Winners, also-rans exit Louisiana Derby Preview Day in good order
Edited Press Release
The sextet of stakes winners from Saturday’s six-stakes card at Fair Grounds have all resurfaced well on Sunday morning, according to their conditioners.
Gun Runner, winner of the Risen Star (G2), is in good shape and came out well, according to trainer Steve Asmussen. The son of Candy Ride will now march on to the $1 million TwinSpires.com Louisiana Derby (G2) on March 26.
Asmussen also added that $60,000 Duncan F. Kenner S. winner Cinco Charlie was also well after his 2 3/4-length gate-to-wire win. The son of Indian Charlie won his seventh stakes event and his second at Fair Grounds following the 2014 Sugar Bowl.
Trainer Tom Amoss was upbeat on Sunday morning following the shocking 74-1 upset of the TwinSpires.com Rachel Alexandra (G2) with Venus Valentine. The daughter of Congrats has reportedly exited her effort well and will move on to the $400,000 TwinSpires.com Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) on March 26.
Mo Tom, who appeared to be making a winning move when he had to check badly and suffered a minor gash to his right front leg, was also in good shape on Sunday morning. The Lecomte (G3)-winning son of Uncle Mo will move on to the Louisiana Derby for a second shot at Gun Runner.
“Both horses look good today,” Amoss reported. “(The gash on Mo Tom) is a non factor. We are very fortunate.”
Risen Star beaten 8-5 favorite Airoforce exited his poor showing in good order and has returned to Florida for conditioner Mark Casse. Finishing 10th of 11, it was the Colonel John colt’s first poor effort in five career starts, including two graded stakes victories and a Breeders’ Cup placing.
“He’s fine and he flew back to Florida this morning,” Casse said. “We’re going to bring him home to Ocala and go over him some more and make sure we don’t find anything. We will see how that goes and go from there.”
Trainer Brad Cox once again had a big day on the Stall-Wilson turf course, while also proving that his grass affinity was not a mere New Orleans phenomena. The conditioner won both turf stakes on the card – the Fair Grounds H. (G3) with Chocolate Ride and Daisy Devine S. with Cash Control – while also taking the $75,000 Melody of Colors S. at Gulfstream Park with Cash Control’s half-sister Cash Back.
“Both Chocolate Ride and Cash Control look good today,” Cox said. “I’m really pleased with both. All winter (Chocolate Ride) has maintained himself really well. He definitely didn’t regress today and looks as good as he did yesterday morning.
“It was a really positive day with both fillies,” Cox continued. “It was kind of cool to win with the two sisters in the same hour at two different tracks. Cash Control ran big came out in good order and the ($50,000 New Orleans Ladies) is on the radar for her.”
The New Orleans Ladies is an overnight stakes recently added to the Fair Grounds schedule and will be contested at 1 1/16 miles on the Stall-Wilson turf course for older fillies and mares on the Louisiana Derby undercard.
Trainer Paul McGee was very pleased with the effort of his veteran Majestic Harbor, who gutted out his first stakes victory since the Gold Cup at Santa Anita (G1) in the summer of 2014 when taking Saturday’s Mineshaft H. (G3). The eight-year-old son of Rockport Harbor made all the running and then held off a game Eagle by a head.
“He checks out really good today and came out fine,” McGee said. “He really ran hard, dug in and showed a lot of gameness. He just keeps chugging along. He’s a very sound horse which obviously helps – knock on wood. He’s been a sound horse his whole career.
“He pretty much shows up every time, but you can draw a line through (his fifth-placing in the Louisiana S.) with his trip. He has the back-class for sure and is now coming up on a million dollars (in earnings).
“The ($400,000 New Orleans H. [G2] on March 26) is very likely,” McGee added.
While the stakes action garnered most of the attention on Saturday at Fair Grounds, a 29-1 upset debut win by Lough Ness also produced some buzz.
The dark bay daughter of Quality Road closed from four lengths back in fourth in the nine-filly field and won by a hard-fought length over a tough foe in Modify. It was another 6 1/4 lengths back to third. Jesus Castanon was aboard for the win.
“She looks great today,” trainer James Baker said. “It was a perfect trip. She broke a tad slow, but with the quick pace, she was sitting back there by her lonesome and that enabled her to relax and check things out. She finished well, ran straight and didn't swerve with right and left-handed.
“She had some pretty good works and almost had a bullet the other day,” Baker continued. “Then she went in 1:01 by herself for five furlongs which is pretty good for a young filly. Everyone in the race loved their horse, so it was nice to get the win over some good fillies.”
Out of the Lemon Drop Kid mare Lough Derg, Lough Ness is a three-year-old March foal and hails from the family of Grade 1 winners Fabulous Notion, Cacoethes and Fabulously Fast. Her pedigree offers a unique amalgam of turf, dirt, sprint and route influences.
“Quality Road was a good horse on the dirt, but I am guessing by just looking at her, surface won’t be a problem,” Baker said. “She’ll stretch out, but I’d love to run her one more time sprinting before the end of the Fair Grounds meet, if it goes.
“She was very professional in the paddock and even more relaxed than when she schooled,” he continued. “That’s always nice to see. I have had some good horses in the past, so it’s nice to have a good horse win for you.”
Gun Runner photo courtesy of Amanda Hodges Weir/Hodges Photography
Venus Valentine photo courtesy of Lou Hodges Jr./Hodges Photography