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Breeders' Cup 2017

LA Derby Early Bird Noms Close Monday

Fair Grounds Race Course
Photo: CDI
Fair Grounds racing secretary Jason Boulet and stakes coordinator Scott Jones remind horsemen that “Early Bird” nominations to the 99th running of the Grade II Louisiana Derby – to be contested at nine furlongs and for a purse of $1 million for the second time this year – close this Monday, December 12.


Early bird nominations to the annual centerpiece of the Fair Grounds meeting are $500 and also include automatic nominations to the Grade III, $100,000 Lecomte Stakes, to be run at one mile and 70 yards on Road to the Derby Kickoff Day Presented by Hotel Monteleone (six stakes worth $650,000, including the Lecomte) on Jan. 21, as well as the Grade II, $300,000 Risen Star Stakes, to be contested at 1 1/16-miles on Louisiana Derby Preview Day Presented by Lamarque Ford (six stakes worth $885,000, including the Risen Star Stakes) on Feb. 25.


Last year’s Louisiana Derby winner Pants On Fire, owned by George and Lori Hall, was an Early Bird nomination to the first seven-figure running of the New Orleans fixture, as were Twin Creeks Racing Stables’ Mission Impazible, Vinery Stables and Fox Hill Farm’s Friesan Fire, Winchell Thoroughbreds’ Pyro and Michael and Doreen Tabor’s Circular Quay, the previous Louisiana Derby winners in the years since the Fair Grounds reopened following Hurricane Katrina.


All but Mission Impazible ran in either the Lecomte or the Risen Star to prepare for the Louisiana Derby, with Friesan Fire joining Edmund Gann’s Peace Rules and William Farish III’s Line In The Sand as the only horses to sweep all three races of the local sophomore series.



Terry Hamilton’s Hammers Terror, who scored an impressive 2 3/4-length victory in Thursday’s Fair Grounds feature, stamped himself as one to watch in the weeks leading up to the Grade III Lecomte Stakes on Jan. 21.


The juvenile son of Artie Schiller out of a Lord Avie mare will begin the celebration of his 3-year-old season on New Year’s Day and would appear to be a prime candidate for Fair Grounds’ sophomore series, which gets underway during that Road to the Derby Kickoff Day program.


“That’s the plan right now – to shoot for the Lecomte,” said trainer Mike Stidham Friday morning after saddling two winners at Fair Grounds the previous afternoon. “Hammers Terror came out of his race yesterday in good order, and as long as he continues to do well (the Lecomte) would seem to be a good spot for him.”


Stidham was asked to give some background information on Hammers Terror’s owner, Terry Hamilton.


“He’s a Canadian guy and I’ve had horses for him for about a year and a half, now,” said Stidham. “I believe he’s had horses up there in Canada for a number of years, including some harness horses, but he seems to be getting more involved with Thoroughbreds lately.”



Jockey James Graham, who won the riding crown at Arlington Park last summer and has finished second twice in the Fair Grounds standings in recent seasons, scored at hat trick Thursday to move one win behind Fair Grounds’ defending jockey champion and current local leader Rosie Napravnik entering Friday’s race day.


The Irish-born Graham was aboard Terry Hamilton’s Grade III Lecomte Stakes candidate Hammers Terror in Thursday’s feature, but also scored with Stone Farm’s Cat Lore, also trained by Mike Stidham, in Thursday’s previous race and was astride the victorious Raiseanothergator, owned by Pop-A-Top LLC and trained by Tom Amoss, in Thursday’s third race.



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