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.
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.”
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.”
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.
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.
Monday, March 26 2012
Summer Applause Top Choice in Fair Grounds Oaks
NEW ORLEANS (Sunday, March 25, 2012) – Gillian Campbell, Greenwood Lodge Farm and R Group Management’s Summer Applause, heroine of Fair Grounds’ Grade III Rachel Alexandra Stakes in her last start Feb. 25, has been installed as a solid 8-5 morning line favorite for Saturday’s Grade II Fair Grounds Oaks Presented by Susan G. Komen, sister race to the coming weekend’s $1 million Louisiana Derby on April 1.
As the showcase race for sophomore fillies each winter in New Orleans, four of the last seven Fair Grounds Oaks winners have gone on to win the Kentucky Oaks later in the spring during Kentucky Derby Week at Churchill Downs.
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.”
“Fillies, Fashion & Fizz Presented by Macy’s” Returns On Louisiana Derby Day, April
NEW ORLEANS (Sunday, March 25, 2012) – The arrival of spring means it’s time to dust off your hats and seersuckers. Fillies, Fashion & Fizz Presented by Macy’s®, the decadent afternoon for stylish 21st century Southern belles and dandies, returns to Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots on Louisiana Derby Day, April 1. The upscale day at the races includes champagne, a Spring Fashion Show by Macy’s®, hat and ensemble contests with cash prizes and more.
Here’s a look at the day’s schedule of events:
Sunday, March 25 2012
Speedacious, Inspired Dead Heat in Happy Ticket
NEW ORLEANS (Saturday, March 24, 2012) – Carl Moore Management’s Speedacious and Peter Blum Thoroughbreds’ Inspired, first and second choices respectively in Saturday’s $75,000 Happy Ticket Stakes, dead-heated for the win in the 5 1/2-furlong sprint for older fillies and mares that was transferred to the main track following heavy rains earlier in the week.
Inspired made the pace with splits of 22.37 and 45.26 while Speedacious, away tardily, got her head in front in the late stages but could not sustain the advantage when Inspired launched her second bid.
New Orleans ‘Cap and Muniz Memorial ‘Cap Probables; Saturday’s Louisiana Derby Works
NEW ORLEANS (Saturday, March 24, 2012) – Twin Creeks Racing Stable’s Mission Impazible, 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 meet George and Lori Hall’s Pants On Fire, hero of last season’s $1 million Louisiana Derby in the upcoming battle for the 2012 New Orleans Handicap to be run April 1.
This year’s $400,000 New Orleans Handicap will again be run on Louisiana Derby Day, which also is Closing Day of Fair Grounds’ 2011-2012 racing season.
Friday, March 23 2012
Hurricane Bluff Blows Away Rivals in Friday Feature
NEW ORLEANS (Friday, March 23, 2012) – Chad White’s Hurricane Bluff, away alertly and quickly in command, made the pace throughout in Friday’s $41,000 allowance and $30,000 optional claiming sprint for accredited Louisiana-bred sophomores and proved 2 1/2-lengths the best at the wire.
The winner, trained by Frank Trosclair and ridden by Shane Sellers, toured the six furlongs in 1:10.12 after setting early fractions of 21.65 and 45.17, increased his career earnings to $54,060 with his second win in three lifetime starts and returned mutuels of $10.20, $5.20 and $3.80.
Latest Louisiana Derby and Fair Grounds Oaks Probables
NEW ORLEANS (Friday, March 23, 2012) – As Godolphin Racing updates its Alpha board with that son of Bernardini now headed to New York for his next start (but still not entirely out of the local picture), the field of promising of 3-year-olds now expected for Fair Grounds’ $1 million Louisiana Derby April 1 continues to expand while including some new very strong possibilities.
Jake Ballis’s Cigar Street, a dominant 13 3/4-length maiden winner earlier this month, galloped Friday morning instead of breezing as planned due to bad weather. Trainer Steve Margolis said Cigar Street would now work Saturday in his first set after the renovation break, which ends at 8:30 a.m. Margolis will not be present for the move, as he’ll be en route to Turfway Park in Kentucky, where his 3-year-old filly Toxis, owned by Dixiana Farms, is set to contest the Grade III Bourbonette Oaks. A decision on Cigar Street’s status for the Grade II Louisiana Derby will be made after Margolis returns to New Orleans.\