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Rosie Napravnik and Vicar's in Trouble after winning the 2014 Lecomte Stakes (G3)
Photos courtesy of Steve Queen
Fair Grounds Race Course hosted its "Road to the Derby Kickoff" card on Saturday with five stakes races. It was sunny and with temperatures in the high 50's at the historic New Orleans oval. The highlight of the afternoon was the $200,000 Lecomte Stakes (G3) for 3-year-olds going 1 mile 70 yards on the main track. The race is a points-scoring race in the Road to the Kentucky Derby series, the points used to determine Derby starting spots. Gold Hawk, undefeated in 2 starts, his debut at Churchill followed by an allowance at Fair Grounds, was sent off as the 6-5 favorite in the field of 9 over 8-5 second choice Vicar's In Trouble, a maiden winner by 13 lengths in his second try last out, and 8-1 third choice Got Shades, fifth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) and making his first start on the main track here.
Vicar's in Trouble wins the 2014 Lecomte Stakes
Jockey Kevin Smith sent 13-1 Roman Unbridled to the lead first time by and he set fractions of 23.71 and 47.80 while stalked by Vicar's In Trouble. On the far turn, Vicar's in Trouble was sent on by jockey Rosie Napravik, taking over the lead through 3/4 in 1:13.11. 11-1 Albano, third early, attempted to close but Vicar's In Trouble drew off through the stretch to win by 6 3/4 lengths in 1:42.57 over the fast main track. It was just 1/2 a length back to late-running favorite Gold Hawk third.
Left: Vicar's in Trouble in the winner's circle.
Right: Vicar's in Trouble in the post parade. Winning jockey Rosie Napravnik said, "He's got natural speed. Options were open. He could have gotten the lead or could have sat off the pace. The horse has been improving. I think he's a little immature but I think he can move up a lot from this race."
The field shortly after the start with Vicar's in Trouble on the outside. Joe Sharp, assistant to winning trainer Mike Maker said, "(Two turns are) something you have to try at this point in the year with a 3-year-old. He's never given us any reason he wouldn't go the distance. He's naturally quick but he is very pliable and has a good brain. It seems like you can handle whatever you ask of him."
Left: Second place finisher Albano in the post parade. Jockey Kerwin Clark said, "Good trip. We got the pace we wanted and went after the leader at the three-eighths pole, but we just got tired. I think the horse might have been a little confused around two turns. He wanted to go and we just kept doing a stop-and-go thing. He's got a lot of upside."
Right: Third place finisher and beaten favorite Gold Hawk in the post parade. Jockey Shaun Bridgmohan said, "He had a smooth trip. The horse has a lot of upside and is only going to get better."
Unbridled Forever wins the 2014 Silverbulletday Stakes
Jockey Rosie Napravnik sent Divine Beauty to the lead and she set fractions of 23.75, 47.87, and 1:12.82 while presed by Istanford. Entering the stretch, Istanford tired while Unbridled Forever, third early, moved up to take over the lead a the 3/16 pole. Kept to task by jockey Robby Albarado, Unbridled Forever opened up late to win by 1 1/2 lengths in 1:43.03. It was another 2 1/4 lengths back from Divine Beauty to late-running 26-1 Express Model third.
Left: Unbridled Forever in the winner's circle.
Right: Winning jockey Robby Albarado celebrates as Unbridled Forever heads to the winner's circle. Albarado said, "She's a phenomenal filly. She's got a lot of buttons to her. Dallas (Stewart, trainer) has been very high on her from the start. I don't feel like we know the depth of her yet."
Left: Trainer Larry Jones leads second place finisher Divine Beauty as she heads out to the track before the race. Jockey Rosie Napravnik said, "We had a great trip. I thought we'd go to the lead. She showed a lot of heart and that was a great try for the first time around two turns."
Right: Third place finisher Express Model in the post parade. The Bernard Flint trainee improved her record to 2 wins, 2 seconds, and 1 third in 6 starts, earning $108,987 for owner-breeder L.T.B. Inc. and Hillerich Racing LLC.
Fordubai wins the 2014 Louisiana Handicap
Left: Fordubai in the winner's circle. Winning jockey Robby Albarado said, "I got inside and we took advantage of it. I was able to save ground on both turns and when we turned for home he ran hard."
Right: Fordubai returns after the race.
Left: Second place finisher Grand Contender in the post parade. The Tom Amoss trainee improved his record to 5 wins, 2 seconds, and 4 thirds in 18 starts, earning $230,860 for owner Maggi Moss.
Right: Third place finisher and beaten favorite Prayer for Relief in the post parade. The Steve Asmussen trainee improved his record to 8 wins, 5 seconds, and 5 thirds in 26 starts, earning $1,590,913 for owner Zayat Stables.
Daddy Nose Best wins the 2014 Colonel E. R. Bradley Handicap
Jockey James Graham sent String King to the lead through slow fractions of 24.41, 51.02, and 1:15.58 over the yielding course while stalked by 8-1 Adios Nardo. At the 1/4 pole jockey Mark Guidry sent Adios Nardo to the lead through 1 mile in 1:40.27. However, Daddy Nose Best, as far back as 8th early under jockey Rosie Napravnik, rallied on the outside to win by a neck in 1:46.54. It was another 1/2 length back to late-runnig Speaking of Which third.
Left: Daddy Nose Best heads to the winner's circle. Winning jockey Rosie Napravnik said, "I was very, very blocked at the top of the stretch. He had a lot to do in the lane but he finished really nicely for me."
Right: Daddy Nose Best in the post parade.
Left: Second place finisher Adios Nardo in the post position. The Leo Gabriel trainee improved his record to 8 wins, 3 seconds, and 2 thirds in 24 starts, earning $218,345 for owners Diamond Racing, Volunteer Racing, and Four Star Thunder Run LLC.
Right: Third place finisher Speaking of Which in the post position. The Christophe Clement trainee improved his record to 4 wins, 2 seconds, and 2 thirds in 12 starts, earning $200,418 for owner-breeder Moyglare Stud Farm.
Eden Prairie wins the 2014 Marie G. Krantz Memorial Handicap
Jockey Florent Geroux sent 64-1 longshot Masquerade to the front and she set fractions of 24.25, 49.73, and 1:14.89 over the yielding course while pressed by Eden Prairie and Channel Lady. At the 3/16 pole, jockey Rosie Napravnik asked Eden Prairie for run and she challenged for the lead, outfinishing the longshot in deep stretch for the 1 length victory in 1:46.70. It was another 2 lengths back to late-running favorite Starstruck third.
Left: Eden Prairie heads to the winner's circle. Jockey Rosie Napravnik said, "We could have laid off or gone to the lead. She really finished strong and showed her class."
Right: The trophy presentation. Trainer Neil Pessin said, "I wasn't worried necessarily about the class hike as much as the distance if she relaxed the way she did. I told Rosie beforehand she did not have to have the lead. She let her settle back in third. When she relaxes she can compete with almost anybody."
Left: Second place finisher Masquerade. The Mike Stidham trainee improved her record to 4 wins, 6 seconds, and 0 thirds in 14 starts, earning $147,380 for owner M&M Thoroughbred Partners.
Right: Third place finisher and beaten favorite Starstruck. The Larry Jones trainee improved her record to 3 wins, 2 seconds, and 2 thirds in 14 starts, earning $164,748 for owner Calumet Farm.
Photos courtesy of Steve Queen
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