Fair Grounds will kick off its 144th season of Thoroughbred racing on Thursday. The New Orleans track runs through March 27 and features a nice stakes schedule, including a three-race series for both the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks.
Five of the nine races on the opening program have drawn at least 10 horses and it’s no surprise to see leading local horseman Tom Amoss represented by a trio of entrants.
A native of New Orleans, Amoss captured his 11th trainer’s title at Fair Grounds during the 2014-15 season, scoring by a comfortable six-race margin over runner-up Bret Calhoun. Amoss and Calhoun figure to be well-represented again along with Joe Sharp, who finished third in the standings in his first season as a conditioner and will return to Fair Grounds this winter with a sizable stable.
Other trainers of note include Larry Jones and Mike Maker, who were responsible for the 2014-15 co-horses of the meet, I’m a Chatterbox and International Star. I’m a Chatterbox swept the Silverbulletday, Rachel Alexandra (G3) and Fair Grounds Oaks (G2), which are all part of the Road to the Kentucky Oaks series, and International Star captured the Road to the Kentucky Derby counterparts, the Lecomte (G3), Risen Star (G2) and Louisiana Derby (G2). Both horses could compete at the upcoming meet as 4-year-olds.
The Jones-trained Lovely Maria, winner of the Kentucky Oaks, also campaigned at Fair Grounds last season.
Steve Asmussen, Al Stall Jr., Wayne Catalano, Michael Stidham, Dallas Stewart, Hugh Robertson, Karl Broberg, Michelle Lovell and Louis Roussel III are all regulars who will be active during the 2015-16 meet, and Roger Brueggemann, who counts champion Work All Week and Arlington Million (G1) hero The Pizza Man among his highlights, will take up residence in the Fair Grounds stable area.
James Graham has moved his tack to California and won’t defend his riding title, which he captured in runaway fashion with a 34-race cushion. The three riders who tied for second last meet – Florent Geroux, Miguel Mena and Francisco Torres – will be based at Fair Grounds over the winter along with regulars Robby Albarado, Brian Hernandez Jr., Jamie Theriot and Willie Martinez. Other members of the 2015-16 jockey colony will include Shaun Bridgmohan, Manny Esquivel, Leandro Goncalves and Colby Hernandez.
Maggi Moss will pursue a seventh consecutive owner’s title. Her challengers include Midwest Thoroughbreds, Keith Plaisance, Whispering Oaks Farm and Ken & Sarah Ramsey.
Fair Grounds Handicapping Nugget
In maiden races without a first-time starter, the best last-out Brisnet.com Speed Rating has a positive ROI over the past three seasons at Fair Grounds.
I’m a Chatterbox photo courtesy of Lou Hodges Jr. Photography/Alexander Barkoff
Earn 30X Points Opening Week at Fair Grounds: Starting this Thursday and running through Sunday, Nov. 22, TwinSpires players have the chance to earn 30X Points for all Fair Grounds wagers during opening week. See more at: https://www.twinspires.com/earn-30x-points-opening-week-fair-grounds#sthash.2Ag5oS4u.dpuf