Nominees Released For Fair Grounds’ New Road To The Derby Kickoff Day

December 26 marks the inaugural running of two new Kentucky Derby and Oaks prep races at Fair Grounds Race Course and Slots – the $100,000 Gun Runner for 2-year-olds and the $100,000 Untapable Stakes for 2-year-old fillies – and nominations for both races have been released.

With a first post of noon CT, six stakes will be run on the Road to the Derby Kickoff Day card on Saturday, Dec. 26, with the newly anointed races leading into to Fair Grounds’ traditional Kentucky Derby preps – the Lecomte (G3), Risen Star (G2) presented by Lamarque Ford and the Twin Spires Louisiana Derby (G2), and traditional Kentucky Oaks preps – the Silverbulletday, Rachel Alexandra (G2) presented by Fasig-Tipton and the Twin Spires Fair Grounds Oaks (G2). The Gun Runner, which will award 10-4-2-1 points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, closed with 21 nominations and the Untapable, which will award 10-4-2-1 points on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks, closed with 22 nominations.

Post positions for the Dec. 26 card, which also includes the Tenacious Stakes, Richard R. Scherer Memorial Stakes, Blushing KD Stakes, and the Buddy Diliberto Memorial Stakes will be drawn on Thursday December 16. The Joseph E. “Spanky” Broussard Memorial, The Woodchopper, Sugar Bowl, Letellier, and Pago Hop Stakes, to be run on Dec. 27, will be drawn on Friday, Dec. 17.

“With the type of horses and trainers we have on the backside here year in and year out we thought it was the perfect opportunity to have these stakes with Derby and Oaks points attached four weeks out from Lecomte Day,” Fair Grounds’ racing secretary Scott Jones said. “It’s perfect timing too, as most of our open horses come from Churchill Downs and it’s four weeks removed from their Stars Of Tomorrow card. You’ll see a lot of 2-year-olds that ran on that day reappear here on Dec 26.”

Run over 1 1/16 miles, the Gun Runner is named for the local winner of the 2016 Risen Star and Louisiana Derby. He also counts the 2017 Breeders Cup Classic (G1) and 2018 Pegasus World Cup (G1) among his top stakes scores.

Brad Cox leads all trainers with six Gun Runner nominees, including Dean Maltzman’s Kaely’s Brother, the adjudicated winner of the Jean Lafitte Stakes at Delta Downs, and Frank Fletcher Racing Operations and Ten Strike Racing’s Rocket Dawg, a dominant winner at first asking at Churchill Downs on Nov. 19.

Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen has a trio of horses nominated to the Gun Runner including dominant recent maiden winners in Ed and Susie Orr’s All In Sync and Winchell Thoroughbreds’ Epicenter.

Other top nominees to the Gun Runner include: Tom R. Durant’s Tejano Twist, who has already racked up three wins for trainer Bret Calhoun, including the Lively Shively last out on the Nov. 27 Stars of Tomorrow card at Churchill Downs and C2 Racing Stable and La Milagrosa Stables’ White Abarrio, who has two wins and a recent third place finish behind Smile Happy and Classic Causeway in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) at Churchill Downs on his resume for trainer Saffie Joseph, Jr.

Trainer Ken McPeek has a pair of potential aces nominated to the Untapable, to be run over 1 mile and 70 yards, in Dixiana Farms’ Cocktail Moments and Bret Jones and Cold Press Racing’s Park on the Nile, both of whom won impressively at first asking on the Stars of Tomorrow card.

Cox and Asmussen each boast a trio of Untapable nominees. Cox’s fillies include the Godolphin homebred Matereya, who won at first asking in advance of a fifth place finish behind her stablemate Ju Ju’s Map in the Alcibiades (G1) at Keeneland and a runner-up performance in the Fern Creek at Churchill Downs last time out. Famed, a Godolphin half sister to likely champion Essential Quality, who was last seen finishing fourth in the Golden Rod (G2) at Churchill and Gregory Hoffman’s Golden Sights, a recent maiden dominator at Keeneland, are also Untapable options for Cox.

Asmussen’s Untapable nominees are led by an impressive first out winner in the Stonestreet homebred La Crete, who is a half sister to last year’s Rachel Alexandra winner Clariere.

Chris Walsh’s California Angel, the 17-1 upset winner of the Jessamine (G2) on the Keeneland turf in advance of a disappointing 11th place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) at Del Mar, is also nominated to the Untapable, which is named for the 2014 winner of the locally-run Rachel Alexandra and Fair Grounds Oaks in addition to the Kentucky Oaks and Breeders Cup Distaff that same year.

The list of nominees and the past performances for all 11 stakes to be run at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots on Dec. 26-27 can be found here https://www.equibase.com/premium/eqbHorsemenAreaSNHW.cfm?trk=FG.

The post Nominees Released For Fair Grounds’ New Road To The Derby Kickoff Day appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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