Fair Grounds Barn Notes: Plus Que Parfait Pointed to Lecomte Stakes

(Brendan Walsh trains Plus Que Parfait / Hodges Photography & Courtesy of the Fair Grounds)

By Ryan Martin, Fair Grounds Media Team:

LECOMTE CONTENDER PLUS QUE PARFAIT NEVER FAR FROM WALSH’S SIGHT

Trainer Brendan Walsh doesn’t place just any horse right across from his Fair Grounds office in Stall 26; he wants one that is held in high regard for him to keep a close eye on. So the fact that Grade III $200,000 Lecomte Stakes contender Plus Que Parfait is placed there should speak volumes of how much Walsh thinks of the horse.

Owned by DARRS Inc., the son of Point of Entry occupies the area that was once home to the likes of three-time graded stakes winner Scuba and two-time Fair Grounds winner Redesdale and Walsh acknowledges that he has some tough shoes to fill.

“It’s a high pressure stall,” Walsh said. “Any year I’ve been down here I always had nice horses in that stall. It’s nice to be able to look up from my desk at him. I definitely would want a good horse of mine to be in there.”

Walsh believes Plus Que Parfait is just that and he has already proved that he is going down the right path with a runner-up finish behind Signalman in the Grade II Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes in November where he acquired four points on Churchill Downs’ Road To The Kentucky Derby. The Lecomte awards the Top 4 finishers qualifying points towards the Grade I $3 million Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve based off of a 10-4-2-1 scale.

The Lecomte is run at a distance of a mile and 70 yards and Plus Que Parfait possesses plenty of experience going two turns having done so in three of his four career starts. He broke his maiden third time out over next out winners Harvey Wallbanger and Cutting Humor at Keeneland going a mile-and-a-sixteenth.

“It’s always been an advantage,” Walsh said of the two-turn experience. “It looks like he’s good enough. He seems to like this track. He’s worked well on it and I believe that the long stretch will suit him. Just like any of them this time of year, he still has a lot of questions to answer, but I think he’s a pretty nice horse. There’s plenty of stamina in his pedigree.”

Plus Que Parfait is out of the Awesome Again broodmare Belvedera whose dam is graded stakes winning mare Forever Land. Oracle Bloodstock purchased him for $135,000 from the Keeneland September Yearling Sale in 2017, where he was consigned by Vinery Sales.

“He’s doing well and it looks like he’s very healthy,” Walsh said. “I saw a photo of him the other day from last September and psychically he looks twice the horse now that he was then.”

Jockey Julien Leparoux will ship to Fair Grounds to ride Plus Que Parfait in the Lecomte Stakes.

“He rode him in the Kentucky Jockey Club and said he was keen to stay on him,” Walsh said.

Racing on the same day for Walsh and DARRS Inc. in the $75,000 Louisiana Stakes is Honorable Duty, who is unbeaten over the Fair Grounds main track in three career starts, all of which took place against stakes company.

The 7-year-old gelded son of Distorted Humor was named Horse of the Meet following the 2016-17 season after gathering up victories in the Tenacious Stakes, Grade III Mineshaft Handicap and Grade II New Orleans Handicap. Although, he has not raced at Fair Grounds since then, he has not lost his competitive nature having won or placed in six of his last nine starts. These include back-to-back runner-up finishes in the Grade I Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs as well as a victory in the Grade III Lukas Classic at the Louisville oval in 2017. He was third in this year’s Lukas Classic behind multiple Grade I winner Mind Your Biscuits. onorable Duty

“He’s doing great, he loves it here,” Walsh said. “Last year, we brought him back from injury and sent him down here to train about six weeks before the meet ended because he did so well here the year before. He came back this year and I think he is as good as he was the year before. He was third in the Lukas which was a tough, tough race this year. If he does well next Saturday, we’ll go to the Mineshaft and hopefully the New Orleans Handicap.”

Honorable Duty is out of the unraced A.P. Indy broodmare Mesmeric, whose dam is iconic broodmare Toussaud – the mother of Grade I winners Chester House, Honest Lady and Chiselling as well as prolific stallion Empire Maker. He was purchased for $130,000 from Mill Ridge Farm’s consignment barn at the Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale in 2015.

The horse broke well today,” Gaffalione said. “I had the horse inside, Dunph, going to the lead and then (Gun It) showed a little bit of speed. When I saw they were intent on going I just tried to get him back and got him to relax. He came back to me nicely and settled well down the backside. Got a little keen going into the far turn and wanted to move a little early. But I didn’t want to take too much away from him so I tried to sit as long as I could. He was waiting on horses down the lane but I kept him at task and there was plenty of horse there.”

“Mark (Casse, the trainer) and his team have done a great job,” Gaffalione said. “They’ve had a ton of confidence in this horse the whole way. It’s just an honor to be able to ride the horse. He’s just so professional, trains great and he’s a pleasure to be around.”

Tyler Gaffalione, Rode of War of Will to victory in the G2 Risen Star Stakes at the Fair Grounds

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