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Las Virgenes Stakes
Florent Geroux celebrates aboard Mr. Monomoy after winning the first division of the Risen Star Stakes
Fair Grounds Race Course hosted 5 graded stakes races on Saturday afternoon for Louisiana Derby Preview Day, including one of the major Triple Crown prep races: the $400,000 Risen Star Stakes (G2) presented by Lamarque Ford, the major local prep for the Louisiana Derby and worth 50 points to the winner as part of the Kentucky Derby Championship Series which was split into two divisions this year. Each division was contested at 1 1/8 miles on the main track, for the original purse of $400,000, so each division still earns the originally assigned Derby points. Conditions were excellent at the historic New Orleans track, with cloudy skies and temperatures in the low 60's, the main track rated fast and the Stall-Wilson turf going firm.
In the first divistion of the Risen Star, Silver State was sent off as the lukewarm 3-1 favorite in the field of 11 off his second place finish in the Lecomte (G3). In to challenge him included 13-4 second choice Enforceable, winner of the Lecomte, and 4-1 third choice Blackberry Wine, an allowance winner last out.
Jockey Florent Geroux sent 15-2 Mr. Monomoy to the lead first time by and he set fractions of 24.22, 48.57, and 1:12.85 while pressed by Blackberry Wine and stalked by 8-1 Digital. Turning for home, Mr. Monomoy continued to lead through 1 mile in 1:37.65. Enforceable, 8th early under Julien Leparoux, put in a strong 6 wide rally to no avail as Mr. Monomoy cruised the rest of the way to win by 2 1/2 lengths in 1:50.43. Ity was another 1/2 length back to favorite Silver State third.
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 9 Mr. Monomoy Geroux 17.00 8.00 4.60 8 Enforceable Leparoux 4.60 3.00 2 Silver State Santana 2.80 Winning Time: 1:50.43 $1 Exacta 9-8 41.60 $1 Trifecta 9-8-2 143.50 $1 Superfecta 9-8-2-10 890.70
Left: Mr. Monomoy in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Brad Cox said, "He galloped out well last time and I thought he could get this distance. I thought the draw today gave him the opportunity to break and clear if he wanted, and obviously he was willing to do it. Florent put him in a great spot and he stepped up to the plate today and proved that he belongs. We have a long way to go but we expect him to come out in good order. It will probably be one more race before the Derby, what race that will be we don't know. We just have to see how he comes out of it and see what other horses run in the next few weeks and see how everything unfolds but we're really happen with him."
Right: Mr. Monomoy walks over before the race.
Left: Mr. Monomoy in the post parade. Winning jockey Florent Geroux said, "We had a really good start out of the gate. I was thinking about stalking, but when I saw no one was really going for the lead I took advantage of it and went for it. It worked really nicely for me. It was a good distance and there was no real competition up front. Last time he did have a bad trip, but it was partly the break. He's still a new horse and learning everything but he showed me a lot today, I'm really happy with him."
Right: Mr. Monomoy leads down the stretch.
Left: Second place finisher Enforceable walks over before the race. Jockey Julien Leparoux said, "He ran a great race. There wasn't really any pace and the winner was on the lead easy. My horse responded when I asked and put in a really good run down the lane. I'm happy with how he ran and look forward to having him go longer in distance."
Right: Third place finisher and beaten favorite Silver State in the post parade. The Steve Asmussen trainee improved his record to 1 win, 2 seconds, and 1 third in 4 starts, earning $136,106 for owners Winchell Thoroughbreds and Willis Horton Racing.
Jockey Javier Castellano sent 12-1 Ny Traffic to the lead first time by and he set fractions of 24.38, 48.57, and 1:12.62 while pressed by 13-1 Modernist and stalked by Liam's Lucky Charm. Entering the lane jockey Junior Alvarado sent Modernist to lead through 1 mile in 1:38.17. 10-1 Major Fed, 5th early under Julien Leparoux, came out 5 wide for room and rallied but Modernist held him off to win by 1 length in 1:51.28. It was a neck back to pacesetter Ny Traffic third, while favorite Anneau d'Or was bumped at the start and failed to rally, checking in 9th beaten 12 3/4 lengths.
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 1 Modernist Alvarado 27.60 14.20 8.00 7 Major Fed Leparoux 9.80 6.40 12 Ny Traffic Castellano 8.00 Winning Time: 1:51.28 $1 Exacta 1-7 114.00 $1 Trifecta 1-7-12 1,326.20 $1 Superfecta 1-7-12-11 6,589.40
Left: Modernist in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Bill Mott said, "He won at a mile and an eighth in New York and has progressed really well in this early part of his three-year-old year. He's become more mature and has been more professional about everyhting. I couldn't be more delighted with how he acted in the paddock and post parade. I told Junior to take advantage of the one hole. The horse handled everything really well."
Right: Modernist returns after the race.
Modernist heads to the paddock before the race. Winning jockey Junior Alvarado said, "I took advantage of being drawn on the rail. He put me in a good spot early on and when I asked for more, he gave it to me. I've always been high on him. I think he's still learning how to be a racehorse but he has so much talent and I'm really proud of him." Mott added, "I think the plan is going to the Louisiana Derby. He is very similar to Country House and I want to follow the same path as I did. This horse is a little more mature than Country House was at this point last year, so it's exciting."
Right: Second place finisher Major Fed in the post parade. Jockey Julien Leparoux said, "He ran a great race. We had a great trip and I thought I was going to win for a second, but he got a little tired at the end. He still showed a ton of heart and I'm proud of him."
Left: Third place finisher Ny Traffic in the post parade. The Saffie Joseph trainee improved his record to 2 wins, 0 seconds, and 2 thirds in 6 starts, earning $136,970 for owners John Fanelli, Cash is King Stable, LS Racing, and Paul Braverman.
Right: Ninth place finisher and beaten favorite Anneau d'Or in the post parade. The Blaine Wright trainee improved his record to 1 win, 2 seconds, and 0 thirds in 4 starts, earning $403,000 for owner Peter Redekop B.C. Limited.
Jockey James Graham sent 27-1 His Glory to the front through fractions of 24.20, 47.92, and 1:12.64 while pressed by 11-1 Ursula and stalked by Finite. Entering the lane His Glory tired allowing Finite to inherit the lead through 1 mile in 1:37.42. Kept to task by Ricardo Santana Jr., Finite drew off late to win by 4 3/4 lengths over late-running favorite British Idiom in 1:43.97. It was another 1 3/4 lengths back to 8-1 Swiss Skydiver third.
Left: Finite in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Steve Asmussen said, "She's a tremendous filly. She has a tremendous ownership group and "I think the last race put us in this position. This race has obviously been a producer of really nice fillies and I think we have something to work with now with her. She's always been a really game filly and has always showed a lot of heart. We won the Rachel with Untapable a few years ago then won the Fair Grounds Oaks and were fortunate enough to win the Kentucky Oaks, so we're hoping this filly can stay sound and keep running well and hopefully follow that same path."
Right: Finite returns after the race.
Left: Finite in the post parade.
Right: First time by with eventual winner Finite third on the outside and His Glory leading on the rail. Winning jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. said, "She was really ready and cranked for today. I knew turning for home I had a lot of horse under me. She responded right when I asked her and she's just such a fighter."
Right: Second place finisher and beaten favorite British Idiom in the post parade. Jockey Javier Castellano said, "I am really happy with how she did it today. We were second best but I think she ran a good race and Finite has been running consistently, we've been off since Breeders' Cup so she needed this race. she has been running more lately. My horse ran such a good race and I think next time will be a different story."
Left: Third place finisher Swiss Skydiver walks over before the race. The Ken McPeek trainee improved her record to 1 win, 1 second, and 1 third in 4 starts, earning $82,660 for owner Peter Callahan.
The fillies break from the gate for the Rachel Alexandra.
Jockey Robby Albarado sent 5-1 Pirate's Punch to the lead first time by through fractions of 24.41, 47.25, and 1:11.42 while pressed by 11-1 Sleepy Eyes Todd and stalked by 53-1 Winning Number. Turning for home, Silver Dust, 4th early under Brian Hernandez Jr., came out 3 wide and swept to the lead at the 3/16 pole through 1 mile in 1:36.57. Kept to task by Hernandez, Silver Dust held off late-running 30-1 Gun It by 3/4 length in 1:43.40. It was another 1 3/4 lengths back to Pirate's Punch third.
Left: Silver Dust in the winner's circle. Winning owner Tom Durant said, "We wish he was this good as a three-year-old! But in all seriousness, this is my first six-year-old to race. I have raced a lot of horses and I've never raced one this age. He seems to just be getting better and better as we go and I'm hoping he can continue to impress us."
Right: Winning jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. celebrates aboard Silver Dust after the race. Hernandez said, "This horse is just getting better and better. You just have to trust him. He is a little bit of a quirky horse from what I've seen. Jack (Gilligan, regular rider out with injury) has done a great job riding him and I was fortunate enough to fill in. I learned from watching replays to stay out of his way and give him the most comfortable trip I can. That's what we did today. He ran nice and when we turned for home he picked it up."
Left: Second place finisher Gun It in the post parade. Jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. said, "He improved a lot today. We changed everything with him. We took him back today and he responded very well. He was aggressive in the first part, but then relaxed and had a nice run. The best horse won today."
Right: Third place finisher Pirate's Punch in the post parade. The Grant Forster trainee improved his record to 3 wins, 2 seconds, and 3 thirds in 12 starts, earning $153,751 for owners Gulliver Racing, Craig Drager, and Dan Legan.
Jockey Shaun Bridgmohan sent 8-1 fourth choice Factor This to the lead first time by through fractions of 23.57, 48.25, and 1:11.76 while pressed by 12-1 Spectacular Gem and stalked by 51-1 Botswana and Dontblamerocket. Entering the stretch, Factor This opened up a 2 1/2 length lead through 1 mile in 1:35.54. Synchrony put in a strong late rally from 6th but Factor This held him off to win by 1 length gate-to-wire in a new course record 1:47.29. It was another 4 1/2 lengths back to Botswana third.
Left: Factor This in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Brad Cox said, "We were much more confident today as supposed to last time out. Some of the key scratches really helped us out today and Shaun did a great job with this horse. He was able to let him relax down the backside which was key. You could see him flick his ears up and really settle down and he had plenty left in the tank turning for home. We're really happy and proud of this horse."
Right: Shaun Bridgmohan celebrates aboard Factor This after the Fair Grounds Stakes.
Left: Second place finisher and beaten favorite Synchrony in the post parade. Jockey Joe Bravo said, "You're never happy to get beat, but I am so proud of how the horse ran today. He is bigger and stronger than he was last year. I can't wait to see what the spring brings of him."
Right: Third place finisher Botswana walks over before the race. He improved his record to 2 wins, 7 seconds, and 3 thirds in 16 starts, earning $189,973 for owner-trainer Bentley Combs.
Winning jockey Chantal Sutherland said, "Steve thought we were going to be forwardly placed and I agreed. We were on the same page. She just exploded today and we had a really good trip. It was just really exciting to win and so grateful for the connections, Steve and his wife, and the whole barn." Trainer Steve Margolis added, "This filly has a lot of guts. After her last race we needed to give her some time. She is a fighter, and I told Chantal to just do your thing and try to get a good trip. When she called on her she really gave her a good punch and she kept going which is hard to do in a field like this."
Winning owner-trainer Michelle Lovell said, "There was some speed that scratched. When I saw that I told Colby to not take anything away from him. He's run well from just off the pace as well but we thought if he broke well we'll just let him do his own thing. It's a really special race to win with all of my owners here. We knew he would be competitive in some allowance races but we thought he could handle better and he proved it today."
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