Wednesday, April 25 2012

141st Thoroughbred Racing Season to Open Thanksgiving Day

NEW ORLEANS (Wednesday, April 25, 2012) – The 141st Thoroughbred Racing Season at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots will encompass 84 live racing days, from Nov. 22, 2012 to March 31, 2013. The dates were approved at Monday’s quarterly meeting of the Louisiana State Racing Commission.

The Thoroughbred Racing Season again starts with the traditional Thanksgiving Day opener on Nov. 22. In the only significant change from last season’s schedule, racing will be conducted four days per week (except holiday weeks), Thursdays to Sundays, through February. In March racing expands to five days per week, Wednesdays to Sundays. In recent years the season started with five-day weeks before shifting to four-day weeks.

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Thursday, April 05 2012

Nates Mineshaft Named Horse of the Meet, Other Meet Honors Announced

NEW ORLEANS (Thursday, April 5, 2012) – Windy Hill Farms’ Nates Mineshaft, winner of the $400,000 New Orleans Handicap (Gr. II) and the $125,000 Mineshaft Handicap (Gr. III), was named Horse of the Meet for the recently concluded 140th Thoroughbred Racing Season at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots.

“He likes this track,” trainer Austin Smith said following the New Orleans Handicap. “When I first got him, I didn’t train him hard. A lot of work has been done on him and he’s really changed a lot. I’m happy for the horse. He’s turned into a monster since he’s been down here.”

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Monday, April 02 2012

N.O. ‘Cap, Muniz, Costa Rising and Bayou St. John

NEW ORLEANS (Sunday, April 01, 2012) – Windy Hill Farms’ Nates Mineshaft dominated what was billed as one of the deepest renewals of the Grade II New Orleans Handicap and beat the last two Louisiana Derby winners in the process, drawing off to a 7 1/4-length win in track record time.

Despite setting solid fractions of 23.21 and 46.86 in the 1 1/8-mile race, Nates Mineshaft and jockey Jesse Campbell cruised through six furlongs in 1:11.18 while a length in front and never tired, opening up in the stretch and leaving the highly regarded field in his wake. Twin Creeks Racing Stables’ favored Mission Impazible (the 2010 Louisiana Derby and 2011 New Orleans Handicap winner) finished second, 3 ½ lengths in front of Dianne D. Cotter’s Toby’s Corner.

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Boubon Courage On Cusp of Brave New World

NEW ORLEANS (Sunday, April 1, 2012) – What can be made of Bourbon Courage?

In the case of the fast-developing 3-year-old son of Lion Heart owned by Bourbon Lane Stable and Wayne Lynn, the jury is still out, but a spark that has already developed into a warm winter fire at Fair Grounds this season may become a roaring blaze before summer arrives.

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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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