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2011 Louisiana Derby Day at the Fair Grounds

Pants On Fire and Anna Napravnik after the 2011 Louisiana Derby

Date: 03/26/2011

The $1 million Louisiana Derby (G2) is the highlight of the Fair Grounds meeting, and is the major local prep for the Kentucky Derby and Triple Crown. A field of 12 three-year-olds went to post in this 1 1/8 mile test on Saturday afternoon under clear skies at the New Orleans oval, with Mucho Macho Man sent off as the 3-2 choice off his win in the Risen Star (G2) last out. In to challenge him included 7-2 second choice Elite Alex, in from Oaklawn where he was third in the Southwest (G3), and 4-1 third choice Machen, fourth in the Risen Star after winning his first two starts.

Just after the start with Pants On Fire up front on the rail and Mucho Macho Man to the center.

Jockey James Graham sent 111-1 longest shot Liondrive to the lead soon after the start and he set fractions of 23.43, 47.53, and 1:12.02 over the fast track while being pressed by 6-1 Pants On Fire to his outside. After 5 furlongs Liondrive tired and stopped badly, allowing Pants On Fire to inherit the lead through 1 mile in 1:37.24, with Mucho Macho Man close behind. 36-1 Nehro, who stalked the pacesetters in 3rd early, came through late to challenge but Pants On Fire held him off to win by a neck in 1:49.92. It was just 1/2 a length back to favorite Mucho Macho Man third.

Pgm  Horse              Jockey         Win   Place  Show
 1A  Pants On Fire      Napravnik    14.60    7.80  4.80
 2   Nehro              Baze                 31.60 11.40
 4   Mucho Macho Man    Naragh                      2.80

Winning Time:  1:49.92

$2 Exacta 1-2               459.00
$2 Trifecta 1-2-4         1,785.40
$2 Superfecta 1-2-4-11    9,277.20
Results Chart

Left: The trophy presentation for the Louisiana Derby. Winning trainer Kelly Breen said, "I said it all week, this horse is really blossoming. You know, sometimes you see it and sometimes you don't, and sometimes you look back and say, 'Hey, he was doing a little bit better.' But we saw it. This horse, he was a little sick, got over it, shipped back and forth, you know, three times here. This is his third time; he's got frequent flyer miles. We stamped our ticket, hopefully the horse comes out of the race in good order and we'll be on to Churchill."

Right: Pants On Fire in the post parade. Winning jockey Rosie Napravnik, who won the meet's riding title and is the first female jockey to win the Louisiana Derby, said, "He had a lot of heart. They said he was best on the lead. And when the 5-horse went out in front of us, I said if he's stuck outside, hopefully he's still well off. But he ran with as much heart as a horse can run with down the lane. Mucho Macho Man came up next to us and he just dug in and he really finished with all heart."

Left: Second place finisher Nehro in the post parade. His trainer Steve Asmussen said, "I'm very pleased with his effort. You have to think about the Arkansas Derby but I'll have to talk to the boss about that one." Jockey Michael Baze added, "I saved ground and everything worked out nice. It made it tougher to catch them but he made a real strong run. A little traffic trouble at the quarter-pole but he went on through no problem."

Right: Third place finisher Mucho Macho Man in the post parade. His trainer Kathy Ritvo said, "The horse blew his shoe. One of the gate guys came over and handed it to me. Apparently he stepped on it right out of the gate and ran the whole race without that shoe. I'll find out which one it was when I get back to the barn." Jockey Rajiv Maragh added, "He didn't sustain the run that he looked like he was making at the 1/4 pole. He settled easy early so I was expecting him to finish stronger than he did. I had a 110% chance to win turning for home but he just couldn't sustain his run."

Daisy Devine wins the Fair Grounds Oaks.

The distaff counterpart to the Louisiana Derby is the $500,000 Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) for 3-year-old fillies prepping for the Kentucky Oaks. A field of 9 contested this 1 1/16 mile trip on the main track, with Inglorious sent off as the 6-5 choice off her second place finish in the Rachel Alexandra (G3) last out. In to challenge her included 9-2 second choice Daisy Devine, second in the Silverbulletday last out, and 5-1 third choice Niji's Grand Girl, off a third place finish in the Florida Oaks at Tampa Bay Downs.

21-1 Grandacious was sent to the early lead by James Campbell and she set fractions of 24.21, 48.50, and 1:13.14 over the fast track with Daisy Devine tracking her to the outside. Entering the stretch, Grandacious tired allowing Daisy Devine to take over and open up a 2 length advantage at the 1/8 pole. 8-1 St. John's River, 7th early, launched a late rally but Daisy Devine held her off by 1/2 a length to win in 1:44.25. It was another 1 3/4 lengths back to late-running Niji's Grand Girl third, and another 1/2 length to favorite Inglorious fourth.

Results Chart

Left: Daisy Devine in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Andrew McKeever said, "That was a great result. She trained super going into the race. We were confident. We skipped the Rachel Alexandra and trained her into the race and that did her a lot of good. That was a perfect trip today."

Right: Daisy Devine in the post parade. Winning James Graham said, "She's got a high closing gear. Picks up from it and does what you ask her to do. I told the trainer in the paddock that they'll have to run to outrun her."

Left: Second place finisher St. John's River in the post parade. Her trainer Andy Leggio Jr. said, "She ran her race and she got outrun. She ran a great race. I knew she was that good; that's why she was in there. We're going to Keeneland and we're not sure what after that. We thought if she'd win this race we'd run her in the Kentucky Oaks and we still have that in the back of our minds. If the race had been a little bit longer we would've won it."

Right: Third place finisher Niji's Grand Girl in the post parade. Her trainer Ken McPeek said, "She's such a hard tryer. We may try her there (in the Kentucky Oaks). She broke her maiden there. We'll see. She ran a good race and at this point we're just trying to get her cooled out. Whether she runs in the Kentucky Oaks and all that depends on how she does between now and then. It's possible; I'm not going to rule it out."

Fourth place finisher and beaten favorite Inglorious in the post parade. Her jockey Chantal Sutherland said, "She broke really good; Josie's schooled her in the gate. She felt good and everything. We came to the stretch and usually she has a huge punch and today we had no punch. It's pretty hot today and could've been a whole lot of things, but I know what kind of filly she is. To be fourth is pretty good. She was exactly herself but you never know until you're on them. From Josie's point of view, she's absolutely perfect."

Smart Bid wins the Mervin H. Muniz Memorial Handicap over Expansion.

The $400,000 Mervin H. Muniz Jr. Memorial Handicap (G2) featured a field of 8 older horses going about 1 1/8 miles on the turf. Moryba was the 8-5 favorite off an allowance win last out, over 3-1 second choice Smart Bid off a close second in the Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap (G1), and 7-2 Sleepless Knight, second in the Fair Grounds Handicap (G3) last out.

4-1 fourth choice Workin for Hops battled for the lead with Moryba through fractions of 24.93, 49.80, and 1:14.05 over the firm course, with Smart Bid stalking them third. 13-1 Expansion closed fast on the outside from 5th early, but Smart Bid moved sooner and held him off by a nose in 1:49.97. It was just a head back to Moryba third, and a neck to Workin for Hops fourth.

Results Chart

Left: Smart Bid returns after the race.

Right: Smart Bid in the winner's circle. Winning jockey Edgar Prado said, "She broke nice and I was in a good spot all the way around. When I called he was there for me. He fought real hard when he saw the other horse coming. I am very proud of this horse. I was very confident, especially with the long stretch. I was worried that I was going to lose ground. He hung in real well with both the distance and the ground."

Left: Second place finisher Expansion in the post parade. His jockey Gerard Melancon said, "When he decided to run, he just turned it on like that. Early on, I didn't know what it was, whether he was not handling the track or what. But once he switched leads, he really turned it on."

Right: Third place finisher and beaten favroite Moryba in the post parade. His jockey Kent Desormeaux said, "I thought I was home. To put up a run like that and get caught is kind of disheartening, but it's good to know he's got a run like that. He's already proven to be a legitimate Grade 1 horse."

Mission Impazible wins the New Orleans Handicap.

The $400,000 New Orleans Handicap (G2) featured a field of 8 older horses going 1 1/8 miles on the main track. Giant Oak was sent off as the 3-2 favorite off his win in the Donn Handicap (G1) at Gulfstream. In to challenge him included 8-5 second choice Mission Impazible, a close second in the Mineshaft Handicap (G3) last out, and 7-1 third choice Demarcation, winner of the Mineshaft.

9-1 Birdrun and 8-5 Mission Impazible duelled for the lead for the first 6 furlongs through fractions of 24.05, 48.46, and 1:12.65, with 8-1 Apart stalking them in third. Entering the stretch, Birdrun tired allowing Mission Impazible to open up by 3 lengths through 1 mile in 1:36.84. Apart gained on him late but was left with too much ground to recover as Mission Impazible cruised under the line 1 1/2 lengths clear in 1:49.02. It was just a head back to late-running favorite Giant Oak third.

Results Chart

Left: Mission Impazible in the winner's circle. Michael Dilger, assistant to winning trainer Todd Pletcher said, "He just likes it here. He's been very relaxed all week and the last time he came here it took him a couple of days to settle." Steve Davison, managing partner of ownership group Twin Creeks Racing Stable added, "We'll go to Churchill for the Alysheba, then the Stephen Foster. That's the plan."

Right: Mission Impazible in the post parade. Winning jockey Garrett Gomez said, "I really anticipated (Birdrun) making the lead, but when I found myself out there I was able to get this horse to shut off a bit inside where I was comfortable. He didn't quit pulling, but it was just enough where he was happy with what was going on and as I long as I kept him happy, I thought that when I got to the far turn that we were going slow enough I could kind of get him on his feet and start stretching the field and he did so."

Left: Second place finisher Apart in the post parade. His trainer Al Stall Jr. said, "He just naturally put himself closer than he's been in his past few races because the pace was slow up front. That's also what helped the winner kick on. He's not at the top level (of competition), but he ran well. We'll just pick our spots with him and let him grind it out. He's that kind of horse."

Right: Third place finisher and beaten favorite Giant Oak in the post parade. His trainer Chris Block said, "I think (the pace) played into it. Shaun said he didn't get into the bridle like he does at Churchill or at Gulfstream." Jockey Shaun Bridgmohan added, "It was a good trip overall. I felt like he didn't take well to the track, unlike his last 3 times. He was spinning his wheels more than anything."

Mambo Galliano wins the Duncan F. Kenner Stakes.

The $150,000 Duncan F. Kenner Stakes featured a field of 8 older horses sprinting 6 furlongs on the main track. The two-horse entry of Cash Refund and Early Return were bet down to 9-10 favoritism over 4-1 Riley Tucker and 9-2 Snapshot. Cash Refund battled for the lead with 6-1 Backtalk through fractions of 21.70 and 44.56. Backtalk took over the lead in mid-stretch but 7-1 Mambo Galliano, 5th early, closed with a rush late to win by 3/4 length in 1:09.24. It was just a neck back to Early Return third.

Winning jockey James Graham said, "It was perfect. They broke quick. I set my horse to go a little early, which got him into a really good position around the turn. I got some daylight turning for home and off he went."

Results Chart

Upperline wins the Bayou Handicap.

The first stakes race on Louisiana Derby Day was the $100,000 Bayou Handicap for older fillies and mares going about 1 1/16 miles on the turf. Upperline was the 6-5 favorite in the 5 horse field over 3-1 Category Seven and 7-2 Forest Uproar. 13-1 Born Indy U.S.A. opened up a 2 1/2 length lead down the backstretch through fractions of 23.94, 48.14, and 1:12.50. Entering the lane, she tired badly and faded to last, allowing Upperline to move up and take over the lead, drawing off late to win by 4 lengths over Category Seven in 1:42.52. It was a head back to Forest Uproar third.

Winning trainer Mike Stidham said, "The race was really impressive. The one thing that worried me a little bit was I knew that in a small field like that they would be floating her out a bit because she was the big favorite. They kind of kept her out on both turns, which never helps, but she overcame it and was really strong through the lane."

Results Chart

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