At the end of a Closing Day that saw the top two trainers winning half the races on the card, Tom Amoss and Steve Asmussen finished in a tie for leading trainer honors at the 141st Thoroughbred Racing Season with 42 wins apiece.
For the third straight season, jockey Rosie Napravnik and owner Maggi Moss led all horsemen in their respective categories.
Asmussen extended his record number of leading trainer titles to 12, while Amoss tied Jack Van Berg for second in Fair Grounds trainer titles with 10.
For Asmussen, his sixth consecutive leading trainer crown was one more milestone in a career that seems to result in new records set at every turn, at Fair Grounds and across the country. Last week, Asmussen became the second-leading trainer in history, eclipsing Van Berg. Last Fair Grounds season, he bested Van Berg’s long-held record for local titles. In 2009 he surpassed his own record for wins in a calendar year with 623 and he also holds an Eclipse Award for Outstanding Trainer in 2008.
Amoss, meanwhile, notched his first leading trainer title since 2006-2007. He and Asmussen also shared a meet title in 2000-2001.
“It’s been a while,” Amoss said. “It’s good to know the stable had one left in them! But truly, every once in a while the horse gods give you a magical day and today was truly a magical day. Four wins is almost gluttonous, but we’ll take it, for sure. I’m proud of the stable and I’m proud of everyone that works for the barn.”
The last time a trainer other than Amoss or Asmussen led the standings here was the 1998-1999 meet, when Al Stall Jr. tied with Amoss.
Amoss now has 922 career Fair Grounds, second behind Van Berg’s 1,210 (estimated), while Asmussen is third with 863.
Napravnik cruised to her third consecutive leading jockey title with 125 wins, her highest total here. She finished 43 wins ahead of James Graham (82 wins), who was runner-up here for the fifth time.
“My husband and I have made this our home and we love this city and the racing here at Fair Grounds, so it was great to be back this year,” Napravnik said. “It’s great to have all of the supporters – the owners and trainers – helping rack up the wins. We’ll be back next year and we’re looking forward to it already. I hate to leave.”
In another race that came down to the final day, Maggi Moss earned her third straight leading owner title with 19 wins, one more than Asmussen.
Moss, a Des Moines, Iowa-based attorney, finished third in the national owner standings the past three calendar years.
Live racing at Fair Grounds will resume with the Sixth Summer Quarter Horse Meet, opening August 16. The 14-day season will run through September 7. Thoroughbred racing will return in November with the 142nd Thoroughbred Racing Season.
SOUTHERN DUDE TAKES BAYOU ST. JOHN
Midwest Thoroughbreds’ Southern Dude captured the $60,000 Bayou St. John Stakes in the featured 10th race of the Easter Sunday afternoon by three-quarters of a length with leading jockey Rosie Napravnik in the saddle.
Southern Dude’s victory in the third running of the Bayou St. John for accredited Louisiana-breds at about 5 1/2-furlongs over the firm Stall-Wilson Turf Course was earned in front-running fashion. The altered son of Lion Tamer made the pace with early splits of 22.52 and 45.52 before he accomplished the final time in 103.16.
The 5-year-old bay returned mutuels of $6.40, $4.60 and $3.40 and increased his career earnings to $203,667 with his seventh victory from 12 lifetime starts.
H & H Ranch’s Tey’s Big Boy finished second, paying $17.80 and $9.20 while finishing two lengths to the good of Bill and Denise Morrison’s No Rules Now who returned $4.20.
LOUISIANA DERBY SECOND MYLUTE POINTING TO KENTUCKY DERBY
Mylute, a game second in the 100th running of the $1 million Louisiana Derby on Saturday, will head to Louisville, Ky., with the intention of running in the Kentucky Derby, trainer Tom Amoss said Sunday.
“It’s safe to say that if Mylute has enough points to get in the Derby he’s going to run in the Derby,” Amoss said. “I think that’s the way the owners feel. The good news is that he’s healthy today.”
RECORD ALL-SOURCES HANDLE ON LOUISIANA DERBY DAY
Saturday’s Louisiana Derby Day card at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots – featuring seven stakes, highlighted by the milestone 100th running of the $1 million Louisiana Derby – produced record all-sources handle with a 16% increase over the 2012 Louisiana Derby Day despite this year’s program having one fewer race.
The first-ever Infield Festival on Louisiana Derby Day, which attracted a few thousand fans more than recent Louisiana Derby Days thanks to concerts and a gathering of food trucks and pop-up vendors, helped spur on-track wagering to its second-highest total in history. The record for on-track handle was set on last year’s Louisiana Derby Day, when an influx of Univeristy of Kentucky and University of Louisville fans in town for the NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four swelled the ranks of experienced horse racing bettors in New Orleans.
Saturday’s handle was also helped by a full gate of 14 3-year-old Thoroughbreds for the featured Louisiana Derby, the race’s largest field size in 51 years, as well as a return to national television coverage as part of the “Road to the Triple Crown” series on NBC Sports Network.
“Our goal was to make the 100th Louisiana Derby the biggest and best one ever seen and we definitely accomplished that,” said Fair Grounds President Tim Bryant. “I’m very grateful to all of our fans – from the Grandstand regulars to the first-time Infield guests who came to see a great live band – for helping to make this celebration so memorable. We’re already looking forward to staging an even better Infield Festival for the 101st Louisiana Derby in 2014.”
Bryant also acknowledged the contributions of several Fair Grounds, Louisiana Derby and Infield Festival partners, especially Coors Light, Jägermeister, Kubota, Lamarque Ford, Go Auto, Hotel Monteleone, East Jefferson General Hospital and the numerous vendor partners.