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General Quarters Looking Sharp

Fair Grounds Race Course
Photo: CDI

Tom McCarthy’s General Quarters, one of the favorites for Saturday’s Grade II New Orleans Handicap, breezed a half-mile in 49.40 Sunday morning in a move that left his owner-trainer’s Irish eyes smiling while he cooled out his colt following the encouraging work.


“It was the way he finished up that really was so encouraging,” said McCarthy of the breeze accomplished with jockey Jamie Theriot in the irons. “He went the first three-eighths in 37 and change, but I got him coming home the last eighth in 11 flat.  Jamie said the track was really dead – it had no spring to it at all – but my horse felt really strong under him and seemed really happy out there. Jamie loved being on him.


“I would have to say this horse is doing better right now than I’ve seen him do all winter,” concluded McCarthy. “Maybe that little break in his training last week was just what he needed.”


General Quarters did not go to the track for three days last week after sustaining a bruise on his left front just above the fetlock.


In his last trip to the post, General Quarters finished second by a neck in the Grade III Mineshaft Handicap as the final major local prep for the New Orleans Handicap that was run Feb. 20.


Giant Oak Breezes Five Furlongs in 1:01 Sunday

Virginia Tarra’s Giant Oak, a highly regarded candidate for Saturday’s Grade II New Orleans Handicap who finished third in the $100,000 Mineshaft Handicap Feb. 20, breezed five furlongs in 1:01 Saturday morning in preparation for his upcoming assignment.


“(Giant Oak) was on an exceptional roll this morning,” said trainer Neil Pessin shortly after the breeze, accomplished with James Graham in the irons. “He did the last eighth in 11 and change and when he came back to the barn he couldn’t blow out a match. We have no excuses now going into Saturday’s race. He couldn’t be doing any better.”

Pessin also breezed Lothenbach Stables’ Mister Marti Gras five-eighths in 1:02 in possible preparation for Saturday’s $750,000 Louisiana Derby at nine furlongs. 


“We’ll discuss it with his owners whether we end up going in that race or in another spot,” said Pessin, “and make a final decision later in the week.”

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