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Breeders' Cup 2017

Fair Grounds: Hawaakom Looks Sharp for Peitz

Fair Grounds Race Course
Photo: CDI

Shadwell Farm may have bred another runner based on the way the 2-year-old Hawaakom broke his maiden Saturday afternoon at Fair Grounds.

After dropping back steadily during the early part of Saturday’s mile and 70-yard test for juveniles, the son of 2006 Belmont Stakes winner Jazil rallied outside the leaders despite drifting in and drew clear late for a length and a half score under an attentive ride by jockey Leandro Goncalves.

“I guess you could say he’s my Derby horse now,” joked his trainer Danny Peitz, speaking from Oaklawn Park Wednesday morning shortly before embarking on a journey to New Orleans to check on the string he has stabled at Fair Grounds. “I’ll say that because he’s the only 2-year-old I have that has won going over a distance of ground.”

All kidding aside, Hawaakom – based on his breeding alone – may turn out to be just that. Despite the fact that he returned a $75.60 win mutuel last weekend, the homebred has shown consistent improvement in his training.

“He ran seventh in his first and only other start at Churchill (Nov. 7),” Peitz said, “but that race was at six furlongs and I’ve thought all along that this one would be more of a distance horse. The rider who rode him that day thought he ran very green but said this colt would show a little more ability when we started to stretch him out.

“I’m kicking myself for not throwing at least a couple of dollars on him the other day,” Peitz said. “I thought he’d do better going two turns, but there I was last weekend just sitting on my hands.

“Last year, I had another son of Jazil named Najjaar who was going to be my Derby horse,” said Peitz. “He showed a lot of late run in the (Grade II) Rebel here at Oaklawn but didn’t run that race back when I put him in the (Grade I) Arkansas Derby. After that I took him to Chicago and he ran third behind Silver Max in the Arlington Classic, but he put a little chip in his ankle right after that race and he’s just started back in his training with his first work last Friday. He can run on grass or dirt so you may see him coming to Fair Grounds a little later in the season.

“I don’t know if this colt (Hawaakom) has that kind of ability or not,” said Peitz, “but right now he’s got to be my Derby horse. I don’t have any others.”

Was Hawaakom a possibility for the Grade III Lecomte Stakes Jan. 19 at Fair Grounds?

“I’m not sure,” said Peitz, “but I’m definitely not going to say ‘No.’”

What about the colt’s name? What does it mean in Arabic?

“I have no idea,” Peitz said. “I’m not even sure how to pronounce it. All the announcers have called it one way and I’ve always pronounced it differently. I don’t know who’s right. Maybe the way I’ve been saying it is just me speaking in my ‘Arky-Arabic.’”


No one knows more about hurricanes than native New Orleanians, and their heartfelt response to both in person and with monetary contributions to the victims of Hurricane Sandy has always been indigenous to the character of Louisianans.

One member of the Fair Grounds family – track announcer John G. Dooley – is a native of Staten Island, NY, and returned home to help his mother Mary Anne ride through that storm.

“Having come to Fair Grounds as the announcer for the first time pre-Katrina for the 2004-2005 meeting, I knew what kind of damage hurricanes can do,” said Dooley, who went to Shreveport for the abbreviated Fair Grounds-at-Louisiana Downs meet the following season. “I knew all too well the path that Sandy was taking so I went home to my mother’s house to see her through the coming storm.

“My mother’s apartment building sits on a hill and my mother’s unit is on the second floor,” said Dooley, “so we had relatively minor damage. We did lose power for four days, so of course we had no heat, but other than that, we were quite lucky compared to a lot of other people on Staten Island.

“However, when we finally did get our power back, ironically, it was an Alabama-based power company that restored it,” said Dooley. “We got power back the night before the LSU-Alabama game, and with me being an avid LSU fan, I was really looking forward to seeing my team beat Alabama, but you know how that turned out.”


Brereton Jones’s Mark Valeski, hero of Belmont’s Grade II Peter Pan last May 12 and runner-up in Fair Grounds’ Grade II Louisiana Derby and Grade II Risen Star Stakes before that, breezed a half-mile Wednesday morning in 48.20 at Fair Grounds in what was his third work back since being returned to training this winter at the Crescent City oval.

Naveed Chowhan’s Seaneen Girl, heroine of Churchill’s Grade II Golden Rod closing weekend at Churchill Downs last month and a prospective starter in Fair Grounds’ $125,000 Silverbulletday Stakes Jan. 19, breezed five furlongs Tuesday in 1:02.80.


Irish-born jockey James Graham took off his mounts on Wednesday to return to Ireland to be with his father.

“His father has taken ill and he’s at the airport right now trying to get back to Ireland,” said Graham’s agent Britt McGehee. “He’ll probably be gone until Sunday night and won’t be back riding until next week’s races. He’s doing the right thing.”

Louisiana-born jockey Mark Guidry texted Fair Grounds officials Wednesday he was taking off his mounts due to “fighting a bad cold.”

New Jersey-born jockey Rosie Napravnik, currently leading the Fair Grounds standings, took off the remainder of her mounts Wednesday due to “not feeling well” after riding in the opener aboard a filly who had to be pulled up.



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