Nine players will take the field for Saturday’s Grade III
Col. E. R. Bradley Handicap over Fair Grounds’
Stall-Wilson turf course, and one of them, Pin Oak Stable’s
Strike Again, is the projected 7-2 second choice in the morning line.
The Col. Bradley is one of two graded races among six stakes slated for Saturday’s expanded 13-race
Road to the Derby Kickoff Day Presented by Hotel Monteleone, and the other Grade III affair – the 66th renewal of the
$100,000 Lecomte Stakes – is the first of a three-race series for sophomores that concludes with the $1 million
Grade II Louisiana Derby March 26.
However, getting back to Saturday’s major turf test, it should be noted that Strike Again defeated the Col. Bradley 5-2 favorite
Gran Estreno, owned by
Feel The Thunder Stable, by three-quarters of a length in their only
encounter here earlier this season in the $60,000
Buddy Diliberto Memorial Handicap Dec. 4, and that fact has Strike Again’s trainer
Malcolm Pierce hoping his 5-year-old son of Dixie Union can, ah, strike again.
hope (Strike Again) runs as well as he did last time,” said Pierce
Wednesday morning of his Pin Oak color bearer who will be ridden once
again by jockey Miguel Mena,
aboard for the Diliberto score. “He has been doing very well since that
last race. We gave him his final breeze last Saturday (a half in 48.60)
and that went well. I believe Mrs. Abercombie
(Pin Oak matron) will be coming in for this race so I hope he runs as
well as he did last time for her sake.
“I am afraid of
Mark Frostad’s horse among all the other good horses in there,” said Pierce, speaking of Sam-Son Farm’s
Red Strike, who was
undefeated in two turf starts at Woodbine last summer while Pierce was
also based at the Canadian oval. “He looked like he was going to become
an outstanding grass horse last summer, and he might
still be undefeated if he hadn’t stumbled to his nose leaving the gate
in his only start down here (the $60,000 Woodchopper Stakes Dec. 31.)
Also, when (Red Strike) finished third in that race down here, the race
had been scheduled for the grass but was taken
off and run on a sloppy main track. Maybe Mark’s horse just doesn’t
like the slop.”
Red Strike is 8-1 in the morning line for Saturday’s Col. Bradley, and the horse will be ridden once again by
James Graham, aboard for the Diliberto, who assured that the bad stumble leaving the gate cost him that win.
Cudney Stables and John Gunther’s
Midnight Mischief, third choice at 9-2 in the morning line for the Col. Bradley, is conditioned by Hall of Fame trainer
Bill Mott and arrived from Mott’s
Payson Park headquarters in
South Florida on Jan. 9.
“He’s an easy horse to ride,” said Mott’s Fair Grounds-based assistant
Mike Kaetzel, who was
aboard for Midnight Mischief’s local half-mile move in 48 flat on Jan.
15. “I was very happy with his breeze, and he’s been training good since
he got here. We wouldn’t run him if Saturday’s
race came off the grass, but as long as it stays on, how the turf
course is rated won’t matter to him.”
ECLIPSE AWARD TRAINERS AL STALL JR., BRET CALHOUN BACK IN BIG EASY
New Orleans native son
Al Stall Jr. and fellow trainer Bret Calhoun, an adopted son of the Crescent City, were both back at their local barns Wednesday morning following appearances at the 40th
annual Eclipse Awards in Miami Beach, Florida, Monday evening.
Stall, who trained Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider’s
Blame to defeat Horse of the Year
Zenyatta in 2010’s Breeders’ Cup Classic, was grateful for Blame’s Eclipse Award as champion of the older male division.
“We were happy to be there,” Stall said of his
South Florida sojourn. “We were happy
to win the championship as older horse. We won just about everything we
wanted with Blame last year. Everything is fine and now we’re moving
Texas-born but now a New Orleans resident with a home immediately
adjacent to Fair Grounds, saddled Martin Racing Stable and Dan Morgan’s
Dubai Majesty to win the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint last November (as well as Carl Moore’s
Chamberlain Bridge in the
Grade II Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint) and was at the Awards ceremony to
watch his mare Dubai Majesty be honored as Eclipse Award champion female
was an amazing thing to have trained a champion like her,” said
Calhoun, “especially one that had such modest beginnings. It was a huge
honor. I don’t know that I’ll ever get to train another champion again,
but I’d like to think of it as a possibility that I can hope for.”
Stall and Calhoun were both honored with proclamations from New Orleans Mayor
Mitch Landrieu at the beginning of the Fair Grounds season recognizing their wins in last year’s Breeders’ Cup.