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Corey Lanerie and Mo Tom after winning the 2016 Lecomte Stakes (G3)
Photos courtesy of Steve Queen
Fair Grounds Race Course in New Orleans hosted its "Road to the Derby Kickoff" card on Saturday with five stakes races. Conditions were overcast with temperatures in the mid 60's. 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. Street Sense Stakes winner Mo Tom was sent off as the 2-1 favorite in the field of 9 (after the gate scratch of Dolphus) off his 3rd place finish in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) at Churchill Downs. In to challenge him included 3-1 second choice Uncle Walter, second in an allowance last out, and 4-1 third choice Fish Trappe Road, second in the Sleepy Hollow Stakes at Belmont Park.
Mo Tom wins the 2016 Lecomte Stakes
Jockey Victor Espinoza sen 11-1 Z Royal to the front first time by and he set fractions of 23.64, 47.30, and 1:12.47 while as many as 2 lengths in front of 17-1 Pinnacle Peak and Uncle Walter stalking him second and third. On the far turn, 11-2 fourth choice Tom's Ready, 6th early, came out 5 wide for room to gain the lead through 1 mile in 1:38.89. However, Mo Tom, 8th early under Corey Lanerie after hitting the gate at the start, rallied down the center of the track to win going away by 2 1/4 lengths in 1:43.18 over the fast main track. It was another 3/4 lengths back from Tom's Ready to Uncle Walter third.
Left: Mo Tom in the winner's circle.
Right: Mo Tom in the post parade. Winning jockey Corey Lanerie said, "It was good. He broke really good and got pinched a little bit going into the first turn. We got knocked a little off-stride there, but he gathered himself up really good. Down the backside I was pretty confident, especially when I called on him to get in a little bit better position. On the middle of the turn I was going to try to maybe weave my way through but I had so much horse I said, let me just put him in the clear.'"
The start of the Lecomte Stakes with Mo Tom (#7) breaking from post 4 Trainer Tom Amoss said, "Great way to start his 3-year-old season. Today's race was a mile and 70, I'm sure Corey would agree, when the distance gets further, the better our horse is going to get so we're really excited about that. I have to say Gayle Benson has been great, she's a great owner and she gets a big assist from her partner Tom Benson. We're really pleased, they're both New Orleans natives we're really happy."
Left: Second place finisher Tom's Ready in the post parade. Jockey Shaun Bridgmohan said, "It was my first time on him and I wish I had known him a little bit better. He has a good turn of foot; good acceleration. He flattened out a little at the end, but he had made a big move."
Right: Third place finisher Uncle Walter in the post parade. Jockey Miguel Mena said, "I had a great trip and a nice horse. He's a little bit on the green side and I think there's a lot more in there and we haven't seen his best yet. He ran hard, I just think we got beat by horses who have had more racing. He'll be tough to beat next time."
Stageplay wins the 2016 Silverbulletday Stakes
Jockey James Graham sent 15-2 fourth choice Midnight On Oconee to the lead first time by and she set fractions of 24.18 and 47.89 while pressed by Lovable Lyss and stalked by Stageplay. On the far turn, Stageplay, 3 wide, gained the lead through 3/4 in 1:12.60. Kept to task by jockey Florent Geroux, Stageplay easily held off Midnight On Oconee by 1 1/4 lengths in 1:43.76. It was a long 4 3/4 lengths back to Jet Black Magic third.
Left: Stageplay in the winner's circle with trainer Steve Asmussen at the far left. Asmussen said, "She's a very talented filly. I'm very fortunate to have her for Mr. (Mike) Rutherford. She came in from GoldMark and they had the highest opinion of her and she's definitely not disappointed."
Right: Stageplay breaks from the gate. Winning jockey Florent Geroux said, "She's a very intelligent filly. Very smart. She broke very sharply from the gate and from there I just sent her along. She did the rest and dragged me to the lead and collected the win."
Left: Second place finisher Midnight on Oconee in the post parade. Jockey James Graham said, "I got a little bit of a breather coming out of the turn. Asmussen's filly came at me and passed me, but I was getting back at her late. (Midnight On Oconee) is hardy. (Stageplay) had to run to beat me."
Right: Third place finisher Jet Black Magic. Jockey Colby Hernandez said, "I had a great trip. It set up exactly how we wanted and she ran a big race."
Chocolate Ride wins the 2016 Colonel E. R. Bradley Handicap
Jockey Florent Geroux sent Chocolate Ride to the lead first time by and he set fractions of 23.63, 48.53, and 1:12.40 over the good Stall-Wilson Turf Course while pressed by Sky Flight and stalked by 16-1 Ibaka. Entering the lane, Chocolate Ride began to extend his lead, opening up a 1 1/2 length advantage through 1 mile in 1:36.88. 8-1 Roman Approval, 6th early, put in a 4 wide rally late but Chocolate Ride easily held him off by 3/4 length in 1:43.21. It was another 1/2 length back to 23-1 Blarp third.
Left: Winning jockey Florent Geroux celebrates aboard Chocolate Ride after the race. Geroux said, "He broke a little slower than usual today, but he got a little breather around the first turn. He's a pro and that's what great horses are for they win even when things don't go their way. I'm hoping he wins a Grade 1 this year."
Right: Chocolate Ride leads down the stretch. Winning trainer Brad Cox said, "We couldn't be happier for him. He tries. He's been training excellent. We expected a big effort. He gave it to us."
Left: Second place finisher Roman Approval in the post parade with jockey Shaun Bridgmohan. The Mike Maker trainee has a record of 7 wins, 13 seconds, and 3 thirds in 28 starts, earnng $398,063 for owner Three Diamonds Farm.
Right: Third place finisher Blarp and jockey Colby Hernandez head out to the track before the race. The Joe Sharp trainee has a record of 4 wins, 3 seconds, and 1 third in 23 starts, earning $144,540 for owners Robert Persons and Earl Sanderson Jr.
International Star wins the 2016 Louisiana Stakes
Left: International Star in the winner's circle. He was the winner of last year's Lecomte Stakes, Risen Star Stakes, and Louisiana Derby but was scratched from the Kentucky Derby in the morning on Derby day.
Right: International Star returns after the race. Winning jockey Miguel Mena said, "He's a nice horse. Mike (Maker) was telling me how good he was doing and he likes this racetrack. We were on the rail on the turn and I swung him out so he wouldn't get stopped today and he was full of run. His turn of foot from the 5/16 pole was unbelievable."
Left: Second place finisher and beaten favorite Eagle in the post parade. Jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. said, "We had a great trip. I thought I was on the best horse. We made the lead easily and I was surprised when (International Star) went by, but my horse fought back."
Right: Third place finisher Ride On Curlin in the post parade with jockey Patrick Valenzuela aboard. The Billy Gowan trainee improved his record to 3 wins, 4 seconds, and 6 thirds in 19 starts, earning $794,987 for owner Daniel Dougherty.
Street of Gold wins the 2016 Marie G. Krantz Memorial Handicap
6-1 Masquerade was quickest away through an opening quarter of 23.95 before 14-1 Mizz Money took over on the clubhouse turn through fractions of 49.09, 1:13.44, and 1:37.82. However, 3-2 favorite Street of Gold, 9th early, came out 5 wide to circle the field and rallied to win by 1/2 a length in 1:43.94. It was another 1 1/2 lengths back to 18-1 Haunted Heroine third.
Left: Street of Gold in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Brad Cox said, "She's been doing great. Super pleased with her. She was 3-2. She ran like it. She definitely likes this turf course. It took a Grade 1 winner (Kitten's Dumplings) to beat her last time."
Right: Street of Gold heads out for the post parade. Winning jockey Robby Albarado said, "She broke a little alertly today, better than last time. I was up against a slow pace again today which makes it a little more special, but I ran down a nice filly (Mizz Money) today."
Second place finisher Mizz Money (12) with jockey Jesus Castanon shortly after the star. The Bobby Barnett trainee improved her record to 4 wins, 3 seconds, and 1 third in 15 starts, earning $199,988 for owner Hillerich Racing. Just behind her is third place finisher Haunted Heroine (13) with jockey Richard Eramia. The Bret Calhoun trainee improved her record to 6 wins, 2 seconds, and 4 thirds in 18 starts, earning $267,150 for owners Wayne Sanders and Larry Hirsch.
Photos courtesy of Steve Queen
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