(Factor This / Photo by Holly M. Smith)

From the Fair Grounds Media Team:

Trainer Brad Cox is hoping a return to Cajun Country will inspire a return to form for Factor Up, who figures to start as a solid favorite when he looks to defend his title in Saturday’s $150,000 Fair Grounds (G3) at 1 1/8 miles over the Stall-Wilson Turf Course at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots.

The Fair Grounds is one of four graded stakes on a six stakes, 13-race card dubbed Louisiana Derby Day Preview, which is highlighted by the $400,000 Risen Star (G2), presented by Lamarque Ford-Lincoln, and the $300,000 Rachel Alexandra (G2), presented by Fasig-Tipton. The Risen Star is by far the deepest and most competitive Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve (G1) prep to date and will offer a total of 85 Derby qualifying points to the top four finishers (50-20-10-5). While the Rachel Alexandra will be offered for 3-year-old fillies, with the same 85 qualifying points up for grabs for the Longines Kentucky Oaks (G1).

The Fair Grounds is also part of the “All Stakes Late Pick Five” (races 9-13) with an estimated pool of $400,000 and the “All Stakes Late Pick Four” (races 10-13) with an estimated pool of $750,000.

Gaining Ground Racing’s Factor This (post 8 at 3-1 on Mike Diliberto’s morning line, with Shaun Bridgmohan to ride) started his rise to national prominence in last year’s Fair Grounds for trainer Brad Cox, as he set the pace and posted a surprise 8-1 win. He used that score as a springboard to another local tally in the meet’s turf highlight, the Muniz Memorial (G2), then followed that up with wins in Churchill Downs’ Wise Dan (G2) and then the Kentucky Downs Preview Turf Cup at Ellis Park.

Cox went after a bigger prize after the Ellis win and Factor This ran a huge second in Churchill’s Turf Classic (G1) on the Kentucky Derby undercard in September then was a close eighth in the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) at Keeneland in November. Cox squeezed one more start in Gulfstream Park’s Fort Lauderdale in December, but Factor This was a disappointing eighth as the favorite from a wide draw. Cox is looking forward to getting back to home base and trying to get another streak started again with Factor This, who is 12-for-34 lifetime.

“He loves the turf course and hopefully he can get a good trip up front,” Cox said. “We took a shot and it didn’t work out in the Fort Lauderdale after he did a bit too much too early. We decided to back off him a little bit and hopefully he can get back into the form he was in last winter when he got really good.”

Trainer Graham Motion ships in Danceteria (post 4 at 6-1 with John Velazquez) from his Palm Meadows base in Florida and he has the look of live runner off a second in a January 13 optional-claimer at Gulfstream Park in his first start for the barn. The 6-year-old son of Redoute’s Choice (Aus) was fourth, beaten just 5 ¼ length, behind the immortal Enable (GB) in the Coral-Eclipse (G1) in July 2019 and won a group 1 in Germany later that month, but has struggled since, losing seven straight. Motion is expecting a good run off what was a very useful tightener.

“I thought he ran really well last time out and I wanted to get him started,” Motion said. “He’s a very classy horse. It’s a step up from last time but I do think the race will help. When he’s good he’s not far off the top horses, so hopefully we can see that form again.”

JPS Racing’s Logical Myth (post 6 at 9-2 with Adam Beschizza) is the best of the locals off two straight stakes wins, including the January 16 Colonel Bradley. The 5-year-old son of Data Link has done little wrong in six starts since he was claimed by trainer Joe Sharp, going 6-3-2-1. He has a big homecourt edge as well, as he’s 5-for-6 over the Stall-Wilson.

AJ Suited Racing Stable’s Dontblamerocket (post 7 at 6-1 with Miguel Mena) won the Bradley last year then was second in the Muniz for trainer Norm Casse. The 7-year-old son of Blame is 5-for-10 over the local turf but he could need a start, as he hasn’t run since finishing fifth in the Turf Classic.

Completing the Buddy Diliberto field from the rail out: Calumet Farm’s homebred Blackberry Wine (post 1 at 10-1 with Adam Beschizza), who is also cross-entered in the Louisiana (G3) in Race 10 for Sharp; Juddmonte Farms’ homebred Set Piece (GB) (post 2 at 10-1 with Florent Geroux), who enters off a win over the Tapeta in Turfway Park’s December 31 Prairie Bayou; Paradise Farms Corporation and David Staudacher’s Artie’s Rumor (post 3 at 10-1 with Brian Hernandez Jr.), fourth at Gulfstream behind Danceteria for trainer Mike Maker; Bella Cavello Stables’ Midnight Tea Time (post 5 at 12-1 for Joe Talamo), second in last year’s Bradley for Sharp; JSM Equine’s Peace Achieved (post 9 at 20-1 with Declan Carroll), fourth in the Bradley for trainer Mark Casse, Lothenbach Stable’s homebred Captivating Moon (post 10 at 15-1 Marcelino Pedroza), who is cross-entered in Colonel Power in Race 7 for trainer Chris Block; and Candie Baker’s Spectacular Gem (post 11 at 8-1 with James Graham), third in the Colonel Bradly for Baker’s husband Jimmy.

(Secret Message / Coady Photography)

Secret Message, Dalika Clash Again in Stall Memorial

Stakes Winners Run Against Each Other for Third Time at Meet

If there’s a turf stakes for the gals at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, chances are Secret Message and Dalika (Ger) are in it. They’ll renew their budding rivalry and meet for the third time at the meet when they start as two of the favorites in the $100,000 Albert M. Stall Memorial at 1 1/16 miles over the Stall-Wilson Turf Course.

The Stall is one of six stakes on a 13-race card dubbed Louisiana Derby Day Preview, which is highlighted by the $400,000 Risen Star (G2), presented by Lamarque Ford-Lincoln, and the $300,000 Rachel Alexandra (G2), presented by Fasig-Tipton. The Risen Star is by far the deepest and most competitive Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve (G1) prep to date and will offer a total of 85 Derby qualifying points to the top four finishers (50-20-10-5). While the Rachel Alexandra will be offered for 3-year-old fillies, with the same 85 qualifying points up for grabs for the Longines Kentucky Oaks (G1).

The Stall (race 9) is also part of the “All Stakes Late Pick Five” (races 9-13) with an estimated pool of $400,000, on a card that also includes an “All Stakes Late Pick Four” (races 10-13) with an estimated pool of $750,000.

Spendthrift Farm’s Secret Message (post 9 at 5-2 on Mike Diliberto’s morning line with Shaun Bridgmohan) turned the tables on Dalika last time in the Marie G. Krantz Memorial here January 16. Able to save ground before tipping out wide off the far turn, she powered clear late for trainer Brad Cox. The 6-year-old daughter of Hat Trick (Jpn) was a four-time stakes winner for trainer Graham Motion, including the Mint Julep (G3) at Churchill Downs last May, and was sent to Cox after being purchased for $625,000 Keeneland Association November Breeding Stock Sale 2020.

Secret Message, who is 6-for-20 lifetime, couldn’t reel in a loose Dalika when she was third to her in the local Blushing K.D. in December but got some pace help last time, as the latter was kept busy on the lead. The trip can make all the difference in winning and losing, and Cox is hoping for much the same in the Stall.

“She got a good trip and a good set up and that was key,” Cox said. “She was a little wide two-back and she saved a tough more ground last time and got a little better set up, as they didn’t let anyway have their own way on the lead. Hopefully she gets the same Saturday.”

Bal Mar Equine’s Dalika (post 7 at 7-2 with Miguel Mena) didn’t stop on the lead in the Blushing K.D. but she pressed in second in the Krantz and tired late to be fifth as the favorite. The 5-year-old daughter of Pastorius (Ger) is 5-for-17 lifetime but has never put wins back-to-back for trainer Al Stall Jr., who will look to win a race named after his late father, who was chairman of the Louisiana Racing Commission for 28 years. Stall left the Krantz with more questions than answers, which has been a bit of Dalika’s M.O. throughout her career.

“Look at her form, you think you’re going over with a super live horse, and she might not run her race,” Stall said. “I didn’t do anything different (since the Krantz). I trained her the way we always do. Gave her a couple of little works. We will try it again.”

West Point Thoroughbreds, Forge Ahead Stables, and Jerry Caroom’s Room to Finish (post 5 at 8-1 with Adam Beschizza) was second to Dalika in the Krantz for trainer Wayne Catalano and rates an upset look. The 6-year-old daughter of Giant Oak is 7-for-21 lifetime and has shown an affinity for the Stall-Wilson, as she’s 10-5-3-0 over it, with a state-bred stakes win in the Louisiana Ladies Turf two-back.

Silverton Hill’s homebred Pass the Plate (post 3 at 10-1 with Brian Hernandez Jr.), was an upset winner of the local December 26 Pago Hop for trainer Paul McGee. The 4-year-old daughter of Temple City was facing elders that day and rallied into a slow pace to move to 4-for-12 lifetime.

Completing the Albert M. Stall Memorial field from the rail out: Myracehorse.com’s His Glory (post 1 at 20-1 with Gabriel Saez), seventh on the main track in her seasonable debut in Oaklawn Park’s January 23 Pippin for trainer Joe Sharp; Pocket Aces Racing’s Temple City Terror (post 2 at 12-1 with Florent Geroux), sixth in the Blushing K.D. for trainer Brendan Walsh; Daniel Investment Holdings’ Mizzen Beau (post 4 at 12-1 with Joe Talamo), winner of the restricted Bison City Stakes on Woodbine’s Tapeta surface in September; Full of Run Racing’s Dreamalildreamofu (post 6 at 20-1 with Colby Hernandez), a 9 1/2-length winner of a local January 23 off-the-turf optional-claimer who is also entered Friday at Oaklawn for Cox; Steven Wilson’s Amazia (post 8 at 12-1 with Declan Carroll), off since running fourth in an optional-claimer at Churchill September 25 for Walsh; La Nora’s Joy Epifora (Arg) (post 10 at 15-1 with James Graham), a group 1 winner on the dirt in her native Argentina but unraced since running sixth in an optional-claimer at Churchill September 26 for trainer Ignacio Correas; and VinLaur Racing Stables’ Xanthique (post 12 at 12-1 with Mitchell Murrill), fourth in the Krantz for trainer Tom Morley. Trainer Graham Motion indicated Wednesday morning that he would not be shipping Al Shaqab Racing’s homebred Tuned (GB).

(Extravagant Kid / Photo by Holly M. Smith)

Extravagant Kid Goes for a Million in Colonel Power

Turf Sprint Veteran Favored Over Tough Local Crew

Extravagant Kid will look to become racing’s newest millionaire when he makes his local debut in an extremely tough renewal of the $100,000 Colonel Power. Run at 5 ½ furlongs over the Stall-Wilson Turf Course, the Colonel Power drew a field-of-9, including a quintet of turf sprint stakes winners.

The Colonel Power is Race 7 and is one of six stakes on a 13-race card dubbed Louisiana Derby Day Preview, which is highlighted by the $400,000 Risen Star (G2), presented by Lamarque Ford-Lincoln, and the $300,000 Rachel Alexandra (G2), presented by Fasig-Tipton. The Risen Star is by far the deepest and most competitive Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve (G1) prep to date and will offer a total of 85 Derby qualifying points to the top four finishers (50-20-10-5). While the Rachel Alexandra will be offered for 3-year-old fillies, with the same 85 qualifying points up for grabs for the Longines Kentucky Oaks (G1). There is also an “All Stakes Late Pick Five” (races 9-13) with an estimated pool of $400,000, and an “All Stakes Late Pick Four” (races 10-13) with an estimated pool of $750,000.

DARRS’ Extravagant Kid (post 3 at 5-2 on Mike Diliberto’s morning line with Florent Geroux to ride) has been a gem of consistency in his career for trainer Brendan Walsh, who has had him for 25 of his 48 career starts. The 8-year-old son of Kiss the Kid has basically run in any meaningful graded turf stakes over the past three years and has more than held his own, which includes a close fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) at Keeneland in November.

“He shows up every time and I think the stronger the opposition the better he runs,” Walsh said. “He was only beaten a length in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint and has been an unbelievable horse for us.”

Extravagant Kid has won 14 times and run second 15 more in his 48 races, but oddly enough none of them have come at Fair Grounds, where Walsh has the majority of his horses during the winter. Extravagant Kid has spent every winter of his life, like a lot of elder citizens, in Florida, including earlier in his career when he was with trainers Bill Kaplan and Mand Milton Wolfson. He twice ran second there this winter at Gulfstream Park, including the Sunshine Sprint on dirt January 16, when Walsh decided it was time for a change of scenery.

“I thought we’d change things up a bit and bring him to the Fair Grounds just because he’s getting a little older and to give him something else to think about mentally,” Walsh said. “He’s in great order and I think the long stretch will suit him. It’s a good race.  There are some nice horses, and he’ll have to have his running shoes on to beat them.”

Running shoes are something Extravagant Kid has always had on, as he’s won a combined eight stakes on turf and dirt in his career. Should he run second or better in the Colonel Power he’ll check off another box on an already storied career.

“To get to a million dollars, that’s pretty amazing,” Walsh said. “He’s one of those horses you wish you had a dozen of. He’s never missed a beat and he’s been in all the big ones.”

D.J. Stable, and West Point Thoroughbreds’ Turned Aside (post 5 at 4-1 with Adam Beschizza) is the polar opposite of Extravagant Kid, having run just nine times in his career. The 4-year-old son of American Pharoah won four of those starts when with trainer Linda Rice, including the Turf Sprint Championship at Aqueduct November 28. He was purchased privately January 14 for $725,000 out of a dispersal sale from the Estate of the late Paul Pompa and turned over to trainer Mark Casse. Assistant Dave Carroll oversees Casse’s Fair Grounds string and has been impressed with what he’s seen so far.”

“He had the one work with us but obviously his race card speaks for himself,” Carroll said. “Just in the short time we’ve had him, he’s a lovely horse and as Mark says, this is the logical spot to start him in. Linda did a great job with him and he came to us in great shape. We’re looking forward to getting him going and are hoping to keep up his good form.”

The two new shooters will face a deep and talented cast of locals who have a “the gang’s all here” feel to them. Susan Moulton’s Manny Wah (post 1 at 9-2 with Miguel Mena) won the local January 16 Duncan F. Kenner in his turf debut for trainer Wayne Catalano, defeating trainer Michelle Lovell and Griffon’s Farms’ homebred Just Might (post 3 at 9-2 with Colby Hernandez), who won the Colonel Power last year and was also second in the local Richard R. Scherer Memorial in December. Crawford Farms’ Racing’s Archidust (post 7 at 6-1 with Joe Talamo) won the Scherer but was just seventh as the favorite in the Kenner for trainer Steve Asmussen, but he could easily bounce back in a group that has clearly relished turning the tables on each other.

Completing the Colonel Power field from the rail out: Tamaroak Partners’ Bango (post 2 at 12-1 with Gabriel Saez), a stakes winner over the Tapeta at Turfway Park in 2020 but winless in his only turf start for trainer Greg Foley; Dale Ladner’s homebred Jack the Umpire (post 6 at 15-1 with James Graham), a close seventh going long in the local December 26 Woodchopper for trainer Brett Brinkman; Lothenbach Stable’s homebred Captivating Moon (post 8 at 12-1 with Marcelino Pedroza), who is also entered in Race 11 in the Fair Grounds (G3) for trainer Chris Block; and owner-trainer Louie Roussel’s Went West (post 9 at 12-1), who is 5-3-2-0 in his career but makes his turf debut.