Alex and JoAnn Lieblong’s Telling, winner of the last two
renewals of Saratoga’s prestigious Grade I Sword
Dancer Invitational Handicap, will journey to New Orleans
later this week from his winter home in Hot
Springs, Arkansas, to
shoulder the top impost of 122 pounds in the Grade III Fair Grounds Handicap
over the Stall-Wilson turf course this Saturday.
The Fair Grounds Handicap is designed as the final major prep for the Grade II
Mervin Muniz Memorial Handicap March 26 as the top grass race of the New Orleans
oval’s winter Thoroughbred racing season contested on Louisiana Derby Day.
“We didn’t decide to send him there until yesterday,” said trainer Steve Hobby
while speaking over the phone from Oaklawn Sunday morning during training
hours. “We’ll blow him out once more here tomorrow and send him over there
later in the week. We’ve had a horrible winter up here, but he’s been doing
super and we’re anxious to get a race into him.”
Telling, a 7-year-old son of A.P. Indy out of a Deputy Minister mare, has not run
since finishing sixth in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Turf at Churchill Downs Nov.
6. His most recent work was five furlongs in 1:04.20 in the mud at Oaklawn Feb.
7 but he also had two five furlong moves in January at the central Arkansas oval.
Following his Sword Dancer score last Aug. 14 when dismissed at 10-1 in the
wagering, Telling ran fifth in Belmont’s Grade I Joe Hirsch Turf Classic
Invitational when compromised by yielding ground seven weeks later on Oct. 2.
Telling also captured the 2009 Sword Dancer Invitational when overlooked at
33-1 by the upstate New York
“This race Saturday (at about nine furlongs) is a little shorter than he’s used
to,” said Hobby, “but he hasn’t run in awhile so he’s fresh. If there was ever
a time to run him short this is it.”
Expected to face Telling in the Fair Grounds Handicap as of Sunday morning were
David Holloway Racing’s Dubious Miss (117), Millennium Farms and Mike McCarty’s
Expansion (118), W. S. Farish’s Hidden Glance (115), Henry Pabst’s Joinem
(115), Michael Stinson’s Le Grand Cru (116), Wildenstein Stable’s Loup Breton
(120), Rose Mary Chandler’s Skip a Smile (113), and Estrorace’s Workin for Hops
Feel The Thunder Stable’s Argentine-bred Gran Estreno (120), winner of Fair
Grounds’ Grade III E. R. Bradley Handicap Jan. 22 as the first leg of Fair
Grounds three-race grass series for older horses, was still a possibility for
the Fair Grounds Handicap as of Sunday morning.
LANERIE LEAPFROGS TO FIFTH IN LOCAL STANDINGS WITH 4-WIN SATURDAY
Louisiana native reinsman Corey Lanerie, who passed the 3,000-career win
milestone earlier this month, rode four winner’s Saturday at Fair Grounds to
leapfrog from seventh to fifth in the local standings entering Sunday’s race
Lanerie won Saturday’s third race on Gallant Stable’s Majestic
Harbor for trainer Paul McGee, the
eighth aboard Richard, Bertram and Elaine Klein’s Eye Opener for conditioner
Steve Margolis, the featured $60,000 Pelleteri Stakes astride Mrs. Yoshio
Fujita’s Ravi’s Song for trainer Carl Bowman
and the finale on Robert Rockwell’s Tide Rising for conditioner Donald Hecker.