The last time Eagle faced the Fair Grounds starter, the Will Farish homebred finished seventh as the 3-1 favorite in the January 17 Lecomte (G3) after a difficult trip. The three-year-old son of Candy Ride will seek to make amends on Saturday when he faces six rivals in the $60,000 Tenacious going one mile and 70 yards.
A stepping stone to the New Orleans H. (G2) in March, the Tenacious is one of six stakes scheduled on a program billed as “Santa Super Saturday.”
Favored in the Lecomte after running a close third to El Kabeir in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) at Churchill Downs, Eagle was bumped hard in the first turn and raced very wide thereafter. Ultimately missing the rest of the Triple Crown season, Eagle did not return to action until September 12, when he finished sixth in his six-furlong comeback. The colt went on to capture 1 1/16-mile allowances at Keeneland and Churchill, the latter by three lengths over subsequent winner Springboard.
Also in the Tenacious lineup are Ride On Curlin, the 2014 Preakness (G1) runner-up who ran second in the Essex H. at Oaklawn in February but was subsequently unplaced three times in stakes, most recently the six-furlong Thanksgiving H. at Fair Grounds.
The 3-1 morning line favorite is Freestyler, a distant third in the Monmouth Cup (G2) in August and a recent $62,500 claim by trainer Joe Sharp. In his debut for present connections, Freestyler dropped far back early and a modest late run to finish sixth in the $200,000 Claiming Crown Jewel, contested in the slop at Gulfstream.
A solid field of 10, headed by former Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) winner Regally Ready, will contest the $60,000 Buddy Diliberto Memorial at about 1 1/16 miles on the turf. Now eight, Regally Ready enters off a five-length allowance score at Churchill Downs.
Other leading contenders are Lockout, last seen taking the seven-furlong Connaught Cup (G2) at Woodbine in May; Flashlight, runner-up in the Tropical Turf H. (G3) at Gulfstream Park West on November 21; and multiple Grade 3 winner Potomac River, a past winner of the Fair Grounds H. (G3).
Eden Prairie will look to get back in the winner’s circle in her title defense of the $60,000 Blushing K. D., an about 1 1/16-mile grass test for fillies and mares. A two-time stakes winners on the local sod, she was most recently pipped by Zubi Zubi Zu in a November 21 allowance prep. Grade 1 veteran Kitten’s Dumplings and stakes winner Street of Gold are other top contenders.
The three remaining stakes are all $50,000 overnight events. The Tiffany Lass, for fillies and mares at one mile and 70 yards, features Grade 3-placed Cash Control, a dual allowance winner at Churchill this fall. Fields of seven will line up in the Sugar Bowl and the Letellier Memorial, for two-year-olds and two-year-old fillies, respectively. Both are run at six furlongs.
Cash a ticket in any Superfecta on this Saturday’s Fair Grounds card and TwinSpires.com will give you a credit equal to 10 percent of your gross winnings, up to $500 for the full card.