· Cassatt Takes on Elders in Tiffany Lass
· Rise Up Seeks First Fair Grounds Stakes in Tenacious
· String King Could Tie on Another Bradley Attempt
· Eden Prairie Points to Krantz after Easy Blushing K. D. Win
CASSATT TAKES ON ELDERS IN TIFFANY LASS
Fox Hill Farm’s Cassatt heads a small cast of talented fillies and mares in Sunday’s $50,000 Tiffany Lass Stakes at Fair Grounds Race Course. Named after the Fair Grounds Oaks-winning champion 3-year-old filly of 1986, the Tiffany Lass is contested this year over a mile and 70 yards on the main track.
Cassatt will be taking on her elders in stakes company for the first time in her career and rides the momentum of a tour-de-force victory in the $300,000 Zia Park Oaks last out on Nov. 26. Trained by Larry Jones, the daughter of Tapit has only raced seven times, but won four of those – including the Grade III Monmouth Oaks in August. Assigned post two under regular rider Kerwin Clark, the gray filly is using the Tiffany Lass as a prep for the $400,000 Sam Houston Ladies Classic in January.
Cassatt’s main competition should come from another lightly raced charge, Lothenbach Stable’s Neil Pessin-trained Distorted Music. A 4-year-old muscular daughter of Distorted Humor out of a half-sister to two Grade I winners, Distorted Music has made only three starts in the last year and six starts overall. Never worse than third, she comes off two consecutive wins, including a wire-to-wire allowance victory on Nov. 21 at Churchill Downs. Robby Albarado has the return call in the Tiffany Lass from post three.
William S. Farish’s Interest Free enters the Tiffany Lass off a fourth in a seven-furlong Keeneland allowance. The daughter of Exchange Rate from the barn of Neil Howard was second one race prior in the $100,000 Open Mind Stakes at Churchill Downs on Sept. 13 and will be stretching out beyond a mile for the first time since a fourth-place finish in an Oaklawn Park allowance in March. Brian Hernandez, Jr. rides from the rail.
The field is completed by Barry Schwartz’s Parc Monceau (James Graham, post five) from the barn of leading trainer Tom Amoss and owner/trainer Terry Eoff’s Sparta Magic (Jamie Theriot, post four). Both of those charges come off two consecutive wins in softer company, respectively.
RISE UP SEEKS FIRST FAIR GROUNDS STAKES IN TENACIOUS
Paul Van Doren’s talented sophomore Rise Up will take on a tough field of seasoned older runners, including Robert and Lawana Low’s Agent Di Nozzo, in Sunday’s $50,000 Tenacious Stakes at Fair Grounds Race Course. Originally including the likes of multiple graded stakes winner Grand Contender and multiple graded stakes-placed Treasury Bill in the original 10 entries, the race will most likely go without those two as they are expected to run Friday afternoon in the $50,000 Buddy Diliberto Memorial Stakes. The Tenacious will be run on the main track over a mile and 70 yards and is named for Dorothy Dorsett Brown’s popular 1954 homebred winner of 11 Fair Grounds Race Course stakes – including three Louisiana Handicaps and two New Orleans Handicaps.
A winner of four stakes and $810,633, Rise Up has been impressing clockers in the mornings for trainer Tom Amoss – including four consecutive bullet works and a second-best (of 106) move on Dec. 14 when going four panels in :48.20. The son of Rockport Harbor returned from a five-month break when a good third behind multiple stakes winners Apprehender and Pataky Kid in a seven-furlong allowance last out at Churchill Downs. Gerard Melancon is scheduled to ride the Kentucky-bred from post eight.
Agent Di Nozzo also continues a comeback when he makes his second start since January in the Tenacious. The Steve Margolis-trained son of Ghostzapper was a respectable second last out in the $250,000 Delta Mile to Sunbean on Nov. 22 and has two stakes wins to his credit. Third in last year’s Tenacious to Prayer for Relief, the 5-year-old gelding is scheduled to be piloted by Miguel Mena from post four.
The late Jim Tafel’s Fordubai returns to the site of his last win in the Tenacious for trainer Greg Geier. The son of E Dubai ran arguably the best race of his career to win last season’s Louisiana Handicap over Grand Contender and Prayer for Relief by a length and was also third in the Grade III Mineshaft Handicap. Robby Albarado, who was aboard for the Louisiana victory, is scheduled to ride from post two.
Worthy of mention is Frank Fletcher Racing Operations’ Al Stall, Jr.-trained Rocket Time. A lightly raced gelding with five starts and three wins, the son of Tiz Wonderful is the lone other sophomore in the field and exits a sharp win in an optional claimer at a one-turn mile at Churchill Downs on Nov. 23. That wire-to-wire effort earned him a 91 Beyer Speed Figure and was the $150,000 Fasig-Tipton March graduate’s second consecutive win following a stalk-and-pounce victory in a Keeneland allowance. Calvin Borel returns to the saddle and is scheduled to break from the rail with the promising charge.
The Tenacious field is completed by stakes-placed Hard Aces (Kerwin Clark, post five), graded stakes-placed Street Spice (Willie Martinez, post six), improving gelding Flashy Sunrise (Abel Lezcano, post seven) and longshot Tiz Adonis (Brian Hernandez, Jr., post nine). Grand Contender and Treasury Bill are assigned posts three and 10, respectively.
STRING KING COULD TIE ON ANOTHER BRADLEY ATTEMPT
Charles C. Smith’s three-time Louisiana Champions Day Turf winner String King has exited his latest victory in said event in fine form, according to his owner/conditioner. The 6-year-old son of Crowned King showed no signs of his age last Saturday when he defeated Tiger Run and Stormdriver by 1½ lengths and improved his earnings to nearly three quarters of a million dollars.
“He came out really good and is no worse for the wear,” Smith reported. “I don’t know how that turf course is going to be playing once we get the real rainy season in Louisiana, but the next logical step is the (Grade III $100,000) Colonel E. R. Bradley (Stakes on Jan. 17). If (the grass) gets deep and boggy, I’ll also consider running him in the (Grade III $200,000) John Connally (Turf Cup) at Sam Houston (on Jan. 24).”
The nine-time stakes winner’s performance would have made it four consecutive Louisiana Champions Day titles for the bay gelding had he not finished a nose short of beating Brittlyn Stable’s Sunbean in the 2013 Classic.
“Every time I watch it I still think we won it,” Smith reflected. “But the photo-finish says differently. I was trying to prove to everyone that he was the best Louisiana-bred in training and I still think he is. He may not have made as much money as the other ones, but he wasn’t running at the high-dollar tracks, either. He’s done everything and danced every dance.”
String King has competed in the last two editions of the Bradley. He finished fourth last January by a length behind Cathy and Bob Zollars’ Daddy Nose Best and was second by 3½ lengths behind Calumet Farm’s Optimizer in 2013. Both of those efforts were on rain-softened turf.
EDEN PRAIRIE POINTS TO KRANTZ AFTER EASY BLUSHING K. D. WIN
Lothenbach Stable’s Eden Prairie exited her win in the $50,000 Blushing K. D. Thursday in excellent shape, according to trainer Neil Pessin. The daughter of Mizzen Mast led the field through pedestrian splits of :49.85 and 1:14.73 under Florent Geroux before proving uncatchable in the lane by 1½ lengths.
“She came out of it great,” Pessin said Friday morning. “We’ll go to the (Listed $60,000 Marie G.) Krantz (Memorial Stakes on Jan. 17) with her and then hopefully the ($60,000) Bayou (Stakes on Feb. 21) before we go to Keeneland. I thought a couple other horses would go with her, but she came by the stands the first time loping and when she does that she’s really tough to catch.”
Eden Prairie, who is stakes-placed on all three types of surfaces and has been remarkably consistent during her 20-race career, paid $4.60, $2.60 and $2.40 as the 13-10 favorite in the field of six fillies and mares and covered the 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.84 while winning her third stakes (all at Fair Grounds). She improved her lifetime earnings to $343,495. Finishing second was Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey’s Kitten’s Queen and third was Hilary Pridham’s One Time Only.
Pessin also took the time to speak on his charge for Sunday’s $50,000 Tiffany Lass Stakes, Lothenbach Stables’ Distorted Music. The veteran conditioner was nothing short of confident in the lightly raced 4-year-old daughter of Distorted Humor as she takes on Fox Hill Farm’s Larry Jones-trained expected heavy race favorite Cassatt.
“She’s coming into the race super,” he said. “I know Larry’s filly is tough, but I like my filly’s chances. She’s very talented. I don’t know if I can beat (Cassatt), but we will definitely see.”
Previously trained by Chris Block, Distorted Music has won her last two starts in impressive fashion over allowance company.