Fair Grounds Barn Notes: Saturday, March 4

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· Guest Suite Leaning Toward Louisiana Derby
· Hawaakom Heads to New Orleans Handicap
· Jenda’s Agenda Works, Possible for Fair Grounds Oaks
· Eagle Possible for New Orleans Handicap

GUEST SUITE LEANING TOWARD LOUISIANA DERBY

William S. Farish and Lora Jean Kilroy’s homebred gelding Guest Suite has exited his fourth-place finish in the Grade II $400,000 Risen Star Stakes in excellent shape and will move forward on what his connections hope is a Kentucky Derby trail for the talented son of Quality Road. A little farther back than usual last out, the bay charge rallied respectably to be fourth, while ultimately outpaced by winner Girvin – whom he moved alongside on the far turn – in the final eighth of a mile.

“I thought he ran great and I was very happy with him,” Howard said. “He was a little farther back and that didn’t help him any, but that happens sometimes. A mile and an eighth should be a real benefit with him. That being said, I was very impressed with the winner.”

Prior to the Risen Star, Guest Suite was a sharp victor in the Grade III $200,000 Lecomte Stakes over the New Orleans oval – the first of three graded local preps for the Grade I $2,000,000 Kentucky Derby. The final leg, the Grade II $1,000,000 Twinspires.com Louisiana Derby, is possibly on the menu for the talented type.

“It’s something we’re looking at, but I want to discuss it with the owners, obviously,” Howard said. “Before I confirm anything, Mr. Farish and I will get together and see, but he is a horse who will enjoy that extra distance.”

HAWAAKOM HEADS TO NEW ORLEANS HANDICAP

Stephan Smoot and trainer Wes Hawley’s Hawaakom has exited his valiant effort in the Grade III $500,000 Razorback Handicap in top shape for his owner-trainer and will likely head to the Grade II $400,000 New Orleans Handicap on Apr. 1.

“That’s the plan,” Hawley said. “He is at the top of his game right now. He came out great and I think he has a big shot in there.”

Hawaakom is a throwback through and through for Hawley. Claimed from Shadwell Stable in Nov. 2014, the 7-year-old gelded son of Belmont Stakes winner Jazil has made 24 starts for his connections and been victorious seven times, including a pair of stakes victories. He has started 13 times in the last 14 months, including three graded stakes-placings and a fifth in Grade I company.

Two races back, the chestnut Kentucky-bred was a sharp victor in a muddy renewal of the $75,000 Louisiana Stakes over the Fair Grounds surface – a course upon which he has won three of eight and finished in the money six times.

Last out, Hawaakom was valiant, albeit outclassed, when second to Gun Runner in the Razorback and earned the highest Equibase Speed Figure – 116 – of his career.

JENDA’S AGENDA WORKS, POSSIBLE FOR FAIR GROUNDS OAKS

Trainer Larry Jones is pleased with his charge Jenda’s Agenda, whom he bred and co-owns with wife Cindy and Rick Porter’s Fox Hill Farms. The daughter of Proud Citizen and Jones’ multiple graded stakes winner Just Jenda remained perfect from a pair of efforts in her last start and two-turn debut on Feb. 19, defeating another well-regarded filly in Stonetacular by a length in a smart 1:43.51 for a mile and 70 yards.

On Friday, the bay filly worked a swift half-mile in 47.80 over the Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots main track.

“We just wanted to see how she had come out of the race and get a nice work into her,” Jones said. “I thought her race was good. We didn’t have anything planned. We just let her run from the gate and I was especially happy with how she finished. The jockey didn’t ask her too much and she just finished up on her own. We’ll figure out in a week or two what we’re going to do as far as the Oaks.”

EAGLE POSSIBLE FOR NEW ORLEANS HANDICAP

William S. Farish’s Eagle is on the fence for the Grade II $400,000 New Orleans Handicap, according to trainer Neil Howard. The son of Candy Ride (ARG) has exited his effort in the Grade III $125,000 Mineshaft Handicap in good order. Said race was only the fourth time in the colt’s 17-race history in which he failed to hit the board, but the 5-year-old gelding did not fail to run hard and was coming off a significant layoff dating to July.

“He came out really well and I’m very happy with him,” Howard said. “We never know what to expect going into races like that off a layoff. The (New Orleans Handicap) is very probable, but Mr. Farish and I are going to confirm that. I’ll know before long, of course.”

Out of the Mineshaft mare Sea Gull, Eagle was fourth beaten four lengths after flattening out from his rally from the tail of the field, 10 lengths astern. The compact chestnut had last been seen finishing fourth in the Grade II $500,000 Suburban Handicap on July 9.

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