Duvet day uts1 360 by benoit photography
Duvet Day wins the Astra Stakes. [Benoit Photography]

Two stakes wins for Graham

James Graham rode the winners of two stakes races on the Saturday card at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans. The first of these came in the Duncan Kenner Stakes, a sprint that was moved off the turf and onto the main track. He had a return engagement aboard Surveillance for trainer Keith Desormeaux. The 6-year-old gelding and his Dublin-born partner had already won two stakes races at the meet and were 4-for-4 over this oval’s main track. 

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 Surveillance took his time getting involved in the race flow but rallied under Graham to score by a length and reward the favorites players with a $4.20 payout. 

 “He’s not the easiest horse to get along with,” Graham said of Surveillance. “He shows you that. Today, I knew to keep him covered longer than I have been, that he’d kick for me today and he did. He loves this place.”

 An hour later, Graham greeted trainer Neil Pessin in the winner’s circle after bringing in Happy American in the Grade 3 Louisiana Stakes, a dirt race at a mile and a sixteenth. Much like Surveillance, Happy American settled off the early pace and became a factor down the lane, dueling to the wire to prevail by a neck. He paid $10.00 to win. 

 Happy American is now riding a two-race win streak, both in stakes races. In fact, all five of his career victories have come with Graham in the saddle. 

 Graham is second in the Fair Grounds jockey standings with 30 wins, trailing Reylu Gutierrez by six. 


 She may not know the way to San Jose but Duvet Day, owned by songmeister Burt Bacharach, his wife Jane and Richard Schatz, can find her way to the wire in front of the pack when given enough ground to run over. The 4-year-old filly continued a trend of dominance in southern California stakes races by Irish-breds when she won the Astra Stakes at Santa Anita on Saturday, one of three Irish-bred winners on the day.

 Duvet Day, ridden by Kazushi Kimura, raced well off the pace in this 12-furlong grass event. She became a presence once straightened for home and finished strongly to score by just over a length. She paid $28.80 to win. 

 Duvet Day began her racing career in Jessica Harrington’s yard. Twice second in races at Gowran Park and Limerick, she then joined Michael McCarthy’s barn, after which she needed five more starts to break her maiden. John Yarr, a veterinary surgeon from Castlewellan, Co. Down, bred Duvet Day. 

 The two other Irish-bred winners came in the first race, a starter allowance mile on the turf, won by Percolate, which returned $5.20, and then in the third race, a starter optional claiming dash on the lawn, won by Our Shining Light, an $8.00 victor.

 John Ennis provided the wagering public with a potent reminder that they dismiss his first-time starters at their peril. Wednesday’s fifth race at Turfway Park saw Garden Belle, a 3-year-old filly he trains for Selima Holdings LLC, scamper off to win at first asking at a big price. She paid $48.18 after clearing by nearly three lengths under Tyler Heard, a recent arrival from England. 


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