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Mission Impazible Tops New Orleans Handicap

Mission Impazible wins the 2010 Louisiana Derby
Twin Creeks Racing Stable’s Mission Impazible, the 5-year-old defending champion from last season’s Grade II New Orleans Handicap and winner of the Grade II Louisiana Derby two years ago, is set to match strides with George and Lori Hall’s 4-year-old Pants On Fire – the hero of last year’s $1 million Louisiana Derby – in Sunday’s 86th renewal of Fair Grounds’ traditional season highlight for older horses on the main track.

 

The $400,000 New Orleans Handicap, for 4-year-olds and upward, is run at nine furlongs over the Crescent City oval and is the undercard highlight on Fair Grounds’ gala 14-race Louisiana Derby Day  – which is also the closing day program of this 140th local racing season.

 

In his only start this winter, Mission Impazible, conditioned by five-time Eclipse Award-winning conditioner Todd Pletcher, was beaten only a nose in Gulfstream’s Grade I Donn Handicap Feb. 11.

 

On the other hand, Pants On Fire made his seasonal debut a winning one by capturing a one-mile test at Gulfstream with a facile 4 1/2-length tally despite being kept three-wide in the lane. Trained by Kelly Breen, who saddled George and Lori Hall’s Ruler On Ice to win last spring’s Belmont Stakes, Pants On Fire will also be making his second start of the 2012 racing season.

 

Nationally prominent and current red-hot reinsman Javier Castellano has been named to handle the reins on Mission Impazible, who will shoulder the top impost of 122 pounds Sunday while Fair Grounds’ defending jockey champion Rosie Napravnik, already assured of her second straight local title, will be in the irons aboard Pants On Fire with 118 pounds assigned.

 

However, despite the allure of a face-off between two Louisiana Derby winners in Sunday’s New Orleans Handicap, this year’s running of the Crescent City classic for older Thoroughbreds promises to be far more than a two-horse race.

 

Zayat Stables’ Nehro, second by a neck to Pants On Fire in last seasons Louisiana Derby and subsequently runner-up in the Grade I Arkansas Derby and the 2011 Kentucky Derby, returned to competition to win a conditioned allowance race at Fair Grounds Feb. 25 by 7 1/4-length and appears primed to give his best effort in the New Orleans Handicap under the tutelage of Fair Grounds’ 10-time trainer champion Steve Asmussen.

 

Nehro, a son of 2003 Horse of the Year Mineshaft, breezed four furlongs Tuesday morning at Fair Grounds in 50.20 and will be ridden by 2010 Fair Grounds jockey champion Shaun Bridgmohan Sunday with 116 pounds.

 

Jay Em Ess Stable’s Redeemed, third in the Donn in his seasonal bow, closed out his 2011 campaign with an impressive 2 1/4-length victory in Aqueduct’s Grade III Discovery Handicap Nov. 19 after previously annexing Remington’s $400,000 Oklahoma Derby Oct. 16. Fair Grounds-based conditioner Paul McGee will saddle Redeemed in the New Orleans Handicap. Veteran Peruvian-born reinsman Edgar Prado will make up most of the second high weight of 120 pounds.

 

Dianne Cotter’s Toby’s Corner, winner of last year’s Grade I Wood Memorial at Aqueduct but subsequently sidelined, has been prepared by trainer Graham Motion to make his second start of 2012 in the New Orleans Handicap after finishing third in Laurel’s Grade II General George Handicap Feb. 20. Eddie Castro will ride with a 117 pound assignment.

 

Windy Hill Farm’s Nates Mineshaft, hero of Fair Grounds’ Grade III Mineshaft Handicap Feb. 25 as the designed prep for the April 1 main event, has been trained up to Sunday’s race by conditioner Austin Smith and will carry 118 pounds including jockey Jesse Campbell.

 

Jim Tafel’s Fast Alex, runner-up in the Mineshaft ’Cap and the $100,000 Louisiana  Handicap as the first leg of the local horse series Jan. 21, won Fair Grounds’ $75,000 Tenacious Handicap Dec. 17 and is trained by Greg Geier. The 5-year-old is assigned 116 pounds Sunday and will be ridden by Robby Albarado again.

 

Also, Mark Gorman, Neil Haymes and Sterling Stable’s Thirtyfirststreet, eighth in the Grade I Santa Anita Handicap March 3 after being bumped into the rail in upper stretch, will invade from the West Coast for trainer Doug O’Neill and have French-born rider Julien Leparoux astride with 113 pounds assigned.

 

Lothenbach Stables’ Mister Marti Gras, who last visited the winner’s circle in Churchill’s in Grade III Ack Ack Handicap, last fall gets in the New Orleans Handicap with 114 pounds, and is to be saddled by conditioner Neil Pessin and be ridden by John Velazquez but is cross-entered Sunday.

 

 

 

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Older Comments about Mission Impazible Tops New Orleans Handicap...

Oh dear oh dear, still leaning to my favourie Toby and Mission Im and Redeemed in no particular order.
Toby's Corner, Nehro, Mission Impazible, Fast Alex. Toby's corner because I think that last race got him ready, Nehro because he likes to come in a close second, Mission Impazible because I think he could win this, so not the time to pick him to win--you know how he is, Fast Alex--I like him and he's good enough for fourth. My luck at Fair Grounds has been horrible though. Beware.
Great race.. Ill take Tobys corner and P.O.F this field is very nice!
I hope Nehro wins and becomes a force in the handicap division.
Going to be a great race..still have no pick,with so much to handicapping for Fri,Sat..
Toby's Corner looks primed for a strong showing in this one. Wide open race with tough new 4 yr olds like Redeemed and Pants on Fire. Seems like a good betting race.
Congrats to the Fair Grounds for attracting such a powerful field ... should be an exciting race and day.
My favourite kind of race, they're all race toughened and good, have to admire the lot of them. Will do my homework to see if I'm getting any better at handicapping, so far pretty abysmal.
Since Redeemed's loss to the oustanding sprinter Caleb's Posse in last year's Amsterdam,this guy has faced some really stiff competition...his most impressive win to date was the Oklahoma Derby where he nailed Alternation at the wire...after a somewhat troubled trip off a three month layoff,he still finished a respectable 3rd in the Donn.This guy has brass balls,but with all the talent in this race,would like to sleep on it for a few days before predicting a winner.
Interesting race here with the likes of Mission Impazible, Nehro, Pants On Fire, Redeemed, and Toby's Corner. Toss in SoCal invader Thirtyfirststreet and a few locals as well.

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