· St. Patrick’s Day Allowance Full of Talent
· Zipessa Eyes Local Stakes for 5-Year-Old Bow
· Egyptian Taking Conservative Route
· Weekend Work Tab
ST. PATRICK’S DAY ALLOWANCE FULL OF TALENT
Friday afternoon will not only be a holiday filled with plenty of celebration of the imbibing sort, but also features an intriguing feature race that could sort out some of the rising stars of the older horse division; some as green in career as the beer to be consumed in abundance.
Going as the eighth race on a 10-race card, the mile and 70-yard event is a conditioned allowance optional claimer ($40,000) topped by multiple graded stakes-placed Forevamo, $1.35 million purchase and two-time local winner Tour de Force and well-regarded, lightly raced gelding General Downs, among seven entered.
Brittlyn Stables’ Forevamo ran well to lose by a nose in his 4-year-old bow behind well-intended Egyptian. Trained by Al Stall, Jr., the runner-up from last year’s Grade II Risen Star Stakes has been training extremely well for his second race back. Stall remarked after the race that the son of Uncle Mo waited on his rival, which may have cost him the race. One would expect him to be a bit farther back this time when leading rider Florent Geroux takes the reins on the 2-1 morning-line favorite from post four.
It would not be a surprise to see John C. Oxley’s Mark Casse-trained Tour de Force go off as the post-time favorite on Friday. The son of Tiznow and Grade I winner and dynamite sprinter Dream Supreme is a half-brother to Grade I winner Majestic Warrior and has acquitted himself quite well in three tries this season to commence his career. Second on debut in a six-furlong maiden in the mud in December, he returned to graduate going two turns on the grass in January and then followed that up with a solid victory against winners on Feb. 16. According to assistant trainer David Carroll, the massive 4-year-old has noticeably progressed since that effort. He breaks from post six with regular rider Robby Albarado.
Charles Fipke’s General Downs has made only five career starts, but was a smart winner last out in allowance company over next-out winners Southside Warrior and Tough Customer. The son of Mineshaft is a half-brother to well-regarded Louisiana Derby prospect Senior Investment and appears to be moving in the right direction for trainer Dallas Stewart. Francisco Torres rides from the rail.
One would be remiss if they ignored Illinois-bred warhorse Valiant City, who hails from the high-percentage barn of Scott Becker for owner William Stiritz. The son of City Zip has won 12 of 29 career starts and three of his last four. A respectable third in the aforementioned Forevamo allowance, the graded stakes-placed chestnut gelding has more than proven himself at this level. David Flores rides from post two.
The remainder of the field is comprised of Call the Colonel (Miguel Mena, post three), Only in America (Jose Valdivia, Jr., post five) and Salsa’s Return (Gabriel Saez, post seven).
ZIPESSA EYES LOCAL STAKES FOR 5-YEAR-OLD BOW
Empyrean Stables’ Zipessa has been training forwardly at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots toward her 5-year-old bow. The Grade I-placed daughter of City Zip has not raced since finishing a solid fifth in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf at Santa Anita in early November and is on course to possibly make her seasonal bow before the end of the New Orleans oval’s 2016-17 meet.
On Saturday morning, the chestnut charge worked five furlongs in 1:01.60. Such was her fourth weekly work following a pair of half-mile drills and a three-furlong comeback work to get her rolling when she returned to the tab on Feb. 20.
“She’s really doing great,” trainer Mike Stidham said. “She worked really well and she is on schedule. I think she’s very healthy and happy and we’re looking forward to a good season.
“We’ve got her nominated to the New Orleans Ladies and also nominated her to the Mervin Muniz to keep our options open,” he continued. “If not those, obviously Keeneland and Churchill have options for her.”
Both the $50,000 New Orleans Ladies for turf fillies and Grade II $300,000 Muniz Memorial Handicap are on Apr. 1, Louisiana Derby Day.
EGYPTIAN TAKING CONSERVATIVE ROUTE
Kathryn M. Nikkel and Sanford R. Robertson’s Egyptian has every right to try his hand in the Grade II $400,000 New Orleans Handicap at the end of the month, but he will be likely be taking a more conservative route, according to his connections, as he scales the pyramid of conditions.
Trained by Brendan Walsh, the 4-year-old gelded son of Eskendereya is training forwardly and will likely look for a three-other-than allowance either before the end of the Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots meet or at Keeneland in early April, according to his conditioner. In four starts at the meet, Egyptian has done well, running in two first-level allowances on Dec. 3 and Dec. 29 — placing in the first and winning the latter — and then following the same sequence in second level allowances on Jan. 22 and Feb. 17. All four events have been at a mile and 70 yards.
In just eight starts, the Kentucky-bred who started his career (three starts) in England has three victories and has hit the board five times, overall. Left in his immediate wake when victorious last out were graded stakes-placed foes Forevamo and Valiant City.
Egyptian continued his work on Saturday morning with a five-furlong drill in 1:02.40.
WEEKEND WORK TAB
In addition to the high-profile works of expected Louisiana Derby favorite Girvin (in company with multiple stakes winner Cool Arrow), Dubai World Cup-bound Gun Runner and the swift bullet by high-profile 4-year-old Mo Tom, the weekend had its fair share of addition stakes stars on the tab.
Trainer Brad Cox sent out his array of blacktype performers on Saturday, led by multiple graded stakes winner Cash Control and Chocolate Ride, who each worked a half-mile. The former did so in 47.40 for owners Richard and Bertram Klein. The latter in 48.80 for GenStar Thoroughbreds. Cox barn favorite Dazzling Gem worked the same in 49.20.
Mike Maker sent out Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey’s stakes-winning Granny’s Kitten for a half-mile in 50.80 toward a possible run in the Grade II $300,000 Muniz Memorial on Apr. 1.
Mark Casse’s high-profile duo of John C. Oxley’s 4-year-old Tour de Force and Live Oak Stud’s sophomore Souper Tapit worked together again, negotiating five furlongs in 1:00.40.