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Shippers Arrive for Fair Grounds Stakes Races

Fair Grounds Race Course
Photo: CDI
All the out-of-town shippers invading New Orleans in advance of Saturday’s Louisiana Derby Preview Day Presented by Lamarque Ford had arrived without incident in New Orleans by mid-morning Wednesday and were safely ensconced in three different barns on the Fair Grounds backstretch.




Let’s Go Stable’s El Padrino, the 2-1 morning line favorite for Saturday’s Grade II Risen Star Stakes as the final designed prep race in advance of the $1 million Louisiana Derby on April 1, was getting a bath while being held trainer Todd Pletcher’s assistant Whit Beckman.


A few yards away, Bourque Goldstein Thoroughbreds’ Alma d’Oro, pegged at 6-1 in the early odds for Saturday’s Grade III Mineshaft Handicap, was calmly being walked around the shed row. The $125,000 Mineshaft ’Cap for older horses on the main track is Fair Grounds’ final prep for the Grade II New Orleans Handicap, also to be run on April 1 as the closing day of the Crescent City’s Thoroughbred racing season.


Although El Padrino and Alma d’Oro came to New Orleans on an equine charter from South Florida on Wednesday morning, Beckham came to Fair Grounds Tuesday evening from Belmont Park where he serves as Pletcher’s assistant with the trainer’s New York-based string.


“I met up with the both horses at the airport this morning and accompanied them here,” Beckman said. “Both horses obviously travelled well and are looking well right now.”


El Padrino, who closed out in the opening Kentucky Derby Future Pool at 16-1, has made one start this season, winning an allowance and $50,000 optional claiming race at Gulfstream Park by two lengths. The son of Pulpit breezed a half-mile at Palm Meadows training center in South Florida in 48.80 last Sunday.


“Although I didn’t see the work, I am told (El Padrino) galloped out very well,” said Beckman.




Trainer Graham Motion, who saddled Team Valor’s Animal Kingdom to win last year’s Kentucky Derby, has also sent two horses to New Orleans for stakes races on Saturday’s Louisiana Derby Preview Day.


Team Valor International’s Table Three Ten, a gray 3-year-old daughter of El Prado, is now on the grounds to contest Saturday’s Grade III Rachel Alexandra Stakes, the final local prep for the $500,000 Fair Grounds Oaks March 31, while Augustin Stable’s Smart Bid is the 3-1 projected favorite for Saturday’s  Grade III Fair Grounds Handicap on the Stall-Wilson turf course a the final designed prep for the $400,000 Mervin Muniz Memorial Handicap to be run over that local lawn on April 1.


“We flew in this morning from Palm Meadows,” said Motion’s assistant Alice Clapham, who accompanied the horses from South Florida. “The trip was good – very uneventful – and that’s always a good thing. Both horses seem to be in very good form.”


Table Three Ten broke her maiden at Fair Grounds this season in her career debut on Nov. 26 for trainer Mike Stidham, and was then sold privately to Team Valor and transferred to the care of Motion in South Florida. She remained undefeated by winning an allowance and $75,000 optional claiming race at Gulfstream Jan. 27,


Smart Bid, winner of last year’s Grade II Mervin Muniz Memorial at Fair Grounds, will be making his first start of the season in Saturday’s $125,000 Fair Grounds Handicap.




George Hicker and Button Stable’s Tres Borrachos, the 7-2 morning line favorite for Saturday’s $125,000 Mineshaft Handicap, arrived in New Orleans on an equine charter out of Southern California on Tuesday.


“Everything is right with us,” said his groom Joe Casteneda, who accompanied Tres Borrachos on his journey. “The flying went well and everything is perfect right now.”


Tres Borrachos most recently finished second in the Grade II San Pasqual Stakes at Santa Anita Jan. 7 and was runner-up by half-length in Hollywood’s Grade II Native Diver Handicap before that on Dec. 3.



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