Virginia Tarra Trust’s Giant Oak, who captured
Gulfstream’s Grade I Donn Handicap Feb. 5, has been installed as the
slight 5-2 morning line choice for Saturday’s 85th renewal of the Grade II
New Orleans Handicap – Fair Grounds’ season highlight for older horses run
as part of the Louisiana Derby Day program.
In the $400,000 New Orleans Handicap, run at nine furlongs
on the main track, Giant Oak – trained by Chris Block – will be
ridden once again by Shaun Bridgmohan, Fair Grounds jockey champion last
season, who was aboard for the Donn and also Churchill’s Grade I Clark
Handicap last fall when Giant Oak was the adjudged winner following a
disqualification of the first horse under the wire. He carries the top
impost of 122 pounds.
Among the dangerous rivals for Giant Oak Saturday are Twin
Creeks Racing Stable’s Mission Impazible, who won last season’s Grade
II Louisiana Derby and was second in this winter’s Grade III Mineshaft
Amerman Racing Stable’s Demarcation, winner of the
Mineshaft, and Adele Dilschneider’s Apart, third in the Mineshaft and
winner of last fall’s Grade II Super Derby at Louisiana Downs.
Mission Impazible shoulders 118 pounds including Garrett
Gomez; Demarcation is assigned 118 with Rosie Napravnik
astride; and Apart also carries 118 with Jesse Campbell aboard.
Completing the New Orleans Handicap field, with jockey and
weights, is the Jim Tafel-owned coupling of Fast Alex, Trey Agilar (114)
and Country Flavor, Shane Sellers (117); James Spence’s El Caballo,
Robby Albarado (115); and Preston Stables’ Birdrun, Rajiv Maragh