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Road to the Derby Program at Fair Grounds

Fair Grounds Race Course
Photo: CDI

Sugar Bowl Stakes winner Cool Bullet faces 10 sophomore rivals, including a pair of invading 3-year-old stakes winners based on the East Coast, in Saturday’s Grade III $100,000 Lecomte Stakes – a race which serves as Fair Grounds’ early test leading to 2010’s upcoming Grade II, $750,000 Louisiana Derby on March 27.


However, that race is only one of six stakes showcased on the Road to the Derby program in New Orleans this Saturday. Post time for the first race of 13 races is scheduled for 12:10 pm.


Also featured on Saturday’s local program is last year’s Louisiana Derby winner Friesan Fire, who won last year’s Lecomte on his way to sweeping Fair Grounds sophomore series and then went on to be post time favorite in last spring’s Kentucky Derby.


Friesan Fire, owned by Vinery Stables and Fox Hill Farms, is now trained by Steve Asmussen, Eclipse Award-winning trainer the last two years, but last year’s local Derby hero will only be the third choice at 3-1 in the morning line when he goes to the post in Saturday’s $75,000 Louisiana Handicap for older horses, which serves as a prep for the Grade II New Orleans Handicap on Louisiana Derby Day.


Good and Lucky, who won the 2009 Louisiana Handicap, has been installed as the 9-5 morning line choice to repeat this season, based largely on his win in Fair Grounds’ $59,000 Tenacious Handicap at last asking Dec. 20. Secret Getaway, second behind Good and Lucky in December’s Tenacious ‘Cap, is the second choice in Saturday’s Louisiana Handicap at 5-2, after defeating Good and Lucky in the 2008 Tenacious ‘Cap here.  General Quarters, owned and trained by Tom McCarthy and another veteran of last spring’s Kentucky Derby, is the fourth choice at 6-1 in Saturday’s Louisiana Handicap morning line.


Installed as the 2-1 morning line favorite in Saturday’s Grade III Col. E. R. Bradley Handicap – a prep for the Grade II Mervin Muniz Memorial Handicap on Louisiana Derby Day – is James Spence’s El Caballo, second by a nose to the late Bobby Frankel-trained Proudinsky in last year’s Muniz Memorial. Both the Col. Bradley and the Muniz are run over Fair Grounds’ Stall-Wilson turf course. David Garner’s Glamour Guy is the 3-1 second choice in the Col. Bradley. Although winless on the grass, Glamour Guy finished second to Good and Lucky but in front of Friesan Fire in a $100,000 optional claiming race on the main track here Dec. 3. Barr Three Stable and Cherrywood Racing’s Princeville Condo, winner of the $60,000 Buddy Diliberto Memorial Handicap on the grass here Dec. 26, is the third choice in Saturday’s Col. Bradley.


Saturday’ $75,000 Tiffany Lass Stakes is the first leg in New Orleans’ sophomore filly series that leads to the Grade II Fair Grounds Oaks March 26, and four of the last five Fair Grounds Oaks winners (including Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra last year) have gone on to win the Kentucky Oaks


Mark Stanley’s Quiet Temper is the 8-5 morning line choice in the Tiffany Lass based on her facile tally in a $50,000 optional claiming race here Jan. 3. Second choice at 4-1 for the Tiffany Lass is Martin Cherry’s Visavis, who just missed when second by a nose in Fair Grounds Letellier Memorial here Dec. 19.


Heading Saturday’s $75,000 F. W. Gaudin Memorial Stakes at six furlongs is the popular sprinter Euroears, who won the first six races of his career including the 2008 Gaudin before being sidelined by injury. The Bret Calhoun trainee, owned by James and Marilyn Helzer, is 7-5 in the morning line for Saturday’s Gaudin after winning Fair Grounds’ Thanksgiving Handicap in his last start Nov. 26. Richard, Bertram and Elaine Klein’s Cash Refund, a winner in $40,000 optional claiming company here Dec. 27 and a close second in Churchill’s Matt Winn Stakes last spring, is the 8-5 second choice in the Gaudin.


Finally, in Saturday’s $75,000 Dr. A. B. Leggio Memorial Stakes for fillies and mares at about five and a half furlongs over the Stall-Wilson turf course, Jay Em Ess Stable’s Coy Cat, winner of Turfway’s Holiday Inaugural Nov. 29 as well as last winter’s $75,000 Bienville Stakes at Fair Grounds, has been pegged the 7-2 Leggio Memorial favorite. Close behind at 9-2 in the Leggio morning line is Gold Square’s Lady Chace, a three-length winner at Delta Downs in her last start on Dec. 17, and second in the 2009 Bienville behind Coy Cat. Lady Chace was also runner-up in last year’s Leggio.


Adding to the excitement of Saturday’s Road to the Derby program is an All-Stakes Pick Four with a guaranteed pool of $100,000 that begins on Race 7 with the Louisiana Handicap and ends with the Lecomte.


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