NEW ORLEANS – Fat Tuesday at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots features an intriguing renewal of the $75,000 Mardi Gras Stakes. At 5½ furlongs over the Stall-Wilson turf course and restricted to fillies and mares, the 2017 edition features the likely swan song of Robert S. Evans’ Mike Stidham-trained Rapid Rhythm, who will try to end her career a perfect 5-for-5 on the local grass.
A multiple stakes winner at this distance, she was a winner last out at these conditions in the $50,000 Battle of New Orleans Stakes on Dec. 3. Jockey James Graham rides from the rail as she takes on seven others.
If Rapid Rhythm does end her solid career undefeated on the local turf, she will have to go through a filly who is undefeated in her career in Ben McElroy’s Equation. A smart winner last out in the $50,000 Big Easy Stakes at this trip, she is a perfect 4-for-4 lifetime and hails from the hot Brendan Walsh barn. Brian Hernandez, Jr., rides from post six. Big Easy runner-up and stakes winner in her own right, Simple Surprise returns for another go at these conditions when she breaks from the outside post under journeyman David Flores. She will carry the respect-commanding maroon colors of Winchell Thoroughbreds, while being conditioned by 13-time meet champion trainer Steve Asmussen.
Classy Louisiana-bred Wheatfield returns to the New Orleans oval for the first time since taking the $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Ladies Sprint on Dec. 10. One race later, she was fourth in the $125,000 American Beauty Stakes at Oaklawn Park and will now mix things up with a turf try for trainer Danny Pish and owner-breeder Tigertail Ranch. Diego Saenz rides from post seven.
The remainder of the Mardi Gras field is comprised of Blip n’ Th Bye (Colby Hernandez, post two), Boom Bam Bing (C. J. McMahon, post three), Clairenation (Miguel Mena, post four) and Lovable Lyss (Marcelino Pedroza, post five).