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Breeders Cup 2015

Howard Updates Risen Star Status

Fair Grounds Race Course
Photo: CDI

Trainer Neil Howard breezed Gaillardia Racing’s Grade III Lecomte Stakes winner Wilkinson a half-mile in 48.20 Tuesday, as well as his highly regarded undefeated 3-year-old Machen, owned by Courtlandt Farms, who accomplished that same four-furlong distance in 49.80 in a separate move on that day. However, there was no change in either horse’s status as of Friday morning in relation to Fair Grounds’ upcoming Grade II Risen Star Stakes as the middle jewel of New Orleans three-race series for sophomores to be run Feb. 19.


“Nothing has changed yet,” said Howard, speaking in his office Friday morning. “The plan is still to definitely run Machen in the Risen Star, but we’re still no sure about Wilkinson.  That horse is still 60-40 to go in there.


“The thing about Wilkinson is that he ran a good race in the Lecomte, but it was also a hard race,” Howard explained, “so we’re in a little bit of a quandary trying to decide what is best for him. He’s already had three races here this winter and we don’t want to ask him to do too much.


“As for Grasshopper (the winner of Fair Grounds’ Grade III Mineshaft Handicap in 2008 owned by W. S. Farish, E. J. Hudson and the Estate of James Elkins Jr.), he had a good work Wednesday (a half in 49 flat), but we don’t have his next start penciled in just yet.”



Jockey Richard Eramia rode three winners Thursday at Fair Grounds, allowing him to move into second in the jockey’s standings, six wins behind current leading rider Rosie Napravnik entering Friday’s race day.


Eramia won Thursday’s opener aboard Joseph Robson’s Future Direction for trainer Don Roberson, the third race on Al and Bill Ulwelling’s Shimmering Port for conditioner Gary Scherer and the eighth astride Paulette Nager’s Jim N Peg’s Gal for trainer Michelle Lovell.



Carl Moore’s Chamberlain Bridge, hero of the Grade II Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint last November, will be going to Sam Houston Park to contest the $75,000 Rail Splitter Stakes Feb. 12, trainer Bret Calhoun advised Friday morning.





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