Trainer Pat Dupuy still believes in his horse, even though the bay gelding officially became a 9-year-old on New Year’s Day.
The hard-knocking Strike Impact, who Dupuy co-owns with Chester Miller, proved best by a length in the $75,000 “Buddy” Diliberto Memorial Handicap in his last start as an 8-year-old Dec. 22, and since then he has been doing just fine.
“He acts like he’s a 3-year-old or a 4-year-old,” said Dupuy. “He’s old, but he’s sound, and he still just loves to train. Right now, I don’t see any reason why he couldn’t race again next year and maybe even the year after that.
“In fact,” Dupuy added as a horseman who has been training on and off for more than 30 years, “he may even outlive me.”
Strike Impact is the 4-1 second choice in the morning line for Saturday’s Grade III E. R. Bradley Handicap behind Bluegrass Hall’s 7-2 favorite Optimizer, who is conditioned by Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, but that fact doesn’t intimidate Dupuy.
“Lukas’s horse got beat by (Mill Ridge Farm’s) Keep Up in the (Grade III) River City at Churchill two starts back,” said Dupuy. “Strike Impact also got beat by Keep Up in a race at Churchill two starts back, but in our race against him we got beat by a bad ride by my jock. If anyone looks at the replay of that race, my jock (Shaun Bridgmohan) got Strike Impact in all kinds of trouble. We should have won that race against Keep Up.
“Even Shaun admitted that,” Dupuy said. “When he came back to the winner’s circle after the Diliberto, Shaun said, ‘I hope this helps make up for that race I messed up last time.’
“My horse is ready to run another good race,” Dupuy said. “His last two works (going three-eighths in 35.60 Jan. 19 and that same time on Jan. 12) have been bullets, and even galloping out both times I caught him doing it in 48 and change.”
JAMES STREET READY TO TRY TURF AGAIN IN COL. BRADLEY ’CAP
Melnyk Racing Stables’ James Street has won six times in 21 career starts, including two in graded stakes company, but in his three lifetime starts on grass, he has yet to reach the winner’s circle.
However, that fact doesn’t bother his trainer, Josie Carroll, who plans to run the 6-year-old son of El Prado next in Saturday’s Grade III Col. E. R. Bradley Handicap over the Stall-Wilson turf course at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots. James Street most recently finished fifth in the $75,000 “Buddy” Diliberto Handicap on that same grass course Dec. 22 but he closed willingly in the late stages and was only beaten 1 3/4-lengths at the wire.
“I thought he handled it pretty well,” said Carroll, “and I thought he galloped out great after the race. He had a good work Sunday (a half-mile in 49 flat), so as long as the course continues to dry out, we should be ready to go.”
JOCKEY JANSEN MELANCON TO REPLACE JAMES GRAHAM ON STRING KING
Because jockey James Graham has to catch a flight to Houston to ride All In Stable’s Willcox Inn in the Grade III John B. Connally Handicap Saturday night, he will give up the mount on Charles Craig Smith’s String King in the Grade III Col. E.R. Bradley Handicap at Fair Grounds. Trainer Charlie Smith said he will name jockey Jansen Melancon to replace Graham.
“Now we have a no-name jockey and a no-name trainer for our no-name horse,” said Smith of his Louisiana-bred who will be going against open company in the Col. Bradley.
However, Graham will be able to ride James Miller’s Daisy Devine in Saturday’s $75,000 Marie Krantz Memorial at Fair Grounds earlier in the afternoon before catching his flight.
Daisy Devine won the Grade II Fair Grounds Oaks at the Crescent City oval in 2011.
ROSIE WINS FOUR STRAIGHT RACES AT FAIR GROUNDS THURSDAY
Fair Grounds’ two-time defending jockey champion won four straight races at Fair Grounds Thursday, one day after she was presented with a “Key to the City” from New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu in ceremonies held in his office at City Hall.
Napravnik won Thursday’s fourth aboard Pat Jackson’s Easy Strike for trainer Morris Nicks, the fifth on Don’t Tell My Wife Stables’ Birdie Beats Par for conditioner Keith Desormeaux, the sixth on Peachtree Thoroughbreds’ Laugh It Off for trainer Bobby Barnett and the seventh astride Stewart Madison’s Starter for conditioner Andy Leggio.