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2021 Louisiana Derby Day at the Fair Grounds


Joel Rosario celebrates after Hot Rod Charlie wins the 2021 Louisiana Derby

Date: 03/20/2021

The $1 million TwinSpires Louisiana Derby (G2) is the highlight of the Fair Grounds meeting, and is the major local Kentucky Derby prep race, worth 100 points to the winner as part of the Kentucky Derby Championship Series. Conditions were excellent in New Orleans with mostly sunny skies and temperatures in the low 60's. The main track was rated fast and the Stall-Wilson turf course was good. A field of 8 three-year-olds went to post in this 1 3/16 mile test on Saturday afternoon, with Mandaloun sent off as the 6-5 favorite off his Risen Star (G2) win after finishing third in the Lecomte (G3). In to challenge him included 5-2 second choice Hot Rod Charlie, a close second in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1) but third in the Robert B. Lewis (G3), and 3-1 third choice Proxy, second in both the Lecomte and Risen Star.

First time by in the Louisiana Derby with eventual winner Hot Rod Charlie running up front in the center.

Jockey Joe Talamo sent 7-1 Midnight Bourbon fastest out of the gate through an opening quarter of 23.10 before Hot Rod Charlie took over on the clubhouse turn through fractions of 47.04, 1:11.25, and 1:36.38, with Midnight Bourbon pressing and favorite Mandaloun stalking the lead pair in third. Turning for home, Mandaloun tired badly after a 4 wide trip, as Hot Rod Charlie continued to lead. Kept to task by jockey Joel Rosario, Hot Rod Charlie drew off to win by 2 lengths over Midnight Bourbon in a new track record 1:55.06. It was a head back to 29-1 O Besos third, while Mandaloun checked in 6th beaten 11 3/4 lengths.

Pgm  Horse               Jockey         Win   Place  Show
 5   Hot Rod Charlie     Rosario       7.80    4.40  3.60
 7   Midnight Bourbon    Talamo                7.20  4.40
 8   O Besos             Pedroza                     7.80

Winning Time:  1:55.06

$1 Exacta 5-7                28.20
$1 Trifecta 5-7-8           230.00
$1 Superfecta 5-7-8-4       996.00
Results Chart

Left: Hot Rod Charlie in the winner's circle. Winning co-owner Greg Helm said, "We've got a horse in the Kentucky Derby. This guy (Doug O'Neill's nephew Patrick) knows it (the Kentucky Derby) better than anybody. We've been struggling with this horse to be first every time and he comes in right when we need him." Winning co-owner Patrick O'Neill said, "We are so extremely blessed. I just missed a phone call from Doug and Dennis (O'Neill), my uncles. It's a family affair, but we added friends and we couldn't be more fortunate. What an amazing horse. An amazing sport. We're going to the Kentucky Derby, hopefully, ya know."

Right: Hot Rod Charlie heads back to the barn after the Louisiana Derby. Winning jockey Joel Rosario said, I wanted to get a little position. It didn't look like there was much speed in the race. He broke well and in the first turn I found myself on the lead. Working with him in the morning, he relaxes and you don't have to get him in the race. It worked out really well. He handled the distance very well. Very impressive. With the horse coming on his outside (Midnight Bourbon) he really fought back. He doesn't have to be on the lead. He can do anything. He can be a little bit off the pace and will run the same way."

Left: Hot Rod Charlie enters the paddock before the race. Leandro Mora, assistant to trainer Doug O'Neill, said, "(Hot Rod Charlie) has come a long way. He was very immature. After the Breeders' Cup, we took off about nine weeks. When a horse is sort of on the nervous side, they burn so many calories, it's hard to gain weight. With the time off, he got stronger and totally changed. He started to train like it was his job. The thing about this horse is he doesn't have to go to the front. He went to the front, and he was fine there, so I just let him be there. That was a very good step up today, a really good performance." Mora is the trainer of record for the win as O'Neill is serving a 10 day suspension for a lidocaine positive in California.

Right: Hot Rod Charlie in the post parade.

Left: Second place finisher Midnight Bourbon in the post parade. Jockey Joe Talamo said, "We got a perfect trip and turning for home I had a lot of horse and I thought we had it. We just got outfinished. Hats off to the winner, he ran huge and fought back on me. I think this distance suits this horse and I think he will be fine (going forward)."

Right: Third place finisher O Besos heads out to the track before the race. Trainer Greg Foley said, "He answered that distance question today. He galloped out in front. It would have been nice to finish second. We sure have to think about (the Kentucky Derby). The biggest thing was would he go that far, and I think he answered the ground question as good or better than any of them in there."



Travel Column wins the Fair Grounds Oaks

The distaff counterpart to the Louisiana Derby is the $400,000 TwinSpires Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) for 3-year-old fillies, and worth 100 points to the winner as part of the Kentucky Oaks Championship Series. A field of 7 contested this 1 1/16 mile test, with Golden Rod (G2) winner Travel Column sent off as the 2-1 favorite off her close second in the Rachel Alexandra (G2). In to challenge her included 3-1 second choice Clairiere, winner of the Rachel Alexandra, and 7-2 third choice Li'l Tootsie, making her stakes debut off 2 allowance wins.

Jockey John Velazquez sent 13-1 Souper Sensational to the lead first time by through fractions of 24.35, 48.64, and 1:12.25 while pressed by Travel Column and stalked by Li'l Tootsie. Turning for home Travel Column came out 4 wide to sweep to the front through 1 mile in 1:36.27. Kept to task by Florent Geroux, Travel Column drew off to win by 2 3/4 lengths over late-running Clairiere in 1:42.75. It was another 2 lengths back to Souper Sensational third.

Results Chart

Left: Travel Column in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Brad Cox said, "She got a good, clean trip. We knew it wouldn't be that quick up front. I think it was ideal. She responded well. When you're trying to win races like the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks you have to keep moving forward. She's a talented filly. She was an expensive yearling and it paid off. We can go to the last Friday in April. She puts a lot in her works, so I think six weeks will be a good thing for her."

Right: Florent Geroux celebrates aboard Travel Column after the race.

Left: Travel Column heads into the paddock. Winning jockey Florent Geroux said, "We knew she was a very nice filly from day one. Everything went great. She put me in race and I wanted to stay as quiet as I could. She showed a very nice kick and put them away pretty easy. As a 2-year-old she was a little hot blooded. She got a little bit excited. Over the winter from 2-to-3 she showed improvement in all areas, which is what you want to see. Physically too. We are excited. We know she likes Churchill and her versatility is her greatest asset. She can stay close, but in the Golden Rod she was trapped and overcame adversity."

Right: Travel Column in the post parade.

Left: Second place finisher Clairiere heads into the paddock. Jockey Joe Talamo said, "The pace didn't suit us today, it kind of hurt us, the winner was right off of it. Nonetheless, around the turn I was smiling because she was making up some ground pretty good. Pace makes the race and obviously Travel Column had a perfect trip. I'll tell you what, I think any added distance will definitely be a help. She doesn't do a thing wrong and I don't think you've seen the best of this filly."

Right: Third place finisher Souper Sensational in the post parade. David Carroll, assistant to trainer Mark Casse said, "The plan was to try to be aggressive because we knew there was no speed in there. John (Velazquez, jockey) said she caught the break and set nice fractions. We were very proud of her. We just got caught (for second) at the end. This is something we can build on."


The fillies break from the gate for the Fair Grounds Oaks.



Colonel Liam wins the Muniz Memorial Classic

The $300,000 Muniz Memorial Classic (G2) featured a field of 10 older horses going 1 1/8 miles on the turf. Colonel Liam was sent off as the 7-10 favorite off wins in the Tropical Park Derby and Pegasus World Cup Turf (G1). In to challenge him included 9-2 second choice Spooky Channel, winner of the John B. Connelly (G3), and 19-2 third choice Olympic Runner, 2nd in the Canadian Turf (G3).

Jockey James Graham sent 24-1 Two Emmys to the lead first time by through fractions of 23.79, 49.08, and 1:14.51 while pressed by 34-1 Peace Achieved and stalked by 11-1 Pixelate. Turning fo home, jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. moved Colonel Liam 4th early ou 3 wide and the favorite swept to the front through 1 mile in 1:36.86. Kept to task by Ortiz, Colonel Liam drew off late to win by 1 1/2 lengths over Two Emmys in 1:48.33. It was another 3 1/2 lengths back to 10-1 Logical Myth third.

Results Chart


Left: Colonel Liam in the winner's circle. Winning owner Robert Low said, "We were surprised. We know he's a nice horse, and he's done some good work. We were just kind of sitting on the edge of our chairs; he showed up at Gulfstream and the rest is history." Trainer Todd Pletcher added, "The way he galloped out around the turn gives us encouragement that he'll handle longer distances." He will go next in the Old Forester Turf Classic (G1) and then the Manhattan (G1).

Right: Colonel Liam returns after the race. Winning jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. said, "He's a really, really nice horse. He makes it looks easy. You can see he's so smart, got a lot of class, is so kind. You don't see too many like that."


Left: Second place finisher Two Emmys heads into the paddock. Jockey James Graham said, "He's a cool little horse. I wasn't expecting to be on the lead. I ended up being placed there but I got him to relax, he was happy and comfortable. I tried to get away around the turn, I gave him a breather. I tried to steal a length or two on them but…the winner was the best horse." 

Right: Third place finisher Logical Myth in the post parade. The Joe Sharp trainee improved his record to 7 wins, 3 seconds, and 2 thirds in 20 starts, earning $315,536 for owner JPS Racing.



Chess Chief wins the New Orleans Classic.

Kicking off the graded stakes quartet was the $400,000 New Orleans Classic (G2) featuring a field of 7 older horses going 1 1/8 miles on the main track. Razorback Handicap (G3) third place finisher Owendale was sent off as the 9-10 favorite over 5-1 Chess Chief, 3rd in the Mineshaft (G3), and 11-2 Olliemyboy, winner of 2 straight allowance races.

Jockey John Velazquez sent 6-1 fourth choice Roadster to the lead first time by and he set fractions of 24.11, 48.30, and 1:11.64 while pressed by Owendale and stalked by Olliemyboy. Turning for home Roadster tired allowing Owendale to inherit the front through 1 mile in 1:36.08 but Chess Chief, 5th early under Luis Saez, came out 5 wide for room and rallied to get up by a head in 1:49.24. It was another 1/2 length back to 9-1 Enforceable third.

Results Chart

Left: Chess Chief in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Dallas Stewart said, "You just have to put yourself in the hands of your jockey. Luis thought the leaders moved a little soon and he caught them at the wire. We needed every inch of that long stretch. It's a special win for the family, being from New Orleans. It's a shame how it came down with (James Coleman Jr.) who started the stable passing away and not being here, but it was a great moment for Jamie and everyone else."

Right: Chess Chief in the post parade.

Left: Second place finisher and beaten favorite Owendale in the post parade. The Brad Cox trainee improved his record to 6 wins, 5 seconds, and 4 thirds in 22 starts, earning $1,488,435 for owner Rupp Racing.

Right: Third place finisher Enforceable heads into the paddock. The Mark Casse trainee improved his record to 3 wins, 2 seconds, and 4 thirds in 16 starts, earning $478,673 for owner John Oxley.



Who Took the Money wins the Crescent City Derby.

The $100,000 Crescent City Derby featured a field of 12 Louisiana-bred 3-year-olds going 1 1/16 miles on the main track. Despite flipping in the post parade and unseating Gabriel Saez, running loose before caught by outriders, Who Took the Money was sent off as the 1-2 favorite over 9-2 Unanimously and 5-1 Highland Creek.

Jockey Florent Geroux sent 22-1 Wise Verdict to the lead first time by through fractions of 24.45 and 48.99 while pressed by 30-1 Wrongwayhighway and Highland Creek. On the far turn Wrongwayhighway took over through 3/4 in 1:13.89 before tiring, as favorite Who Took the Money came through on the inside to take the lead through 1 mile in 1:38.28, then held off Highland Creek to win by a neck in 1:44.73. It was another neck back to late-running Unanimously third.

Results Chart

Left: Eventual winner and heavy favorite Who Took the Money gets loose before the race. He ran counter clockwise around 3/4 of the track before getting caught. Winnng trainer Bret Calhoun said, "He's a big strong horse and he's still learning is lessons. Both the horse and jockey were very game in their performances." 

Right: Everyone watches workers try to right the starting gate after it ran off the edge of the track and broke a water line when they were trying to take it away after the start of the Crescent City Derby.



Australasia wins the Crescent City Oaks.

Kicking off the stakes action and the 14 race card on Saturday was the $100,000 Crescent City Oaks for Louisiana-bred 3-year-old fillies going 1 mile 70 yards on the main track. Australasia was the 1-10 favorite in the field of 5 over 6-1 Big Time and 13-2 Eileen Alexandra.

Jockey Gabriel Saez sent 25-1 Winning Romance to the lead through fractions of 23.62, 46.83, and 1:11.84 while pressed by Australasia and stalked by Eileen Alexandra. Turning for home Australasia took over through 1 mile in 1:38.32, and drew off to win by 2 3/4 lengths over Winning Romance in 1:42.72. It was another 3 3/4 lengths back to Big Time third.

Winning trainer Brad Cox said, "We may have taken some low-hanging fruit today but now she's 4-for-4 and she deserves an opportunity against open company; we'll do that next time but I'm not sure where. I'm just proud of what she did today. They rode along pretty good up front and she finished up really well and did what she was supposed to do. Any time a horse is 4-for-4 they have to have ability and she stepped up and ran a good race today." 

Results Chart



Summer in Saratoga wins the Tom Benson Memorial Stakes .

A field of 12 older fillies and mares contested the $150,000 Tom Benson Memorial Stakes over 1 1/16 miles on the turf. Dalika was the 5-2 favorite over 5-1 Catch a Bid and 6-1 Dominga.

Jockey Adam Beschizza sent 55-1 His Glory to lead through fractions of 23.71, 47.68, and 1:12.08 while pressed by Dominga and stalked by Dalika. Turning for home, His Glory and Dalika tired badly as 11-1 Joy Epifora gained the lead through 1 mile in 1:36.19 before also fading. 9-1 Summer in Saratoga, 8th early, came through between horses to win by a neck over Dominga in 1:42.15. It was another 3/4 length back to 10-1 Winning Envelope third, while favorite Dalika checked in 9th.

Winning trainer Joe Sharp said, "Obviously it's nice to have a prep but the filly was giving us all the signs she was ready especially in her last couple works. A filly like that with the muscle memory, when they show you they're ready they can usually run to a top performance off a layoff like that. The professionalism she showed today has us pretty excited as far what you do with her moving forward." 

Results Chart



Classy John wins the Costa Rising Stakes.

The $100,000 Costa Rising Stakes featured a field of 10 Louisiana-bred older horses sprinting 5 1/2 furlongs on the turf. No Parole was sent off as the 2-5 favorite over 4-1 Monte Man and 12-1 Yankee Seven.

Jockey James Graham sent 16-1 X Clown to lead through fractions of 22.59 and 45.54 while pressed by 29-1 Classy John and stalked by No Parole. Into the stretch Classy John took over through 5f in 57.02 and held off X Clown in a duel to win by a head in 1:03.17. It was another 1/2 length back to Monte Man third, and 1/2 more to favorite No Parole fourth.

Winning trainer Dallas Stewart said, "We were struggling a little bit so we tried him on the grass and he ran OK the first time and the second time he ran great. Today was just an awesome performance. He beat a grade 1 winner today and a horse (Monte Man) who has won 17 races, so I think that establishes himself as a nice horse on the turf." 

Results Chart

2019 Louisiana Derby won by By My Standards
2018 Louisiana Derby won by Noble Indy
2017 Louisiana Derby won by Girvin
2016 Louisiana Derby won by Gun Runner
2015 Louisiana Derby won by International Star
2014 Louisiana Derby won by Vicar's In Trouble
2013 Louisiana Derby won by Revolutionary
2011 Louisiana Derby won by Pants On Fire
2008 Louisiana Derby won by Pyro
2007 Louisiana Derby won by Circular Key

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