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Mission Impazible Ready to Strike

Three years ago trainer Todd Pletcher was able to complete a rare parlay: sending Michael and Doreen Tabor’s Circular Quay on a quick trip back to Fair Grounds to win the Grade II New Orleans Handicap as a 4-year-old one year after that agile chestnut took down winning honors in the Grade II Louisiana Derby as a sophomore.


On Saturday, reigning Eclipse Award-winning trainer Pletcher will try to accomplish that same unusual Crescent City double again by winning this year’s $400,000 New Orleans Handicap with Twin Creeks Racing Stables’ Mission Impazible, the roan son of Unbridled’s Song who won last year’s Louisiana Derby.


How does Mission Impazible compare to Circular Quay?


“Actually, they are quite a bit different,” said Pletcher assistant Michael McCarthy, who travelled here from Palm Meadows with Mission Impazible earlier this week. McCarthy was also Pletcher’s California-based assistant when Circular Quay ran out on the West Coast. “Circular Quay had a more laid-back personality than Mission Impazible does.  


“Also, their running styles are fairly different,” McCarthy noted. “Circular Quay was the kind of horse who liked to make one late run. The only time he didn’t do that was when he won the New Orleans Handicap, and that race was different because it was the first time we ever put the blinkers on him.


“Mission Impazible usually runs his best races when he prompts the pace,” said McCarthy. “Generally, he likes to stay pretty close to the lead in the early part of it.


“It was to Circular Quay’s credit that he was able to win the Louisiana Derby one year and come back the next year to win the New Orleans Handicap,” said McCarthy, “and it would be great to get it done again with Mission Impazible.” 


Jack Smith and Mrs. S. K. Johnston Jr’s Snow Fall, who spiked a temperature Sunday afternoon after being entered in the $500,000 Fair Grounds Oaks earlier that morning, will be scratched from Saturday’s Grade II season highlight for 3-year-old fillies, reducing that field to nine runners.



Dean Reeves, one of the principle owners of Saturday’s $1 million Louisiana Derby favorite Mucho Macho Man, offered an encouraging update on jockey Eibar Coa, the favorite’s regular rider until he suffered paralyzing injuries in a spill at Gulfstream the day before Fair Grounds’ $350,000 Risen Star Stakes on Feb. 19.


“Eibar is improving every day,” said Reeves, who has visited Coa in the hospital. “The last time I saw him, he could actually stand up with the assistance of someone grabbing him by the back of his pants and holding him.”




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