James Graham maintains a tenuous lead in the race for leading rider honors at New Orleans’ Fair Grounds. The Dubliner holds a two-win advantage, 53 to 51, over Colby Hernandez, with three more rivals less than 10 victories behind.
Graham posted two wins on the Saturday card, including a five-length tally aboard Dowagiac Chief in the Black Gold Stakes for 3-year-olds on the turf. The Tom Amoss trainee, owned by Michael McLoughlin, paid $3.20 as the heavy choice.
Graham then came right back for a rallying win aboard Cosmic Train in an allowance mile on the main track. This was good for $13.80 in the win slot, with the Graham double returning $29.40 for $2.
A COOLMORE MASTERPIECE
Naturally, Coolmore is anticipating a big year on the flat in Europe but they’re already in prime form in North America, having won two graded stakes at Santa Anita on Saturday.
Their Cezanne, a 5-year-old horse, won the Grade 2 San Carlos Stakes at seven furlongs on the main track. Flavien Prat had him involved from the getgo and brought him to the wire in front by two lengths. He returned $3.20 to win.
Cezanne, a Bob Baffert trainee, has been something of an enigma. The San Carlos was only his sixth lifetime start, indicating that he’s been wrestling with soundness issues throughout his career. He has, however, won four of those races, and the San Carlos was his second graded stakes win.
Baffert said after the race that he’s looking beyond sprints for Cezanne.
“We missed our timing with him,” Baffert said. “He had a few setbacks, otherwise he would have been in the [Santa Anita Handicap, also run on Saturday]. He’s a good handicap horse. He showed his class. I think he is a mile and a quarter horse. We’ll keep him going and look toward the Breeders’ Cup Classic. I like what I saw today.”
Later on the card, Coolmore enjoyed another two-length triumph with Prat when As Time Goes By captured the Grade 1 Beholder Mile. The 5-year-old mare maintained a clear advantage against a small contingent of three rivals. The mare, also a Baffert trainee, paid $3.20 to win.
The Beholder was the first Grade 1 victory for As Time Goes By, which is now 7-for-14 lifetime. Four of those other victories came in graded stakes.
Prat ruined Jamie Spencer’s Saturday. Spencer showed up to ride Space Traveller in the Grade 1 Kilroe Mile for Clipper Logistics and Brendan Walsh. The wire didn’t come soon enough for Space Traveller and Spencer as Count Again and Prat had just enough ground to get in front for the victory by a head.
On Sunday, Irish-bred Lucky Girl won the China Doll Stakes at a mile on the turf.
The 3-year-old filly, owned by Panic Stable and trained by Richard Baltas, rallied under Joe Bravo to get up by three-quarters of a length. She paid $14.00 to win. The filly broke her maiden in January at Santa Anita in the Lady Shamrock. She debuted last July at Gowran Park for Andrew Slattery. She was sold after that third-place finish and took up life in the Baltas string in the fall. Paul Hyland is her breeder.
LONG TIME ‘TWEEN SIPS
The victory by T J Munnings in Friday’s nightcap at Turfway Park represented owner/trainer Fergus Bogle’s first victory since 2017. The 4-year-old gelding, ridden by Rafael Bejarano, was always involved in this mile run for claiming stock at the $7,500 level. He won by a length and paid $5.20 as the favorite.