Suntracer and Louie Roussel III and Ronnie Lamarque’s
Friendly Banter, second and
third respectively when a neck apart in Chicago’s Grade III Hawthorne
Derby Oct. 15, match strides once again when they top a field of nine in
Friday’s Fair Grounds feature to highlight
the second day of racing at the historic New Orleans oval’s 140th
third-oldest Thoroughbred racing facility opens Thanksgiving Day in
support of a tradition dating back to 1898, but Friday’s headliner is
the 25th anniversary edition of the Woodchopper Stakes, restricted to
sophomores and to be run at about one-mile over
Fair Grounds’ Stall-Wilson turf course.
conditioned by Neil Pessin, was forced to race eight-wide when second by 4 1/2-lengths to All In Stable’s highly regarded
Willcox Inn in the Hawthorne
Derby, but continued with good determination to gain the place
position. In his start before that he was fourth in a $100,000 optional
claiming test when kept wide.
summer, the Illinois-homebred Kitten’s Joy colt finished second to
Willcox Inn in the Arlington Classic and the subsequent American Derby
as the first two legs of
Park’s grassy Mid-America Triple. Defending Fair Grounds riding champion
Rosie Napravnik will be astride in the Woodchopper.
Banter, trained by part-owner Roussel, weakened in the late stages of
the nine-furlong Hawthorne Derby and should appreciate the shorter
distance of Friday’s run. The son of Distorted Humor made the pace in
his only previous turf test in allowance company
at Arlington Sept. 5 and was only beaten a length and a half for all the money. Jockey
Tim Thornton, a native of
Lake Charles, Louisiana, will be in the irons aboard the Kentucky-bred.
the field for the Woodchopper is Columbine Stable’s
J. B.’s Thunder, to be ridden by Robby
Albarado; Equi-Par Inc’s
Mr. Woodrow, Richard Eramia aboard; David Schwartz’s
J Isle, Kerwin Clark; Dwight Sprague’s
Cactus Son, Shane Sellers; Peter Deutsch’s
Adirondack Summer, James Graham; Marathon Farms Inc.’s
Greek Warrior, Jamie Theriot; and Charles Fletcher’s
Beachcombing, Miguel Mena in the saddle.
J.B.’s Thunder, trained by native New Orleanian
Al Stall Jr., could provide stiff competition for the top two. The
entire son of Thunder Gulch won the Grade I Breeders’ Futurity over
Polytrack at Keeneland by four lengths in 2010, failed in the Grade I
Breeders’ Cup Juvenile later that fall, but has
shown improvement since being introduced to turf competition in two
starts this year.