Fair Grounds Barn Notes: Saturday, February 4

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· Takeoff, Arklow Work Toward Risen Star
· Tom’s Ready Training Well for Stewart
· What What What Possibly Sold
· Ramsey, Maker Stakes Winners Return to the Tab


John C. Oxley’s Takeoff returned to the tab for the first time since finishing a game third in the Grade III $200,000 Lecomte Stakes on Jan. 21. The son of Arch worked five furlongs in a sharp 1:01 flat at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots for trainer Mark Casse, with assistant David Carroll looking on.

“It was a first work back from the race and was a maintenance move,” Carroll said. “He went fine and I’m happy with it. We weren’t asking for anything special. He’s fit, he looks well and came out of his effort well, so all’s well in that regard. Right now, we’re planning on the (Grade II $400,000) Risen Star (on Feb. 25). After that, we’ll decide what will happen with him as far as the (Kentucky) Derby trail, but right now we’re very happy with him.”

In four career starts the now graded stakes-placed dark bay has a victory and two thirds and $53,500 in earnings. Third, 3½ lengths off a swift pace in the Lecomte, the talented colt was game when finishing less than two lengths from victory in the mile and 70-yard event. He earned a sharp 98 Equibase speed figure for his effort — two points above his impressive maiden-breaking effort four weeks prior at the same trip.

Second in said maiden heat and a game fourth — just a head astern Takeoff — in the Lecomte, Donegal Racing’s Arklow was also on the tab on Saturday morning. The Brad Cox-trained, highly regarded maiden worked a half-mile in 49.20, which was his first move since said effort. Cox confirmed last week that the fellow Arch offspring will aim to the Risen Star over a mile and a sixteenth of Fair Grounds’ main course.


Perhaps the most popular horse not to win a race at the 2015-16 Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots meet, Louisiana Derby runner-up and subsequent multiple graded stakes winner Tom’s Ready has returned to serious training for G M B Racing and the Dallas Stewart barn. The son of More Than Ready logged his second move since said return, working a half-mile in an easy 50.60. He was last seen in action when a respectable fifth in the Grade I $1,000,000 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at Santa Anita in early November.

“He’s really done very well since we got him back,” Stewart said. “We brought him back and jogged him for 30 days, a couple miles a day give or take. His weight looks good and he has put on muscle. We will steadily bring him back and then when we know how far we are from being ready for a race, we’ll put a plan together (for the season).”

A graded stakes winner at seven furlongs and a mile — each around one turn — the compact dark bay will likely aim toward similar events in 2017.

“He really loves the one turn races around seventh-eighths and a mile and proved that last year,” Stewart continued. “There are some quality races at Churchill, Belmont and elsewhere for him as far as that goes.”

Stewart also mentioned that he looks forward to his own homebred, Saint’s Fan, returning to action for his sophomore debut next week. The son of Tale of Ekati is entered in the one-mile $100,000 Louisiana Premier Night Prince Stakes at Delta Downs. Colby Hernandez will sub for brother and regular rider Brian Hernandez, Jr. from a rail post. This will be the first opportunity the 2-for-2 chestnut gets to run two turns.

“He’s doing great right now,” Stewart said. “He worked really good yesterday and I’m really looking forward to running him next week at Delta.”

Last out, the uniquely marked Stewart-owned, -trained and -bred colt won the $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Juvenile despite a lethargic start and slightly green rally — an effort that followed an impressive open maiden victory a month prior at Churchill Downs at the same six-furlong trip.


As impressive as Stonestreet Stables’ homebred Valadorna was in her comeback race, the same must be said of Ken Sentel and trainer Merrill Scherer’s What What What. The dark bay daughter of Archarcharch parlayed a sharp victory in a rained-off allowance on Jan. 7 over well-touted Dontmesswithjoanne into a gutsy runner-up effort, losing by less than a length to a Breeders’ Cup runner-up. Said performance did not go unnoticed, as she apparently is being vetted for a possible private sale, according to Scherer.

“I thought she ran her heart out and was very proud of her,” said Scherer. “She was a little tired, but she has been very good for us and consistent. I just had to fiddle with her. She loves going fast, but she’s also a better horse going long, which we figured out.

“I’m probably going to sell her, if all goes well,” he continued. “If I don’t, we’ll likely stay in an allowance race instead of the (Grade III $200,000 Rachel Alexandra) Stakes (on Feb. 25). In her last two starts, she’s ran against two 1-9 shots and beat one and just got beat by the other. She’s a good filly. Everything from start-to-start for her has been a forward move.”

After debuting a seventh at Churchill Downs in May, the gritty, consistent filly has hit the board in 10 consecutive starts, including three victories.


Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey’s Mike Maker-trained stakes-winning duo from Jan. 21 — 5-year-old mare Kitten’s Roar and 5-year-old horse Granny’s Kitten — each returned to the tab for the first time since their respective victories when each working half-miles on Saturday morning.

Kitten’s Roar was swift in her drill, as the $75,000 Marie G. Krantz Memorial victress got the 47.80 bullet. Granny’s Kitten, winner last out in the Grade III $125,000 Col. E. R. Bradley Handicap, went the same trip in 48.40 (ninth of 74). The pair are expected to return on Feb. 25 to compete in their respective divisions’ next big events, the $75,000 Daisy Devine Stakes for the girls and the Grade III $125,000 Fair Grounds Handicap for open company, respectively.

Richard Klein and Bertram Klein’s Brad Cox-trained filly Believe in Bertie — a track record-setter last out for a mile on the Stall-Wilson turf course — was also on the tab. She worked the same distance in 50.80 and is considered possible for the Daisy Devine, which would be the talented filly’s first stakes attempt against older company.

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