“We were confident that she’d go far,” said trainer Jones in the winner’s circle following the Silverbulletday about Believe You Can’s first race around two turns. “I’ve probably trained more (Proud Citizens) than anyone,” speaking of his latest female star. “If they are good sprinting, they are better going long.”
With her Silverbulletday score, Believe You Can increased her career earnings to $187,284 with her fourth win in six lifetime starts and returned mutuels of $7, $3.20 and $2.20 following the withdrawal of Ramona Bass’s odds-on morning line favorite Applauding, owned by Ramona Bass, at scratch time Saturday morning due to a mild case of colic.
“With the key scratch out of here it set up the race a little bit differently, but I’ve been working this filly a few times and she’s really impressed me,” Napravnik said. “Larry (Jones) was telling me if she’s anything like Proud Spell, she’d be a fighter and she absolutely was. She wasn’t giving an inch.”
After setting early fractions of 23.82 and 47.98, Believe You Can accomplished the mile and 70 yard-Silverbulletday distance in 1:42.34.
Gillian Campbell et al.’s even-money favorite Summer Applause prompted the pace of the winner throughout, could not catch that one but gamely held the place, paying $2.60 and $2.10 while finishing a nose in front of Jake Ballis’s Inny Minnie, who returned $2.20 to show.
The second leg of Fair Grounds’ sophomore filly series – the Grade III Rachel Alexandra Stakes – is to be contested Feb. 25 on Louisiana Derby Preview Day.
MR. VEGAS SURVIVES INQUIRY TO WIN GRADE III BRADLEY HANDICAP – Andrews T & S Racing’s Mr. Vegas assumed an easy lead and held on to win the Grade III Colonel E.R. Bradley Handicap by 1 ½ lengths over David P. Halloway Racing’s Dubious Miss, who steadied slightly when the winner came in with a sixteenth of a mile to run, but it wasn’t enough for the stewards to change the order of finish. For older turf horses, the 1 1/16-mile Bradley kicks off a three race series that will also include the Feb. 25 Grade III Fair Grounds Handicap and the April 1 Grade II Mervin H. Muniz Memorial Handicap.
Jockey Miguel Mena piloted Mr. Vegas through fractions of 24.30, 49.41 and 1:13.84 before stopping the timer in 1:43.49. The 5-year-old Freud gelding kept his Fair Grounds record a perfect three-for-three while improving his overall record to 7-5-0 in 21 starts and increasing his career earnings to $260,331.
“I saw it again and he did come out a touch, so I wasn’t sure if it was enough to change the outcome, winning trainer Richie Scherer said after surviving a stewards’ inquiry that lasted nearly 10 minutes. “He did come out a little bit. I’m glad the stewards saw it my way.”
Mr. Vegas paid $12.40, $6.40 and $4.40, while Dubious Miss returned $8.60 and $6. Chester Miller & Patrick Dupuy’s Strike Impact was 2 ¼ lengths back in third and paid $4.80.
GANTRY NIPS CASH REFUND IN $75,000 F. W. GAUDIN MEMORIAL STAKES – Brittlyn Stable’s Gantry, winner of Fair Grounds’ $75,000 Thanksgiving Handicap by a nose on Opening Day Nov. 24, came back to win Saturday’s $75,000 F. W. Gaudin Memorial Stakes with that same margin by getting up in the last jump to foil the bid of Richard, Bertram and Elaine Klein’s Cash Refund, who won this race two years ago but also finished second by a nose to Gantry on Thanksgiving Day.
Trained by Ron Faucheux and ridden by Richard Eramia, Gantry increased his career earnings to $194,850 with his fifth victory in 10 lifetime starts, accomplished the six-furlong distance in 1:09.56 and returned mutuels of $6.40, $3.20 and $2.20.
“This horse has got a big heart and he really tries hard,” said Eramia in winner’s circle ceremonies following the race.
Cash Refund, who pressed the pace of Whispering Oaks Farm’s Joe Hollywood, gained the advantage in upper stretch, could not withstand the winner but was easily second best, finishing 5 1/4-lengths to the good of that rival, who recorded early splits of 21.61 and 44.59.
Cash Refund returned $3.20 and $2.20 and Joe Hollywood paid $2.20 to show.