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Gantry Surges Past Cash Refund

Fair Grounds Race Course
Photo: CDI
It was a winning day for local horse people on Opening Day of the 140th Thoroughbred Racing Season at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, including a score in the featured event when Brittlyn Stable’s Gantry captured the 86th running of the $75,000 Thanksgiving Handicap by a nose at the historic New Orleans oval.


Trainer Ron Faucheux Jr.,who was winning the first stakes race of his blossoming career in his third season at Fair Grounds, was born and raised in the Crescent City, where his father ran unsuccessfully for mayor of New Orleans in 1982.


Louisiana native owner Evelyn Benoit, who was seeing her silks in the winner’s circle for the third time during the Thanksgiving Day program, is the mother of noted guitarist Tab Benoit, for whom her perennial Louisiana-bred champion Star Guitar is named.


Gantry, always well placed, could not put his nose in front until the last jump, but the win was not too much of a surprise to his 29-year-old conditioner.


“I’m not surprised (Gantry) ran as well as he did,” said Faucheux, “but with the speed holding up as well as it did today, I was a little surprised he was able to get there.”


Gantry, who was ridden by Richard Eramia, a native of Uruguay who was leading rider at the recently completed Louisiana Downs session and who escaped serious injury in a spill earlier in the afternoon, also expected Gantry to run well.


“I worked him last week and he worked very good for me,” Eramia said.


Gantry, who paid $12.20, $6.60 and $3.40, accomplished the six furlongs in 1:09.62, and increased his career earnings to $159,850 with his fourth win in nine career starts.


Richard, Bertram and Elaine Klein’s Cash Refund, who gained the advantage in the lane, could not withstand the winner at the wire but was easily second best, finishing 4 1/4-lengths to the good of Whispering Oaks Farm’s Joe Hollywood, who made the pace with splits of 21.92 and 56.78.



Native New Orleanian Al Stall Jr., a multiple training champion at Fair Grounds in past seasons, was the training star of the day, saddling four winners in a row on the 10-race program. Stall began his run with Brittlyn Stable’s Beanwah’smachine in the third, came right back in the fourth with Columbine Stable’s Cornicelli, took the fifth with Joe Agular’s Sharp Tongue Lady and capped off his quartet with Brittlyn Stable’s Sunday’s Child in the seventh.



One race prior to the Thanksgiving Handicap, Klaravich Stable and William Lawrence’s Populist Politics won the fourth running of the $60,000  Mr. Sulu Stakes as the undercard highlight of Fair Grounds’ Opening Day program. Trained by Tom Amoss –another native New Orleanian – and ridden by James Graham, Populist Politics paid a $4.80 straight price as the choice of the fans based on his third place finish in Louisiana Downs Grade II Super Derby at last asking, as well as his victory in Fair Grounds’ $100,000 Louisiana Futurity last year.



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