(Mr. Monomoy / Photo by Holly M. Smith)

From the Fair Grounds Media Team:

We’re feasting on stakes, six of them to be exact, on Santa Super Saturday at Fair Grounds Racecourse, but you’ll want to stick around for dessert.

Race 13 of 14 on Saturday is carded as a first-level optional claimer for 2-year-olds, but in reality, it’s a major stepping stone to the Lecomte (G3), to be run as part of “Road to Derby Kickoff” on January 18, 2020.

The headliner and 3/1 morning line favorite is Madaket Stables LLC, Michael Dubb and Doheny Racing Stable’s Mr. Monomoy. Trained by Brad Cox, he is a half-brother to 2018 Kentucky Oaks (G1) and Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) winner Monomoy Girl. Although he might get the lion’s share of the attention on social media and in the win pool, there are several others with aspirations beyond Saturday. Including Spendthrift Farm’s Sharecropper for Al Stall Jr., and a pair of Casse trainees – John Oxley’s Race Driver and HRH Prince Sultan Bin Mishal Al Saud’s Lynn’s Map.

“It’s what gets me out of bed early in the morning,” Mark Casses’s top assistant David Carroll said Thursday morning. “We train for great owners and it’s a privilege to train these young horses with this kind of potential. You dream about the (Kentucky) Derby and having horses good enough to get there and it’s always exciting this time of year. For me personally working for Mark (Casse) we’re in this position every year because of his hard work and our owners giving us the privilege to train horses with this talent.”

“I have a lot of respect for Mr.Monomy and obviously we all know who his sister is,” Carroll continued. “Sharecropper, I know is held in high regards and the connections are very high on him so it’s going to be a really interesting race and give us a good idea of where we stand with these horses (Race Driver and Lynn’s Map).”

 Race Driver (5/1 ML) is a recent three-length winner in career start number three at Churchill Downs last month. The son of Distorted Humor will make his first start against winners for trainer Mark Cassee with Adam Beschizza aboard.

“He got a perfect ride and a perfect trip from Florent Geroux last time out,” Carroll said. “He trains really well in the morning. He does what he has to do without over doing it which is always a good sign with young horses. He’s got it mentally and physically.”

Lynn’s Map (9/2 ML) only needed two tries to break through his maiden ranks, doing so in a one-turn mile maiden special weight race at Churchill Downs in early November. The son of Breeders’ Cup Champion Liam’s Map was purchased for $285,000 at the OBS April 2-year-old in training sale. He’s been assigned post nine with Corey Lanerie up.

“He was drawn inside in that big field last time out,” Carroll said. “He put away some nice horses and showed a lot of determination. I think he handled it well and is a professional for being just a 2-year-old. Just like Race Driver, this horse does what he has to do in the mornings and is a really good work horse.”

With rain in the forecast for Saturday in New Orleans, the main track could come up less than fast.

“They (Race Driver and Lynn’s Map) have both been over an off track whether it be in the mornings or in a race and both of them have handled it well,” Carroll said. “Each track is different but Fair Grounds has one of the best surfaces in the country so I think they will handle it fine.”

A $600,000 purchase, Sharecropper will make his first start against winners after powering home from the back of the pack to break his maiden at Churchill Downs in October. The Al Stall Jr.-trained son of Pioneer of the Nile recently posted a bullet five furlong work (1:01 breezing from the gate) on December 14th at Fair Grounds.

“I took him to the gate just because he’s a big sort of sleepy 2-year-old,” Al Stall Jr. said. “I don’t think he needed a wakeup call but I just wanted to cover our bases. He jumped out of there and just galloped around easily in a good time. He couldn’t have been more comfortable. Things come really easy to him.”

“In his first race he broke really slow and he didn’t quite know what was going on,” Stall continued. “In his last race he broke normal with the rest of the field and the improvement from his first to his second race wasn’t just like your average jump. He really impressed us with that and we’re really excited about him.”

When asked about the sloppy track possibility on Saturday, Stall was unfazed.

“I don’t even blink an eye,” he said. “The surface here is one of the best in the country so there’s no excuses with this track.”

Sharecropper is listed at 5/1 morning line and is slotted from post six with Miguel Mena aboard.

The first level allowance race is scheduled to be run at 5:48 pm CST as race 13. The Santa Super Saturday card kicks off with a special first race post time of 12:00 pm CST.

 

 

QUOTES > NOTES

 Trainer Keith Desormeaux discusses his Sugar Bowl contender,
Calumet Farm’s Shashashakemeup.

What are your thoughts on the debut win and the potential to stretch out moving forward?

“I don’t train for speed and he won first out against the pattern of most of my horses, so that’s awesome,” Desormeaux said. “He’s a big, rangy colt with an efficient stride, and by Shackleford out of a Pulpit mare, we think he’s only going to get better as the distances increase.”

He broke his maiden in a sales restricted ($45,000 or less) maiden special weight race at Churchill. Given your ability to pick up talented horses for a reasonable price, you have to love that new condition, right?

“I’m not a fan of it, actually,” Desormeaux said. “I don’t need any help. I’m there to beat the best. I think he could have won an open maiden special weight race too, but why fight if you don’t have to.”

You drew the rail and Steve Asmussen has a fast and talented horse in Gold Street drawn right outside of you. Does that affect your strategy?

 “Not one bit,” Desormeaux said. “We are going to aggressive. He’s even sharper now. We are the horse to beat in my opinion. He doesn’t need a genius trip to get it done. If it’s wet, that doesn’t bother us at all either. The Fair Grounds track is great when it’s fast, wet and everything in between.”

 

Trainer Michael Stidham discusses his placement choice for Mt Brilliant Stable, LLC

and Orrin Ingram’s Ursula, who is cross entered in an allowance race and the Letellier Memorial Stakes

 

 Have you decided on where you’ll run Ursula and what went into the decision?

“We decided to go to the stake just because what she showed last time out (maiden win) and what she’s been showing us in the mornings,” Stidham said. “With her breeding and that bloodline, getting any type of black type for her is going to be big going forward so we’re going to take a shot.”

 

 Trainer Tom Amoss discusses Lone Sailor’s Korea trip, and how he feels the G M B Racing 4-year-old will perform in Saturday’s Tenacious and going forward

 

What was running in South Korea like, and why do you think Lone Sailor didn’t perform the way you thought he would?

“South Korea trip was great,” Amoss said. “They treated my stable and my horses very well. I wasn’t there myself but my whole team was well taken care of. It just wasn’t the type of track Lone Sailor likes. It’s very sandy there and deep, so looking back it was a great experience but just disappointing on race day.”

 

How’s he been doing recently and what do you expect Saturday?

“Right now, he’s doing great,” Amoss continued. “His workouts reflect that. He’s fresh with that time off and we’re looking forward to not only this race tomorrow but also to next year with him. I don’t think we’ve seen the best of him yet.”

 

MILESTONE ALERT

According to Equibase, trainer Steve Asmussen is approaching a personal milestone of 1,000 career Thoroughbred stakes wins in North America (US and Canada). He has horses entered in three stakes on Saturday, December 21 at Fair Grounds.

 R9 Blushing K. D. Stakes — OH MY 10-1 ML

R10 Sugar Bowl Stakes — GOLD STREET 2-1 ML

R12 Tenacious Stakes — TENFOLD 8-1