(Mr. Monomoy nipped at the wire in sloppy prep for the Lecomte Stakes / Photo by Holly M. Smith)

From the Fair Grounds Media Team:

The Santa Super Saturday card at Fair Grounds Racecourse featured six stakes races, but it was a two-turn allowance for 2-year-olds that may have been St. Nick’s greatest gift of all.

Over a racetrack that was sloppy all day, race 13 on the 14-race card had the look of a prep for the “Road to The Derby Kickoff Day (January 18)” Lecomte Stakes (G3), and it may have exceeded expectations. Run at 1 mile & 70 yards, Hrh Prince Sultan Bin Mishal Al Saud’s Lynn’s Map needed every yard of that to run down Mr. Monomoy, a half brother to 2018 Kentucky Oaks (G1) and Breeders’ Cup Distaff winner Monomoy Girl.

The Mark Casse-trained son of Liam’s Map entered Saturday’s assignment off a maiden breaking score last out at Churchill Downs in early November. He was sent to post as the 3/1 third choice with Corey Lanerie aboard.

Forced out at the break, Lynn’s Map found a good spot stalking the leaders mid-pack through the early stages of the race. Turning for home, Mr.Monomy, who was in a perfect, pressing positon throughout, gave Florent Geroux another gear, opening up a clear one length lead. Just when it looked like he was beaten, Lynn’s Map who made up all the ground late in the stretch and powered home for a head victory over Mr. Monomy in a final time of 1:45.09.

“We were a little bit afraid once Mr. Monomoy opened up that we weren’t going to get it,” Casse’s assistant David Carroll said after the race. “But Corey [Lanerie] said he really accelerated and rode through the wire and I’m glad we got the win. I think this race will turn out to be a very important race.”

Both Lynn’s Map and Mr. Monomoy were making their two-turn debuts.

“This horse is only going to get better,” Carroll said of Lynn’s Map. “He looked terrific in the paddock today and we are just very proud of him. A few of our 2-year-olds were late getting to the party so to speak. Now they are just getting their maidens broken and are bred to be nice horses. Where we are going next is up to Mark (trainer Casse) and the owners to decide.”

Mr. Monomy was making his stakes debut for trainer Brad Cox after an impressive maiden win at second asking at Churchill Downs.

“He had a perfect trip, just a little disappointed we couldn’t get it done today,” trainer Brad Cox said. “We’ll see how he comes out of this race. I think there is a little bit of a question mark on how far the horse wants to go. No excuses, just hoping he moves forward off of this and see if he can take us where we are hoping to go.”

 

Recaps of all six Santa Super Saturday Stakes to follow:

 

Race 3: $75,000 Letellier Memorial Stakes (6 furlongs, 2yo fillies)

Juddmonte Farms Inc’s 0.40 cent on the dollar favorite Taraz broke sharply and took command early before sprinting away from the field late to take the $75,000 Letellier Memorial Stakes by 11 ¼ lengths. The final time for six furlongs in the slop was 1:10.83. Urusla was second and Sweet Kisses checked in third.

The Brad Cox trained 2-year-old daughter of Into Mischief is now a perfect two for two with purse earnings of just over $99,000. Florent Geroux, who was aboard for the filly’s impressive debut win at Churchill, guided her to victory once again in what was the first of six stakes races held on the Santa Super Saturday card in New Orleans.

“She felt great underneath me,” Geroux said following the race. “One of the best horses I’ve been on feeling what I had underneath me. We’ve liked her from the beginning and sometimes you don’t know how they will perform in the afternoon, especially with an off track like today, but she handled it perfect. The goal is to stretch her out and run her long, we just wanted to sprint her one more time and give her a race. She’s a big beautiful filly and is well-bred so we have high hopes for her.”

Mt Brilliant Stable Llc and Orin Ingram’s Ursula, who trainer Mike Stidham opted to run in the Letellier rather than an allowance earlier in the card, finished an honest second in only her third career start and first in stakes company,

“My horse broke good,” jockey Mitchell Murill said of Ursula . “I was sitting off of a winner that was very much the best. My horse ran well, though she didn’t love or hate the mud. She just ran her race. If Taraz wasn’t in there, she would’ve run a winning race so I’m proud of her.”

 

Race 7: $75,000 Bonapaw Stakes (5 ½ furlongs off the turf, 3yo & up)

Michael M Hui, Hooties Racing LLC and WSS Racing LLC’s Pete’s Play Call grinded his way to victory in the $75,000 Bonapaw Stakes which was washed off the turf and run at 5 ½ furlongs on the sloppy Fair Grounds main track.

The 6-year-old son of Munnings now owns a career record of 32-8-6-6 with earnings of $401,276.

The Mike Maker trainee broke alertly with jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. and sat just behind the pace of: 22.32 for the quarter and :46.25 seconds for the opening half mile. Turning for home, Pete’s Play Call took over and was set down for the run home, powering away to win by 2 ½ lengths, and stopping the clock in 1:04.38 at odds of 3/1. Wilbo checked in second and Star of Kodiak finished third.

“He broke really sharp,” Santana Jr. said after the win. “He surprised me with how quick he was out of the gate. He put himself in a great spot and I just had to sit there on him and be a good passenger.”

Seasoned veteran Wilbo, making his 37th career start, put up a fight with Pete’s Play Call down the stretch before getting tired late with jockey Corey Lanerie aboard,

“He had a good trip,” Lanerie said of Wilbo. “He sat in behind the speed and when I took him out he gave me his run, but today just wasn’t good enough to get past the winner.”

Race 9: $75,000 Blushing K. D. Stakes (1 1/16th miles off the turf, 3yo & up, fillies and mares)

In a race that was washed off the turf and moved over to the sloppy main track, Stonehaven Steading LLC’s Notapradaprice took command from the get go and was never seriously challenged, wiring the field in the $75,000 Blushing K. D. Stakes. The 5-year-old daughter of Paddy O’ Prado cruised to a 6 ½ length win, covering the 1 1/16th miles in a final time of 1:45.88. Stave finished second and Avie’s Mineshaft checked in third.

The Eddie Kenneally trained mare now boasts a career record of 28-9-7-3 with earnings of $508,150.

“She broke really good from the gate,” jockey Corey Lanerie said. “I was told to put her in the race and she ended up on the lead and had a nice stride. I was a little worried about how much I was going to have left in the stretch, but (as it turned out) she was just the best horse today.”

In her first start over an off track, the Larry Jones trained Stave put in a solid second place finish.

“She ran huge,” runner up jockey Gabriel Saez said. “I was expecting her to run well today. We didn’t get lucky to get in the front like I wanted her to so we kind of sat just behind. The winner was gone, we were never going to catch her. All and all she ran a huge race and I was happy with her.”

Race 10: $75,000 Sugar Bowl Stakes (6 furlongs, 2yo’s)

A short, but very talented field of 2-year-olds were sent to post for the $75,000 Sugar Bowl Stakes run at six furlongs on a sloppy main track and it was Mike Mccarty’s Gold Street who walked away with the victory.

Trainer Steve Asmussen, who now stands at 999 career stakes wins, sent Gold Street to post with first call rider Ricardo Santana Jr. Following a perfect, pressing trip, the son of Street Boss took command and opened up at the top of the stretch en route to a 3 ½ length victory. The even money favorite stopped the clock in 1:11.20. Amongst was second, Axiomo finished third.

“He’s a sharp horse that always breaks well,” Santana Jr. explained. “The track today is holding speed so I wanted to let him break and put us in a good spot near the leaders. He’s improving every day. He ran a good race at Keenland and then went to Churchill and broke his maiden really nice. Today he just put us in a good spot and got the job done.”

Gold Street has now won two of his five lifetime races with earnings of $132,968.

Off a second place finish in an allowance race at Indiana Grand, Amongst pleased jockey Florent Geroux with his performance,

“He ran great, just not as good as the winner,” Geroux said. He ran a good second and we are proud of him.”

Race 11: $75,000 Buddy Diliberto Memorial Stakes (1 1/16th miles off the turf, 3yo &up)

Lothenbach Stables Inc’s Captivating Moon sat near the back of the pack early before making a powerful move going into the turn and holding on late crossing the line to score a 1 ¾ length victory in an “off the turf” edition of the $75,000 Buddy Diliberto Memorial Stakes. Captivating Moon stopped the clock in 1:45.82 for 1 1/16 miles. Space Mountain was second and Factor This finished third.

The Chris Block trained 4-year-old son of Malibu Moon earned his first win over the New Orleans oval. Placed in multiple graded stakes, Captivating Moon earned his first career added money win ($390,609 career earnings) in the Buddy Diliberto with jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. aboard, who one day earlier bagged his 2,000th career win. Captivating Moon was cross entered in the Tenacious Stakes, but when the Diliberto got washed off the turf, the connections opted for this spot.

“He felt really good under me he was getting over the track really nice,” Hernandez Jr. said after the win. He came out of those two really good allowance races at Churchill Downs and we thought after the scratches we were the best horse in the race so I’m glad we got the job done.”

Jockey Corey Lanerie was aboard Space Mountain who nearly ran down the leader late.

“My horse ran good,” Lanerie said. “Turning for home I had him in striking distance. I thought I was going to run him down but we just couldn’t get to him today.”

Race 12: $75,000 Tenacious Stakes (1 mile 70 yds, 3yo &up)

Claimed for $150,000 out of his last start by trainer Robertino Diodoro on behalf of owners Lawrence P. Roman, Heads Up Racing and Lucky Dog Stables, Pioneer Spirit paid immediate dividends in winning the $75,000 Tenacious Stakes over a sloppy 1 mile & 70 yards.

Always in striking position behind the pacesetting Tringale, Pioneer Spirit wrestled the lead away at the top of the stretch under David Cohen, and then fended off the late charge of the favorite Blended Citizen to win by a diminishing head in a final time of 1:44.09. Lone Sailor checked in third.

“We got a good trip just right outside of the speed,” Cohen said following the win. “He had to dig in late but showed a lot of heart and I was really happy with the way he performed. The track was playing to early pace so I wanted to be in a good spot. This is the horse I came in to ride (only mount of the day). When it works out this way it’s always good. I think there’s a stake for him opening day at Oaklawn, so I’m looking forward to that.”

“He (Blended Citizen) ran a great race and it was a tough beat,” said Florent Geroux, who rode the runner-up. “We were getting to the winner, I needed one more jump.”

For the entire day’s charts, courtesy of Equibase, click here.