Along with three dirt stakes anchored by the Lecomte (G3), Fair Grounds offers a trio of $100,000 turf stakes Saturday, making for a total of six on a terrific 14-race “Road to the Derby Day.”
Duncan F. Kenner S. – Race 8 (4:25 p.m. ET)
Just Might goes for his third straight stakes win of the current Fair Grounds meet in the Duncan F. Kenner S. After wiring the Thanksgiving Classic on opening day, the Michelle Lovell veteran reverted to turf and led all the way in the Dec. 26 Richard Scherer Memorial at this 5 1/2-furlong trip. Reigning Kenner champion Manny Wah, a fine second off the layoff in the Scherer, is eligible to improve in his title defense for Wayne Catalano.
Steve Asmussen sends out Cowan, perhaps best remembered for his hard-charging second to Golden Pal in the 2020 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (G2). Sir Alfred James comes off a stakes breakthrough in the Holiday Cheer S. on the Turfway Tapeta. Other contenders include Grade 2-placed Louisiana-bred Classy John; Frosted Grace, twice Grade 3-placed on dirt; Scherer fourth Mr. Hustle; and Just Might’s stablemate, Strike Me Down.
Marie G. Krantz Memorial – Race 10 (5:23 p.m. ET)
Trainer Joe Sharp could be double-handed with Summer in Saratoga and Catch a Bid, the respective winner and third-placer from the Dec. 26 Blushing K. D. S. over the same 1 1/16-mile circuit. But Summer in Saratoga, who previously captured the Dowager (G3) at Keeneland, is also under serious consideration for the $500,000 Pegasus Filly & Mare Turf (G3) at Gulfstream Park Jan. 29. It wouldn’t be a surprise if Summer in Saratoga scratches Saturday and ships out for next week.
If so, unbeaten Brazilian Group 1 queen Janelle Monae would rank as the lone remaining 124-pound highweight in the Marie G. Krantz Memorial. The daughter of Agnes Gold warrants considerable respect in her stateside premiere for Brad Cox, although this distance might be her minimum. The only other top-level winner in the field, Abscond, has yet to score since the 2019 Natalma (G1). But the Eddie Kenneally mare is often thereabouts, as in her fourth in the Nov. 6 Goldikova (G2) last out.
Lovely Ride, victorious in her turf debut in the Dec. 27 Pago Hop S. for sophomores, leads several alumnae from that race. Renewing rivalry, while now facing elders, are Pago Hop third Princess Theorem, who should appreciate the added ground here; pacesetter Touch of Class, who tired to fourth; sixth Out of Sorts; and eighth Assertive Style.
The 2020 Pago Hop winner, Pass the Plate, finished third in last year’s Marie G. Krantz. Rounding out the 12-strong cast are Adelaide Miss, a recent front-running allowance winner over the course, and Dawn’s Dancer, eighth in Gulfstream’s Suwannee River (G3) in her latest.
Colonel E.R. Bradley S. – Race 12 (6:20 p.m. ET)
Proven turf performer Two Emmys and surface neophyte Major Fed clash in a hotly competitive Colonel E.R. Bradley.
Two Emmys grabbed national attention when holding off odds-on Domestic Spending as a 27-1 longshot in the Mister D. (G1), formerly the Arlington Million. But the Hugh Robertson trainee had flashed talent earlier at Fair Grounds, setting a one-mile course record in 2020, beating highly-touted Darain last January, and placing second to Colonel Liam in the Mar. 20 Muniz Memorial Classic (G2). In his only start since the Mister D., Two Emmys was just denied in the 1 1/2-mile Sycamore (G3).
Major Fed, a 2020 Kentucky Derby (G1) participant, emerged on the Fair Grounds Road by taking second in a division of the Risen Star (G2) and fourth in the Louisiana Derby (G2). Although also second in the Indiana Derby (G3), the Greg Foley pupil has generally found life more difficult in graded stakes. Considering that full brother Zapperini and half-sister May Lily spent the bulk of their careers on turf, it makes sense for Major Fed to make the switch.
Halo Again just prospered in his first turf attempt, controlling the pace en route to a 14-1 upset of the Dec. 26 Buddy Diliberto Memorial. The Asmussen charge will try to confirm the form, over the same course and 1 1/16-mile trip, with Diliberto third Monarchs Glen, fourth Forty Under, and Logical Myth, who was only sixth in his title defense. Logical Myth, also the defending champion of the Bradley, takes blinkers off in hopes of recapturing his old form. Trainer Sharp has a 21% strike rate with that equipment change.
Excess Magic capped his productive sophomore campaign in the Dec. 27 Woodchopper. Dyn O Mite, who traded decisions with Excess Magic last winter, has crossed the wire first in his last pair. Demoted to second in the Sept. 8 Caesars S. at Indiana Grand, the Keith Desormeaux trainee rebounded by wiring a Keeneland allowance.
Bodecream, the 2020 Woodchopper hero, returns to New Orleans after winning second off the claim for Jeremiah Englehart. Multiple Grade 3-placed Lucky Curlin, fifth when sprinting in the aforementioned Scherer Memorial, stretches back out.
Dallas Stewart’s upwardly mobile Cavalry Charge has won his past two, lucrative allowances at Kentucky Downs and Keeneland. Own Agenda is also on the upgrade after resuming for Cherie DeVaux. Runner-up to Monarchs Glen (a fellow Juddmonte castoff) at Churchill in June off a 19-month layoff, the son of First Defence won a Fair Grounds allowance when next seen Dec. 18.