Nitrous Breaks Skid, Wins Thanksgiving Classic

Asmussen trainee ends nice-race losing streak

New Orleans (November 26, 2020) – Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC and Stonestreet Stables LLC’s Nitrous settled just off a torrid speed duel, kicked clear off the far turn, and held off the late run of favored Manny Wah by 1 ½ lengths to win Fair Grounds’ Opening Day $125,000 Thanksgiving Classic.

Breaking alertly under Adam Beschizza, Nitrous was fifth-of-six early but just 4 lengths off a 21.52 pressured first quarter set by defending champion Bobby Wicked One, who was pressed from the outside by Landeskog. Landeskog quickly put Bobby’s Wicked One away on the backside but Nitrous was quick to pounce. The 4-year-old son of Tapit opened up off the far turn, and easily held off the late run of the late running Manny Wah in a final time of 1:09.78 for six furlongs. It was another half length back to Mr Money Bags in third.

With a career record of 18-4-3-2, Nitrous increased his bankroll to $547,796.

Nitrous had faced some of the sprint division’s best for trainer Steve Asmussen during a nine-race losing streak, while more than holding his own. He won for the first time since taking Oaklawn Park’s Bachelor in April 2019. Asmussen’s assistant Scott Blasi was on-hand to saddle the winner, and liked what he saw early on.

“I was pleased when I saw the two horses hook up, and the two behind them seemed to put some pressure on them as well,” Blasi said. “I thought Adam (jockey Beschizza) had him in a great spot early. Once he got him outside where he likes to run, he finished up well.”

Beschizza, who won two on the day, was pleased the race played out how it looked on paper, which hinted that both Bobby’s Wicked One and Landeskog would set hot and contested fractions.

“We knew Bobby’s Wicked One was the main speed in the race and he usually sets pretty good fractions,” Beschizza said. “The two of them were going at it early, so I was happy with my position early on. It was perfect for him, as he likes a scrap, and once he set his eyes on the leader, I don’t think there was going to be much getting by him. I’m sure he won’t be done with his winning ways throughout the meet.”

Nitrous was beaten just a nose in Belmont’s Woody Stephens (G1) in June 2019 and entered off a close third, beaten just a head, in Pimlico’s October 3 Frank J. DeFrancis Memorial Dash (G3). Blasi thinks the that the best is yet to come.

“I thought his last race was really good at Pimlico, he was unlucky not to win that day,” Blasi said. “He seems to be rounding into form, we always thought a lot him and look forward to him improving off this.”

Landeskog and Bobby’s Wicked One tired from their early exploits and finished fourth and sixth, respectively, and were split by fifth place finisher Tringale.

Racing resumes Friday at 1:00 p.m. CT with a nine-race card.

Bobby’s Wicked One Looks to Defend Thanksgiving Title – FAIR GROUNDS

Fair Grounds Lover is 5-for-6 Locally

New Orleans (November 24, 2020) – Autumn Hill Farms Racing Stables Inc.’s Bobby’s Wicked One will look to rediscover his best form and try to repeat in the $125,000 Thanksgiving Classic when he starts as the one to catch in Fair Grounds’ Opening Day stakes. The 6-furlong dash is the first of 51 stakes worth $7.055 million at the 76-day meet, which will be run for the 149th time, and this year’s renewal is as deep and competitive as any in recent memory.

Bobby’s Wicked One (post four, 4-1 ML, Miguel Mena to ride), a 5-year-old son of Speightstown trained by All Stall, Jr., figures to welcome a return to a Fair Grounds main track that he’s 5-for-6 over lifetime. Last in both the Count Fleet (G3) behind subsequent Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner Whitmore at Oaklawn Park in April and Volatile in the Aristides at Churchill Downs June 6, Bobby’s Wicked One will race fresh on Thursday. Stall opted for a planned summer freshening after the Aristides, with an eye towards Fair Grounds and a winter campaign, and Bobby’s Wicked One, who is 6-for-17 lifetime, including a win in the Commonwealth (G3) at Keeneland in April 2019, has responded well.

“He just hasn’t been a summer horse, so it’s normal for us to give him some off time. He ran those two bad races but physically there was nothing wrong,” Stall said. “He usually wilts a bit in the heat and has proven to be a winter horse, so we’re looking forward to leading him over for another go Thursday.”

Bobby’s Wicked One put in his final piece of work with a sharp 5-furlong move in 1:00 over the local main track, the second-fastest of 45 drills at the distance. While he does enter off a five-month layoff, Stall is eagerly looking towards a title defense.

“Physically, and moving-wise, he’s come back better than ever this fall. He’s gotten that last bit of maturity in him and you’re going to see a very thick, strong horse in the paddock,” Stall said. “We weren’t able to get a prep off the bench but he’s a fresh, sharp horse, so hopefully he breaks running and we can get over to the rail. For whatever reason, he’s a very confident horse when he can get to the rail, from what Miguel has told me.”

Susan Moulton’s Manny Wah (post 5, 3-1, James Graham) may be winless in seven starts this year for trainer Wayne Catalano but you could argue he enters with the best recent form of any of his seven rivals. He comes in off a close and troubled fifth-place in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Keeneland on November 7. The 4-year-old son of Will Take Charge was third in both the Count Fleet and Aristides and is 3-for-21 lifetime. He hasn’t missed a beat since his Keeneland run, which may have surprised everyone but his trainer.

“We thought he was live as a firecracker that day and with the layout of the race we thought we were a winner, but he gave up the spot to the 7 (Whitmore) and that was it,” Catalano said. “I think we’ll be in the catbird seat (Thursday) off the speed, pull the trigger, and go baby, go.”

ERJ Racing LLC, Madaket Stables LLC, and Dave Kenney’s Landeskog (post six, 4-1, Colby Hernandez) will look to get untracked after a disappointing sixth at odds-on in Pimlico’s Oct. 3 Frank J. DeFrancis Memorial Dash (G3). The 4-year-old son of Munnings returned from a 10-month layoff and posted a decisive win in an optional-claimer at Ellis Park in August while making his first start for trainer Brad Cox but seemed to regress at Pimlico. Landeskog is 3-for-7 lifetime, and figures to be pressing Bobby’s Wicked One the entire way.

Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC and Stonestreet Stables LLC’s Nitrous (post two, 7-2, Adam Beschizza) was third, beaten just a head, in the DeFrancis for trainer Steve Asmussen and will look to break a nine-race losing streak. The 4-year-old son of Tapit is 3-for-17 lifetime and has faced some of the best in the sprint division since winning the Bachelor at Oaklawn in April 2019.

Gary Broad’s Tringale (post one, 12-1, Mitchell Murrill), second to Bobby’s Wicked One in last year’s renewal, has been working bullets in the morning for his first start since April; Brittlyn Stable Inc.’s Chublicious (post three, 20-1, Angel Suarez), fifth in the 2018 renewal; Winning Stables Inc.’s He’s Smokin Now (post seven, 20-1, Marcelino Pedroza), a restricted stakes winner at Canterbury Park earlier this year; and Erma Cobb’s Mr Money Bags (post eight, 9-2, Carlos Marquez), who won the Stonerside Sprint at Sam Houston in January, are also entered for the Thanksgiving Classic.

The Thanksgiving Classic is the eighth race on a strong 10-race Opening Day card, with a scheduled post of 3:35 p.m. CT. Weather permitting, the will be four turf races (R3,R5,R7, R9), along with an MSW for 2-year-olds (R6) that could have a direct impact on the “Road to the Derby” series, which culminates March 20, with the 108th running of the $1 million Twinspires.com Louisiana Derby (G2).

The meet kicks off at 12:00 p.m. CT and will mark the return of a traditional early and late Pick 5, which will encompass the first and last five races of the card, with the latter replacing the Black Gold 5 jackpot bet. In addition, there will be a daily early Pick 4 (R2-5), and late Pick 4 on the last four races of the day, as well as a middle Pick 4 when there are 10 or more races. A pocket schedule, along with a complete list of the stakes schedule, can be found here: https://www.fairgroundsracecourse.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/2020-2021-THOROUGHBRED-RACING-AND-STAKES-CALENDAR.pdf

Trainer Cox Eyes Fair Grounds Four-Peat

Enters Meet Off Four Breeders’ Cup Wins

New Orleans (November 23, 2020) – Fresh off a record-tying four wins at the Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland earlier this month, trainer Brad Cox will look to parlay that success to his fourth straight Fair Grounds trainer’s title when the 149th meet kicks off Thanksgiving Day.

Cox, who won 40 races last year and also led with 12 stakes wins, will have the maximum number of 44 allotted stalls, two of which will eventually be occupied by soon-to-be champions Essential Quality and Monomoy Girl, who, along with Knicks Go and Aunt Pearl (IRE), helped him tie Hall of Famer Richard Mandella for the most wins at one Breeders’ Cup. And while he’s the clear favorite to extend his local streak, it won’t be at the top of his to-do list to start the meet.

 

“Honestly, I never go into a meet thinking about winning the trainer’s title,” Cox said. “The goal is always to be competitive, and especially now to develop our younger horses, that’s a huge part of it. If we get halfway through the meet and we’re in contention, then that’s great.”

At the top of the list of younger horses is Godolphin’s homebred Essential Quality, who won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile to cap a 3-for-3 campaign that will almost assuredly earn him an Eclipse Award for Champion 2-Year-Old Male. The son of Tapit is on the short list of Kentucky Derby contenders and could be a candidate for the March 20, $1 million Twinspires.com Louisiana Derby (G2), a race Cox won last year with Wells Bayou. Essential Quality has been given some time off after his Juvenile win and could resurface in mid-February, which means the local February 13 Risen Star (G2) could be in play.

“Right now, he’s at Churchill jogging and will be there through November,” Cox said. “We’ll eventually get him down to Fair Grounds and start mapping out a path to the Derby, with likely two preps. I don’t have a spot picked out yet but Fair Grounds and their series is definitely in play.

Michael Dubb, Monomoy Stables, The Elkstone Group, and Bethlehem Stables’ Monomoy Girl won her second Breeders’ Cup Distaff prior to being sold for $9.5 million to Spendthrift Farm at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Fall Selected Mixed Sale but, in a somewhat surprise decision, will race in 2021. The 5-year-old daughter of Tapizar is 13-for-15 lifetime in a surefire Hall of Fame career, won the Eclipse Award as Champion 3-Year-old Filly in 2018 and is odds-on to win Champion Older Mare this year.  Monomoy Girl, who won the local Rachel Alexandra (G2) in 2018, is another who will join Cox’s stable during the meet, though a potential schedule has yet to be determined.

“It’s great to have her back (for another season),” Cox said. “Obviously, the Breeders’ Cup at Del Mar is the main goal, but right now we really haven’t talked 2021 with her. We’ll get together with Spendthrift to work out a schedule, let her tell us when she’s ready, and we’ll go from there.”

Korea Racing Authority’s Knicks Go will be the third of the Cox-trainer Breeders’ Cup winners to be stabled at Fair Grounds this meet, though he could be pointed to the Pegasus World Cup in January at Gulfstream Park. Cox, with an ever-growing stable, will also have horses at Palm Meadows in South Florida this year, as part of his Gulfstream contingent, though he will spend the majority of his time in New Orleans.

Cox will kick off his title defense with runners in the last five races on the Opening Day card, including ERJ Racing, Madaket Stables, and Dave Kenney’s Landeskog, who is 4-1 on the morning line for the featured $125,000 Thanksgiving Classic.

Bobby’s Wicked One Looks to Defend Thanksgiving Title

Bobby’s Wicked One Looks to Defend Thanksgiving Title

Fair Grounds Lover is 5-for-6 Locally

New Orleans (November 24, 2020) – Autumn Hill Farms Racing Stables Inc.’s Bobby’s Wicked One will look to rediscover his best form and try to repeat in the $125,000 Thanksgiving Classic when he starts as the one to catch in Fair Grounds’ Opening Day stakes. The 6-furlong dash is the first of 51 stakes worth $7.055 million at the 76-day meet, which will be run for the 149th time, and this year’s renewal is as deep and competitive as any in recent memory.

Bobby’s Wicked One (post four, 4-1 ML, Miguel Mena to ride), a 5-year-old son of Speightstown trained by All Stall, Jr., figures to welcome a return to a Fair Grounds main track that he’s 5-for-6 over lifetime. Last in both the Count Fleet (G3) behind subsequent Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner Whitmore at Oaklawn Park in April and Volatile in the Aristides at Churchill Downs June 6, Bobby’s Wicked One will race fresh on Thursday. Stall opted for a planned summer freshening after the Aristides, with an eye towards Fair Grounds and a winter campaign, and Bobby’s Wicked One, who is 6-for-17 lifetime, including a win in the Commonwealth (G3) at Keeneland in April 2019, has responded well.

“He just hasn’t been a summer horse, so it’s normal for us to give him some off time. He ran those two bad races but physically there was nothing wrong,” Stall said. “He usually wilts a bit in the heat and has proven to be a winter horse, so we’re looking forward to leading him over for another go Thursday.”

Bobby’s Wicked One put in his final piece of work with a sharp 5-furlong move in 1:00 over the local main track, the second-fastest of 45 drills at the distance. While he does enter off a five-month layoff, Stall is eagerly looking towards a title defense.

“Physically, and moving-wise, he’s come back better than ever this fall. He’s gotten that last bit of maturity in him and you’re going to see a very thick, strong horse in the paddock,” Stall said. “We weren’t able to get a prep off the bench but he’s a fresh, sharp horse, so hopefully he breaks running and we can get over to the rail. For whatever reason, he’s a very confident horse when he can get to the rail, from what Miguel has told me.”

Susan Moulton’s Manny Wah (post 5, 3-1, James Graham) may be winless in seven starts this year for trainer Wayne Catalano but you could argue he enters with the best recent form of any of his seven rivals. He comes in off a close and troubled fifth-place in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Keeneland on November 7. The 4-year-old son of Will Take Charge was third in both the Count Fleet and Aristides and is 3-for-21 lifetime. He hasn’t missed a beat since his Keeneland run, which may have surprised everyone but his trainer.

“We thought he was live as a firecracker that day and with the layout of the race we thought we were a winner, but he gave up the spot to the 7 (Whitmore) and that was it,” Catalano said. “I think we’ll be in the catbird seat (Thursday) off the speed, pull the trigger, and go baby, go.”

ERJ Racing LLC, Madaket Stables LLC, and Dave Kenney’s Landeskog (post six, 4-1, Colby Hernandez) will look to get untracked after a disappointing sixth at odds-on in Pimlico’s Oct. 3 Frank J. DeFrancis Memorial Dash (G3). The 4-year-old son of Munnings returned from a 10-month layoff and posted a decisive win in an optional-claimer at Ellis Park in August while making his first start for trainer Brad Cox but seemed to regress at Pimlico. Landeskog is 3-for-7 lifetime, and figures to be pressing Bobby’s Wicked One the entire way.

Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC and Stonestreet Stables LLC’s Nitrous (post two, 7-2, Adam Beschizza) was third, beaten just a head, in the DeFrancis for trainer Steve Asmussen and will look to break a nine-race losing streak. The 4-year-old son of Tapit is 3-for-17 lifetime and has faced some of the best in the sprint division since winning the Bachelor at Oaklawn in April 2019.

Gary Broad’s Tringale (post one, 12-1, Mitchell Murrill), second to Bobby’s Wicked One in last year’s renewal, has been working bullets in the morning for his first start since April; Brittlyn Stable Inc.’s Chublicious (post three, 20-1, Angel Suarez), fifth in the 2018 renewal; Winning Stables Inc.’s He’s Smokin Now (post seven, 20-1, Marcelino Pedroza), a restricted stakes winner at Canterbury Park earlier this year; and Erma Cobb’s Mr Money Bags (post eight, 9-2, Carlos Marquez), who won the Stonerside Sprint at Sam Houston in January, are also entered for the Thanksgiving Classic.

The Thanksgiving Classic is the eighth race on a strong 10-race Opening Day card, with a scheduled post of 3:35 p.m. CT. Weather permitting, the will be four turf races (R3,R5,R7, R9), along with an MSW for 2-year-olds (R6) that could have a direct impact on the “Road to the Derby” series, which culminates March 20, with the 108th running of the $1 million Twinspires.com Louisiana Derby (G2).

The meet kicks off at 12:00 p.m. CT and will mark the return of a traditional early and late Pick 5, which will encompass the first and last five races of the card, with the latter replacing the Black Gold 5 jackpot bet. In addition, there will be a daily early Pick 4 (R2-5), and late Pick 4 on the last four races of the day, as well as a middle Pick 4 when there are 10 or more races. A pocket schedule, along with a complete list of the stakes schedule, can be found here: https://www.fairgroundsracecourse.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/2020-2021-THOROUGHBRED-RACING-AND-STAKES-CALENDAR.pdf

ALLIED RACING ON A ROLL IN ADVANCE OF “LOUISIANA DERBY PREVIEW DAY”

A trio of Risen Star prospects hope to follow in the hoofsteps
of last year’s stable stars By My Standards and Mr. Money

New Orleans (February 13, 2020) – With five graded stakes wins and a Kentucky Derby horse, the past year seems like a dream to Allied Racing’s Chester Thomas. The calendar has flipped to 2020, but he still hasn’t been pinched.
“It’s been an enormous wave and we’re still riding high,” Thomas said of his recent success. “It’s always fun to win, but listen, we’ve lost a bunch. There’s nothing that prepares you better for success than knowing how to lose.”
Under the banner of Allied Racing Stable, Thomas has been a successful race horse owner for the better part of the last decade, but with top three-year-olds in Louisiana Derby (G2) upsetter By My Standards and four-time graded stakes winner Mr. Money leading the way, his operation earned more than $1.9 million more in 2019 than it ever had before.
“This time last year, By My Standards was still a maiden,” Thomas recalls. “Bret (trainer Calhoun) and I were kind of scratching our heads as to why it took him so long (four starts) to win. It was on the Risen Star undercard that the light bulb came on.”
With just that maiden score on his resume, By My Standards was dismissed at odds of 22-1 four weeks later in the Twinspires.com Louisiana Derby (G2).
“We didn’t think we’d have enough earnings to even get him into the Louisiana Derby,” Thomas recalled. “With all the issues they were having in California, Oaklawn actually had to spit the Rebel (G2), and that worked in our favor.”
The 3-5 favorite off of wins in the Lecomte (G3) and Risen Star (G2), War of Will was compromised at the start, opening the door for an upset, and By My Standards and jockey Gabriel Saez took advantage, earning a trip to the Kentucky Derby (G1) presented by Woodford Reserve in the process.
“Growing up in Kentucky, running in the Derby was even that much more special,” Thomas said. “The race didn’t turn out the was we would have liked. When the horses were running past us down the stretch the first time, we knew we were in trouble.”
By My Standards finished 11th in the Kentucky Derby, and a nagging hoof issue forced him to the sidelines.
“He had a quarter crack working and his foot got pretty banged up in the Derby,” Thomas said. “We ended up letting him have plenty of time off to recuperate and get his feet back right. After having eight months off, we all saw how patience can pay off with the way he ran on Sunday.”
Sent off as the 1-2 favorite in that second-level optional claiming allowance route, By My Standards sat second early, took full command at the top of the stretch, and then drew off by six lengths “as rider pleased”.
“As long as he progresses well out of the race, By My Standards will definitely run in a stakes next time out,” Thomas said. “The New Orleans Classic (on Louisiana Derby Day, March 21 at Fair Grounds) will be given serious consideration.”
Fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) as a two-year-old, Mr. Money appeared primed and ready for a productive spring at Fair Grounds, but he failed to seriously threaten in either the Risen Star or the Louisiana Derby.
“We got a little behind the eight ball with him,” Thomas explained. “We went into the Risen Star thinking he probably needed the race, but we expected him to step up and run a lot better in the Louisiana Derby, but for whatever reason, he just didn’t.”
The rest of the year went a lot better for Mr. Money, who strung together four consecutive grade three wins in advance of a heartbreaking second in the Pennsylvania Derby (G1). He ended his campaign with by finishing seventh in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1).
“Bret (trainer Calhoun) did an awesome job at picking spots for Mr. Money,” Thomas said. “It would have been easy to jump right into big races like the Travers, but we kept him on short trips and in good spots.”
With a pair of three furlong breezes at Fair Grounds in February, Mr. Money is slowly working his way back, much like By My Standards did. According to Thomas, Calhoun hasn’t “penciled anything in for Mr. Money yet”.
“We’ve got a nice chain,” Thomas said of the team he has in place. “Bret Calhoun loves his job and pays so much attention to detail. He’s easy to talk and very courteous, respectful and professional. Josh Stevens, our bloodstock agent, has a great eye for a horse. There’s a lot of hard work that goes into putting yourself in a position to succeed and there’s no science to it.”
On Saturday, that new wave of Allied Racing sophomores will look to prove their class in split divisions of the $400,000 Risen Star (G2) presented by Lamarque Ford-Lincoln.
“Fair Grounds had a tremendous amount of interest in the Risen Star from all over the country, and it’s a credit to Jason (senior director of racing Boulet), his staff and Churchill Downs as a corporation that the race was split into two divisions,” Thomas said. “We were confident Mailman Money would get in, but without the split, Mr. Big News and Ready to Roll may have been on the bubble.”
Asked to face his much more highly regarded stablemate and the odds-on Digital on debut, Mailman Money was dismissed at odds of 24-1.
“Bret (trainer Calhoun) told me not to be discouraged, but that he thought Digital had the advantage,” Thomas recalls. “He was a couple works ahead of Mailman Money and we didn’t think our horse was a sprinter type. As it turned out, we took the lead in the stretch, and when Digital came up to him, Gabe (jockey Saez) shook the reins and the horse really dug in. We felt at that time that we had a serious race horse.”
Six weeks later, the son of Goldencents stretched out around two turns in a first-level allowance race, and he didn’t not disappoint, stalking the pace before pouncing and drawing away to a resounding win.
“This horse has a gargantuan stride and he just floats over the ground,” Thomas said. “This (the Risen Star) is a race that is going to separate the men from the boys. It will let us know where we are at.”
Mailman Money drew into the second division of the Risen Star, as did stablemate Mr. Big News.
“I think Mr. Big News is a sleeper,” Thomas said. “He has never really had a good trip, which is good in a way because it seasoned him.”
It took the son of Giant’s Causeway four tries to break his maiden, but his speed figures have improved with every start.
“When he broke his maiden, there was no pace in the race and he took a lot of kickback,” Thomas said. “He really picked it up the last sixteenth of a mile or so. He is bred for classic distances and we think he’s going to love nine furlongs. I watched him work last weekend, and (jockey) Robby (Albarado) could barely get him pulled up.”
Ready to Roll, who broke his maiden in the third try by open lengths in the slop last time out at Oaklawn, landed in the first division of the Risen Star.
“He sprinted the first two times out, but we knew he wanted to go two turns and (jockey) Stuart Elliott did a really nice job hustling him out of the gate and putting him in a good position,” Thomas said. “He relaxed well and it was an easy win. We were not sure what we were in against, but he definitely made his imprint.”
Thomas is super excited about having a trio of Risen Star horses, but he is also well aware that this is just the beginning.
“All three are training well and it seems like they are growing up physically and mentally,” Thomas said. “As we proved last year with Mr. Money, no matter what happens on Saturday, there are a lot of good races the rest of the year, so there’s no need to panic or push on them.”
“Whether you’re racing or breeding, it’s a slow go, it’s a process,” Thomas continued. “You have to have patience. It’s been a nice ride for my wife Jennifer and me. We know this isn’t going to last forever. In this game it can turn off just as quickly as it turned on. We hope it doesn’t, but you know it can.”
Following his Louisiana Derby win last year, an elated Thomas busted out his version of the “Choppa” dance. Should he win a division of the Risen Star on Saturday, what might moves he have in store?
“I didn’t have that one planned, it just kind of happened,” Thomas said with a chuckle. “We’ll see. If we get that fortunate again, I’m sure we will have something to talk about.”

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