(The Fair Grounds / Photo by Holly M. Smith)
From the Fair Grounds Media Team:
On Saturday March 21, Fair Grounds Race Course will host Louisiana Derby Day presented by Twinspires.com. Highlighted by the $1,000,000 Twinspires.com Louisiana Derby (G2), and the $400,000 Twinspires.com Fair Grounds Oaks (G2), two key final preps for the Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve (G1) and Longines Kentucky Oaks (G1) respectively. Louisiana Derby Day will feature eight stakes races worth in excess of $2.4 million in purse money.
(Trainer Brad Cox / Photo by Holly M. Smith)
Brad Cox, trainer of Mr.Monomoy who broke well and was able to clear the first division of the Risen Star (G2) early, taking the field wire to wire and earning 50 more points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby where he currently sits in first with a total of 52 points:
“He looked really good back in the barn,” Cox said. “He was full of himself this morning and I was very pleased with how he came back after the race and earlier this morning.”
“We’ll talk about where to go next with him,” Cox continued. “The Louisiana Derby is a logical spot but there are certainly other options with him. We’ll get him back to the track and try to make a decision in the near future and come up with a game plan. We’re going to let the dust settle and let everyone kind of catch their breath. Maybe in a week or so we will start putting together the game plan.”
Brad Cox, trainer of 2-Year-old Filly Champion British Idiom who was making her first start since her Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) triumph and finished a solid second behind Finite in the Rachel Alexandra Stakes (G2), earning 20 points giving her a total of 50 points now on the Longines Kentucky Oaks (G2) leaderboard:
“She had a little bit of a rough trip into the first turn,” Cox said. “I don’t think it was the difference between winning and losing but it did affect her a little bit. I really think she needed this race. The mile and a sixteenth distance at the Fair Grounds, especially for a 3-year-old filly coming off a layoff is really demanding. Javier (Castellano, jockey) was really pleased with her and thought that she is already maturing from a 2-year-old to a 3-year-old as far as how she acted before the race and even during the race. She was just second best yesterday, but she came back well and looked good this morning.”
“There’s really only two spots with her going forward,” Cox continued. “The Ashland (G1) at Keenland (April 4, 1 1/16th miles) and the Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) (March 21, 1 1/16th miles). She likes both racetracks, she’s moved well over this track at Fair Grounds and also has a good race over the Keenland racetrack. We’re going to let the dust settle with her as well and come up with a game plan.”
(Trainer Ken McPeek / Photo Courtesy of Keeneland)
Ken McPeek, trainer of Swiss Skydiver (10 points) who finished third in the Rachel Alexandra Stakes and Impeccable Style who finished fifth:
“Swiss Skydiver came back fine,” McPeek said. “She showed us that she’s a good filly. We wanted to find out how she would fit against this top level fillies. I’m not sure if we come back for Fair Grounds Oaks yet but we will certainly nominate and map out a plan.”
“Impeccable Style ran okay I thought,” McPeek said. “I was excited about the added distance and she actually galloped out in front.”
(Owner Chester Thomas and trainer W. Bret Calhoun / Photo by Holly M. Smith)
Bret Calhoun, who trained four horses between both divisions of the Risen Star Stakes (G2) including Digital who ran fifth in the first division:
“He came back sound and healthy, scoped clean,” Calhoun explained. “He was coming into the race really well but I just think he needed more time. In two more weeks he probably would have been a different horse and put in a different race. I think he ran a good race but the distance sort of just got to him. We’re not going to make any knee jerk decisions but I think going forward we’re going to give him more space between races and will likely shorten him up.”
“We’re going to try to get him to the Pat Day Mile (G1),” Calhoun continued. “That’s kind of what we’re looking at I just have to find the right path to get him there feeling 100 percent.”
Bret Calhoun on Mailman Money who ran fourth (5 points) in the first division of the Risen Star (G2) in what was his first try against graded stake competition in career start three:
“We’re really happy with him,” Calhoun said. “He got caught pretty wide around the first turn and then made his way down to the rail which was good but the fact is this was only his third race and I think going forward that trouble will be good for him. He learned a lot from it and got plenty of experience in just his third start. He stuck his nose in there turning for home and had a shot but just got outrun down the lane but still finished well.”
“The plan is Louisiana Derby,” Calhoun continued. “He looks good back here and hopefully he stays sound. Right now that’s where we’re looking.”
Calhoun on Mr. Big News who finished fifth in division one of the Risen Star (G2), who went into the race off a maiden win going two turns in January at Fair Grounds:
“He ran a really sneaky good race,” Calhoun said. “He’s a horse that I think has not yet got the trip I am hoping he gets. He just keeps getting shut down inside and is never really to get clear and use his stride. He’s still a little inexperienced. He’s had several races but he’s still learning. Robby (Albarado, jockey) made the comment that he was kind of in and out of it throughout the race. He wasn’t enjoying his position back there taking all the kickback. We just want to see him get that free running trip. He galloped out with the winner so looking back it was a really meaningful race for him.”
“We’re hoping we can get him to the Louisiana Derby,” Calhoun continued. “We think he can be a real factor and that race yesterday showed us a glimpse of what he could be.”
Blaine Wright, trainer of Anneau d’Or who finished ninth as the favorite in the second division of the Risen Star. Equipped with blinkers for the first time, he had a bit of a rough go into the first turn, but did very little running thereafter.
“We are going to put the Risen Star behind us and move forward,” Wright said. “I haven’t a clue why he didn’t run well, but I’m not worried about it. We’ll go back home to California, regroup, and point to the Santa Anita Derby.”
(Trainer Mark Casse / Photo Courtesy of Keeneland)
Trainer Mark Casse, whose Lecomte (G3) winner Enforceable closed into a moderate pace to finish second behind Mr. Monomoy in the first division of the Risen Star. He now has 32 Kentucky Derby points.
“I wanted him to give us two really big efforts in a row and I thought he did,” Casse said. “He had everything kind of against him yesterday, but he was still able to run well. He made a couple of different moves and still finished with plenty of acceleration. I think that kind of experience will help him down the road. With 32 Derby points, we’re in good shape with him.”
Trainer Mark Casse, who’s Lynn’s Map was compromised at the start of the first division of the Risen Star before rallying late to finish a respectable sixth.
“I honestly didn’t notice it right away because it was kind of hard to see, but he got sandwiched pretty good, in fact he took some hide off of his lateral outside right front,” Casse said. “He obviously got back a little further than we had anticipated. But he made a big run. Corey (jockey Lanerie) was extremely pleased with him. He said he got stopped and lost his momentum and that if he had gotten a break or two, he would’ve been right there. The pace wasn’t exceptionally fast and he still closed, so that’s good. The extra time off between races should help him. If Lynn’s Map can make it to the Derby, he will love a mile and a quarter. We just need a little luck.”
“I said this last year with War of Will, with six weeks between the Louisiana Derby and the Kentucky Derby, if you have a little hiccup, you can still be okay. Last year with War of Will, it turned out we were lucky because we needed the extra time after he got hurt a little bit in the Louisiana Derby. A lot of these horses are still trying to make their first start of the year and they are all playing catch up. We’re not playing catch up. We are quite happy where we are at with both of our horses.”
(Trainer Greg Foley / Photo Courtesy of Churchill Downs)
Trainer Greg Foley, whose Major Fed finished second in the second division of the Risen Star, earning Kentucky Derby points in the process.
“I thought my horse ran great,” Foley said. “From the eighth pole on in, I thought we had a chance to win it. Speed was holding pretty darn good and that worked against us. He came out of the race good. Looked good. Ate up. Knock on wood. We will just get him ready for next one. Extra distance isn’t any question for our horse. Leparoux rides Casse’s horse (Enforceable), so we may have to find a new rider. Nothing’s come up about it yet. It was exciting. We’ve liked the horse all along and he showed up and proved himself. He belongs with them, anyway.”