Fair Grounds Barn Notes: Friday, January 27

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· Equation Looks to Stay Undefeated in Big Easy
· Casse Taking His Time With Tour de Force


A promising, but lightly raced turf sprinter, Ben McElroy’s Equation makes her 4-year-old bow and first start for trainer Brendan Walsh when the daughter of In Summation breaks from the rail under James Graham in Saturday’s $50,000 Big Easy Overnight Stakes.

“She came to me about six weeks ago and she’s obviously very talented,” Walsh said. “She has not done anything wrong in her races and she’s doing well and seems to be well right now. She’s been working well on the dirt, but I think she’s a nicer filly on the grass.

“I think the (Big Easy) is a good spot for her on Saturday,” Walsh continued. “If she runs to to her form, she’s going to shake it up a bit.”

Bred in Florida by Centaur Farms, the $65,000 OBS April 2015 purchase won her debut over the Turfway Park Polytrack on Apr. 2 and followed that romp with an eye-catching allowance victory in her turf debut, going five furlongs at Arlington International Racecourse over yielding turf on July 31. Given another layoff, she won a second-level allowance at the same distance at Churchill Downs on Nov. 20.

Previously trained by Wesley Ward, Equation has worked twice for Walsh — a pair of easy half-miles in 53 flat and 51.20 on Jan. 14 and 20, respectively.


When one spends $1.35 million of a client’s money for a horse whose pedigree is as imposing as the animal itself and does not get to debut them until the end of their sophomore season, it would naturally follow that patience is the name of the game. Such is the case with John. C. Oxley’s Tour de Force, whose trainer Mark Casse hand-picked the son of Tiznow and half-brother to Grade I winner and useful sire Majestic Warrior for such a lofty price two years ago.

Huge in size, the son of Grade I-winning filly Dream Supreme was not ready to race until Dec. 4 at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots and responded with a smart runner-up effort in a sloppy and sealed six-furlong maiden special weight event. Making a bold move at the top of the stretch that day under Robby Albarado, the bay colt was caught late by Scarf It Down.

Given six weeks to recover, Tour de Force was brought back in a one-mile turf maiden event on Jan. 15, a race that was more chosen because of its two-turn trip than the surface. The well-mannered ‘gentle giant’ of the Casse barn responded with a professional victory under the same journeyman, sitting patiently behind a run-off frontrunner before collaring him turning for home and holding his combatants at bay by nearly three lengths. In the process, he showcased his massive stride, which no doubt was one of the reasons he was purchased in the first place. Future plans are up in the air, but with no Triple Crown or early season ambition, Casse has the unusual luxury of taking his time with a colt whose promise is as expansive as his aforementioned reach.

“He’s a really nice horse,” Casse said. “We’re going to take baby steps with him. We’ve always liked him and, as I’ve said, he’s a beautiful horse. We waited this long and we’ll wait for an a-other-than (allowance) and go from there. I would prefer to get him back on the dirt next time.”

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