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Mark Valeski Heads Louisiana Derby Hopefuls

Fair Grounds Race Course
Photo: CDI

Brereton Jones’ Mark Valeski, second by a nose in Fair Ground’ Grade II Risen Star Stakes Feb. 25, is scheduled for his next breeze over the local oval Tuesday morning in advance of the 2012 Louisiana Derby.


Donegal Racing’s Finnegans Wake, third behind Dr. Kendall Hansen’s Hansen in Aqueduct’s Grade III Gotham March 3, is also now being considered for the Louisiana Derby (on closing day of the New Orleans 2011-2012 racing season), according to Fair Grounds stakes coordinator Scott Jones.


Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer is expected to send at least one of a quartet of sophomores under consideration for the Louisiana Derby, according to Jones. That group consists of Steve Beneto’s Longview Drive, sixth in Oaklawn’s Grade III Southwest Stakes Feb. 20; Mr. and Mrs. Larry Williams’ Rousing Sermon, runner-up by a neck in Hollywood’s Grade I CashCall Futurity Dec. 17; Olympia Star’s Russian Greek, winner of Golden Gate’s $100,000 California Derby Jan. 14; and Green Smith’s Nonios, undefeated by a total of 8 1/4-lengths in two lifetime trips to the post.


Jake Ballis’s Cigar Street, a son of 2008 Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense and a Steve Margolis trainee who broke his maiden by 13 3/4-lengths at Fair Grounds March 10, is being mentioned as a possibility for the Louisiana Derby, as is Mike Munna Racing Stable’s Comisky’s Humor, a Ron Faucheux-trained colt by Sharp Humor who has won his last two starts by a total of 18 lengths.


Casner Racing’s Arm Force, a son of two-time Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Tiznow trained by Eoin Harty who broke his maiden by 3 3/4-lengths at Gulfstream Feb. 26, is also under consideration for the Louisiana Derby, as is Raut LLC’s consistent Hero of Order, a Gennadi Dorochenko trainee who was fourth in the Risen Star and more recently runner-up in the $75,000 Black Gold Stakes March 10 over the Stall-Wilson turf course.






Reigning Horse of the Year Havre de Grace, fresh once more after the spoils of victory attained Saturday afternoon at Fair Grounds in the $150,000 New Orleans Ladies, was standing quietly in her stall early Sunday morning while trainer Larry Jones was still in town.


“We’re all good, here,” said Jones, who was holding another horse in the barn while a blacksmith attended to his duties. “(Havre de Grace) is right here in this stall behind me. You can see that she’s having a wonderful morning. She’s already been out and had her bath this morning.


“I’m leaving in a few minutes to head up to Oaklawn to pick up (Fox Hill Farms’) Joyful Victory and bring her back down here,” Jones said. “She may have run third yesterday (in Oaklawn’s $150,000 Azeri) but she ran her race. I was looking at her Equibase numbers this morning and she seems to have run the exact same race that she did a year ago, so I think yesterday she just got beat. I think Steve Hobby’s horse (Cresran’s Azeri winner Tiz Miz Sue) just ran the race of her life to beat our horse. 


“I don’t have any complaints at all about the way (Joyful Victory) was ridden or anything like that,” Jones said. “I’ve found that at Oaklawn sometimes you just need your horse to have a race over the track each season before your horse runs its best race. Look at the way Carl Bowman’s horse (2011 New Orleans Ladies winner Ravi’s Song) ran up there yesterday. She backed up four or five lengths off of her best race.


“I’ll be right back down here at the barn tomorrow,” said Jones. “Right now, my plan is to work those 3-year-olds on Tuesday morning,” he added, speaking of the Brereton Jones-owned trio of Louisiana Derby prospects Mark Valeski and Mr. Bowling as well as Fair Grounds Oaks candidate Believe You Can.





Defending jockey champion and current leading rider Rosie Napravnik scored her 100th win of the season in Saturday’s sixth race astride Maggi Moss’s Thunder Affair, trained by Tom Amoss.


The 24-year-old native of Morristown, N. J. is well ahead of the pace that saw her earn leading rider honors a year ago with 110 wins.




All racing fans are reminded that Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots will hold its annual Crawfish Boil this Tuesday in the paddock from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.


This year’s Crawfish Boil is being held to benefit the family of longtime Fair Grounds jockey E. J. Perrodin, a Louisiana native who retired earlier this season just days before being diagnosed with Stage 4 brain cancer.


A live and silent auction, a jockey crawfish eating contest, raffle prizes and much more will be part of the afternoon.  Tickets are $25 and may be purchased at the door or by contacting Sandra Salmen at (504) 948-1150 or Sandra.Salmen@fgno.com.




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