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Margolis Excited About Cigar Street

Margolis Excited About Cigar Street
Less than three weeks ago, Jake Ballis and Rashard Lewis’s Cigar Street had never won a race, and less than a week ago, trainer Steve Margolis was still undecided about entering his colt in Sunday’s $1 million Louisiana Derby, but following a five-furlong breeze last Sunday, accomplished in 1:01.20, the New York City-born Margolis pronounced his quickly-developing colt accomplished enough to contest the showcase event of the New Orleans racing season.


Fair Grounds morning-line odds maker Mike Diliberto agreed, installing Cigar Street as the 7-2 second choice for Sunday’s the Grade II local Derby – always a significant step stepping stone to the Kentucky Derby less than five weeks later.


“Good,” whispered Diliberto at Monday’s Derby Draw when Cigar Street’s name was drawn to leave from the #5 post stall in the starting gate. “The two favorites both got good draws. Now, I don’t have to change the odds that I think they should be.” 


Brereton Jones’s Mark Valeski, who Diliberto considers the stronger half of the Jones-owned entry grouped as a single wagering interest, drew the #8 post with entry mate Mr. Bowling slated to leave from the #7 spot. Together, that Larry Jones-trained duo was pegged for 2-1 Louisiana Derby favoritism.


“I guess when (Todd Pletcher-trained) Discreet Dancer didn’t show up, my horse moved up to second,” said Margolis Wednesday morning, speaking of a well-regarded Louisiana Derby prospect whose connections declined participation in Sunday’s main event. “Otherwise, I guess I would have been the third choice.


“This is exciting,” Margolis added. “To have Cigar Street jump up and run big in a maiden race (a 13 3/4-length victory at Fair Grounds March 10) and now go into the big race as the second choice is a big thrill for me. Also, we’ve got Inny Minnie going in the Fair Grounds Oaks on Saturday (also owned by Ballis and Lewis as the $500,000 Oaks’ projected 4-1 third choice) and (Richard, Bertram and Elaine Klein’s) Cash Refund in the ($150,000) Duncan Kenner (as the 5-2 second choice) on Sunday.


“They are all doing great and I’m looking forward to this weekend,” concluded Margolis. “This has been a good meet for us. Now, I hope we can end it up on a good note.”



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