The Black Gold is named in recognition of the first horse in history to capture the Louisiana Derby and parlay that score into victory in the Kentucky Derby, while the Allen LaCombe Memorial honors the memory of Allen “Black Cat” LaCombe, Fair Grounds’ revered longtime publicity director who died in 1989.
The son of Artie Schiller, installed as the tepid 7-2 morning line choice in the Black Gold, made his career bow over Arlington’s Polytrack surface last September 25 and finished second by a nose, but broke his maiden going over that same synthetic surface at Keeneland Oct. 20. After that, he won at first asking in first level allowance and $50,000 optional claiming company at Fair Grounds Dec. 8 before his wide trip in the Lecomte as the first leg of the series that concludes with the Grade II Louisiana Derby on April 1.
Jockey James Graham, the only rider Hammers Terror has ever known, will return in the irons aboard the Mike Stidham trainee in the Black Gold.
Pegged as the 9-2 second choice in Saturday’s early Black Gold line is David Randal’s Capetown Devil, who in his last start finished seventh in the Lecomte, a length and a half behind Hammers Terror. The altered son of Cape Town raced five wide that day after winning at first asking over Keeneland’s Polytrack Oct. 14, then won by four over Churchill’s main track Nov. 9 and made it three straight over Fair Grounds’ main track before tasting defeat in the Lecomte.
Louisiana native reinsman Corey Lanerie, aboard for all four of Capetown Devil’s starts, is slated for the saddle once again on the David Carroll-trained gelding who worked four furlongs in 49 flat on Monday.
Facing the top two Black Gold choices Saturday are the Raut LLC-owned coupling of Hero’s Choice and Adena’s Chance, to be ridden respectively by Kerwin Clark and Jermaine Bridgmohan; Robert Cartwright’s Alexander Thegreat, Richard Eramia; Erich Brehm and Gene Voss’s Speargun, Iram Diego; Zayat Stables’ Bravo Habibi, Brian Hernandez Jr.; Don Eberts’ Pure Tactics, Shaun Bridgmohan; Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Wayward Sailor, Shane Sellers; Woodford Racing’s Rock Harder, Robby Albarado; Fletcher and Carolyn Gray’s Icon Ike, Rosie Napravnik; and Steve Martin’s Ted’s Folly, Ramsey Zimmerman.
Pure Tactics, undefeated in two career starts – both over the local lawn – could prove dangerous to the top two considering his obvious familiarity with the grass course here. The son of grass sire Pure Prize is trained by Morris Nicks and penciled in at 6-1 in the Black Gold morning line.
CITIZEN ADVOCATE, DEVIOUS INTENT VIE IN LACOMBE MEMORIAL—Whitehall Lane Farm’s Citizen Advocate, who captured Calder’s $74,000 Catcharisingstar Stakes in his lone lifetime outing over grass, has been pegged as the lukewarm 3-1 favorite in the morning line for Saturday’s $75,000 Allen LaCombe Memorial Stakes at Fair Grounds.
Following that Miami score, Citizen Advocate won Pennsylvania’s $150,000 Presque Isle Debutante Oct. 1 and Delta’s $150,000 My Trusty Cat Stakes Oct 22 before being outdistanced in Grade III Delta Princess at that same western Louisiana oval in her most recent start Nov. 19.
Trained by South Florida-based David Vivian, the daughter of Proud Citizen will be ridden by Luis Jurado in the LaCombe Memorial.
Wayne Sanders and Larry Hirsch’s Devious Intent, second choice in the LaCombe morning line odds at 4-1, may be the one to beat. She finished second, beaten a length by Citizen Advocate in the My Trusty Cat, then was fourth in the Delta Princess, won the $75,000 Genesis at Delta Downs but was then fifth at last asking in Oaklawn’s $75,000 Martha Washington Feb. 11. Brian Hernandez Jr. rides the Bret Calhoun trainee.
Completing the Allen LaCombe Memorial field is the Stoneway Farm-owned entry of Queen Teuta and Falconess, Richard Eramia and Ramsey Zimmerman as the respective riders; Cindy and Larry Jones’s Robi Jo, Robby Albarado; Stephen Fidel and Ken Corazza’s Ithinkisawapudycat, Corey Lanerie; Keith Plaisance’s Spun Ribbon, John Jacinto; Richard, Bertram and Elaine Klein’s Miz Ida, Shaun Bridgmohan; Hinkle Farms’ Firehouse Red, Rosie Napravnik; Jack Smith and Rob Auerbach’s Rainbow Blossom, Shane Sellers; and Glencrest Farm’s Kiss in the Forest, James Graham.