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El Caballo the Wildcard in New Orleans 'Cap

Fair Grounds Race Course
Photo: CDI

Trainer Ralph Nicks, a man of limited words but unlimited ability as a horseman, will saddle James Spence’s El Caballo in Saturday’s 2011 New Orleans Handicap following a one-year layoff since the horse’s sixth-place finish in Fair Grounds’ 2010 Mervin Muniz Memorial Handicap on last year’s Louisiana Derby Day.

 

The New Orleans Handicap is Fair Grounds’ main event for older horses on the main track, while the Muniz Memorial, slated for the Stall-Wilson turf course, is the Crescent City oval’s top grass test for older horses.

 

Why the switch in surfaces? El Caballo finished second – beaten only a nose in the last jump by the late Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel-conditioned Proudinsky, owned by Johanna Glen-Taven, in the 2009 Mervin Muniz.

 

“He’s also won a race over the main track here,” said Nicks Wednesday morning, “and he’s been working really well over the main track here this winter. His feet and everything are in good shape now so we’ll go in here and see where it takes us. He’s such a talented individual, I hope to get a good race out of him on Saturday and have a very nice horse to keep going for the rest of the year.

 

“I admit I’m throwing him to the wolves right off the bat here,” said Nicks, “but the best races he has ever run have come off a long layoff. I guess that’s because his races take so much out of him. But now he’s had a long vacation and I hope that turns out to be real beneficial.”

 

 

 

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