark Valeski, second by a nose in Fair Grounds’ Grade II Risen Star Stakes, will run as part of a coupled wagering interest with that same owner’s Mr. Bowling, hero of the Crescent City oval’s Grade III Lecomte Stakes, in Sunday’s 99th running of the $1 million Louisiana Derby. Together, the two Larry Jones-trained sophomores have been installed as the 2-1 morning line choice in the centerpiece event of the New Orleans racing season

The 1 1/8-mile Grade II Louisiana Derby, as always a significant gauge for Triple Crown candidates, will be contested as one of 14 races – seven of which are stakes – slated for April 1 when Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots brings down the curtain on its 2011-2012 meeting.





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