Fair Grounds Barn Notes: Winter Sunset Tackles Stakes Company / Dream Maker Returns on Saturday

(Winter Sunset breaking the maiden at the Fair Grounds earlier this meet / Hodges Photography & Courtesy of the Fair Grounds)

By Ryan Martin, Fair Grounds Media Team:


Royally bred horses are met with high expectations and Winter Sunset did not disappoint with an easy maiden win in her career debut over the Stall-Wilson Turf Course back in November. The 3-year-old daughter of Tapit will be on track for a stakes victory in the $60,000 Shantel Lanerie Memorial Overnight Stakes this Saturday.

Trained by Wayne Catalano and owned by Coffeepot Stables and Phillips Racing Partnership, Winter Sunset is out of the two-time Grade I winning broodmare Winter Memories whose dam Memories of Silver also won two Grade I races on grass. In her maiden victory, Winter Sunset broke sharply out of the gate, set the pace and kicked clear to win by 4¼ lengths under a hand ride.

Winter Sunset will face a tough test in the Shantel Lanerie Memorial Overnight Stakes with presence of graded stakes winner Elsa, who won the Grade III Jimmy Durante Stakes at Del Mar last November for trainer Michael Stidham.

“We get to test her on the second race pretty early,” Catalano said. “Stidham has a legit stake horse in there that already won a stake. I know it’s early but if you win a stake you win a stake. It’s a good spot for us to try and see where we’re at with her. We don’t have to ship which is nice.”

Winter Sunset will be guided by jockey Channing Hill and breaks from post two at 3-1 odds.

The Shantel Lanerie Memorial Overnight Stakes is named in honor of the late wife of jockey Corey Lanerie, who passed away following a battle with breast cancer in June 2018. She held several positions at the racetracks while her husband was race riding including serving as a tab writer with the clocker at Lone Star Park, a mutuel clerk at Fair Grounds and a photographer’s assistant at Churchill Downs.

(Trainer Make Casse trains Dream Maker / Photo Courtesy of Keeneland)


John Oxley’s Dream Maker was thought highly of by his connections early on  but was not able to put everything together when asked to step up to Grade I company. Freshened and refocused, the 3-year-old son of Tapit will look to get his sophomore campaign started the right way in a Saturday allowance race on the Fair Grounds main track.

Trained by Mark Casse, Dream Maker was a three-length winner of his career debut at Churchill Downs on June 7 over eventual stakes-placed Fluminense and eventual dual stakes winner Alwaysmining.  Following a green fifth-place effort in the Grade I Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga, he raced in the Grade I Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity Stakes as the post time favorite but broke poorly out the gate and finished 12th.

Dream Maker arrived at Casse’s Fair Grounds division at the beginning of the year from and has recorded four works since then, the most recent of which was a half-mile breeze in 49.80.

“The horse is training very well,” said David Carroll, who oversees Casse’s Fair Grounds division. “He’s one that we’ve always held in high esteem and just little 2-year-old stuff held us off. The Futurity was a throw out last year. He stumbled badly at the gate. He was a little rank, the race was a throw out. He came to us from the farm in great shape. He’s trained great here so we’re looking forward to getting him started. How comes out of the race and how he runs will determine where we go from there with him.”

A Kentucky homebred, Dream Maker is a full-brother to Grade I winner on turf Dream Dancing. Both are out of the unraced Monarchos broodmare To Dream About, who is out of six-time Grade I winner and Eclipse Award winner Beautiful Pleasure.

Dream Maker is the 9-5 favorite for Saturday’s race, which will be contested at a mile-and-a-sixteenth over the main track. He will be ridden by Florent Geroux.

(War of Will winning the LeComte Stakes / Photo by Holly M. Smith)


Fields for the six stakes events on Louisiana Derby Preview Day Presented by Lamarque Ford (Saturday, February 16) are beginning to take shape. Possible entrants for the sextet of races are as follows:

Grade II $400,000 Risen Star Stakes: War of Will, Country House, Hog Creek Hustle, Owendale, Frolic More, Chase the Ghost, Plus Que Parfait, Limonite, Wicked Indeed and Mr. Money

Grade II $200,000 Rachel Alexandra Stakes: Positive Spirit, Liora, Oxy Lady, Needs Supervision, Bell’s the One, Molto Bella, Eres Tu and Street Band

Grade III $150,000 Mineshaft Handicap: Quip, Flameaway, Phat Man, Silver Dust, Harlan Punch, Ballard High and Imperative

Grade III $150,000 Fair Grounds Handicap: Synchrony, Bandua, Big Changes, First Premio and Sun Lover (GB)

$75,000 Albert M. Stall Memorial Stakes: Beau Recall (Ire.), Top Cats (Arg.), Coachwhip, Coffee Crush, Promise of Spring and Silhouette

$75,000 Colonel Power Stakes: Adonis Creed, Kid Perfect, Latent Revenge and Wings Locked Up



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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