Coalport Continues to Impress â€¢ Swift Jugni Stretches Out in Fair Grounds Oaks
COALPORT CONTINUES TO IMPRESS
Many of the 33 horses scheduled to compete in Fair Grounds Race Course & Slotsâ€™ four graded stakes on Saturday were seen on the track Friday morning at the New Orleans oval, but few â€“ if any â€“ left a better impression than Kenneth and Sarah Ramseyâ€™s Coalport. A mid-size dark chestnut 6-year-old homebred, the Mike Maker trainee galloped a lap under assistant trainer Dallas King â€“ somehow managing to move fluidly while also attacking the ground with his hooves. Expected to go off as one of the favorites in the Grade II $400,000 Mervin H. Muniz, Jr. Memorial Handicap, the son of Kittenâ€™s Joy exits a career-best effort when dismantling eight other rivals in the Grade III $200,000 John B. Connally Turf Cup at Sam Houston on Jan. 24.
â€œHeâ€™s a horse who loves his job and always tries hard,â€ Maker said. â€œItâ€™s a good race and my horse is doing excellent. The only worry is if it rains. He had a couple of rained-off races before that didnâ€™t go too well.â€
In the exacta in 13 of his 23 career starts, Coalport has been in Makerâ€™s care for his last six starts (previously with Wayne Catalano), including crossing the wire first in four consecutive races leading into Saturdayâ€™s 22nd renewal of the Muniz. In addition to his Connally conquest, the Illinois-bred won the restricted $56,000 Buckâ€™s Boy Stakes at Hawthorne Race Course and finished first in the $75,000 Unbridled Stakes at Louisiana Downs (before being disqualified to second) â€“ both at 1 1/16 miles on the grass. In the Connally, he earned a 102 Beyer Speed Figure â€“ co-highest of any horse in the Muniz field.
SWIFT JUGNI STRETCHES OUT IN FAIR GROUNDS OAKS
Naveed Chowhanâ€™s Jugni will step up in class and distance in Saturdayâ€™s Grade II $400,000 Fair Grounds Oaks for trainer Bernie Flint. The speedy daughter of Colonel John exits a handy gate-to-wire victory in a Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots allowance on Feb. 14 and sports a series of impressive works, including a five-furlong bullet move on Mar. 15 in 1:00.80.
â€œSheâ€™s been working very well,â€ Flint said. â€œWe wanted to stretch her out in an allowance and weâ€™ve been training her toward running two turns, but we couldn't find one.â€
A two-time winner in six starts, the Kentucky-bred bay filly defeated the well-regarded filly Iâ€™m a Looker last out after setting fractions :21 4/5 and :45 1/5 en route to a game victory in 1:11 1/5. A $40,000 Keeneland November 2012 purchase as a weanling, she gets the riding services of James Graham for the first time on Saturday when she breaks from post three.
â€œI know sheâ€™ll probable be on the front, whether we like it or not,â€ Flint said. â€œSheâ€™s a very high-speed mare. Itâ€™s a big step up, but Iâ€™m afraid theyâ€™re going to have to come and get us. Sheâ€™s on top of her game. Graham worked the horse last time, which is why he got the ride. Hopefully she can make it or get a piece of it.â€
GOOD DEED READY TO TAKE ON THE BOYS
Arguably the best local turf sprinter of either sex, Richard and Bertram Kleinâ€™s Good Deed is likely to test that postulation next out when she likely takes on her male counterparts. The Steve Margolis-trained daughter of Broken Vow exits a tough-trip second in the $75,000 Ladyâ€™s Turf Sprint at Gulfstream Park as the even-money favorite.
â€œIf all goes well, weâ€™re going to run in the (Grade III $150,000) Twin Spires (Turf Sprint) on (Kentucky) Oaks Day at Churchill Downs (on May 1),â€ Margolis said. â€œSheâ€™s feeling great and worked good yesterday. Sheâ€™s two-for-two at Churchill and it gives her more time after the Gulfstream race than running at Keeneland. She got slammed leaving the gate (at Gulfstream) and has had three good races this winter, so weâ€™ll give her that extra time and see how it goes.â€
After breaking poorly and being bumped repeatedly in the 12-horse field at Gulfstream Park, the 6-year-old bay mare recovered to rally resolutely, missing by a half-length at the wire behind Jewel of a Cat. In her previous two starts this winter, the Kentucky-bred broke the 5Â½-furlong turf course record at Fair Grounds in a December allowance and then easily took the $60,000 Pan Zareta Stakes over that same trip in January.
In 2013, Good Deed nearly broke Churchillâ€™s five-furlong turf track record when blitzing the course in :55.73. The half-sister to 2011 Breedersâ€™ Cup Turf Sprint (at Churchill Downs) runner-up Country Day does not seem to have lost much of that petrol, as the nine-time winner in 17 starts zipped a bullet half-mile on Thursday morning in :47.20 at Fair Grounds.
BLUFF TO AIM TOWARD SATURDAY ALLOWANCE
Fox Hill Farmâ€™s Bluff, one of the more exciting maiden victors of the Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots meet, will aim toward a Keeneland allowance for his next start, according to trainer Larry Jones. The son of Tapit out of a full-sister to multiple Grade I-winning Borrego was a distant sixth in the Grade II $400,000 Risen Star Stakes last out on Feb. 21.
â€œHeâ€™s doing well,â€ Jones said. â€œWeâ€™re going to aim toward a first-level allowance at Keeneland. I still think he has a lot of talent.â€
Bluff returned to the worktab on Thursday at Fair Grounds, negotiating five furlongs in 1:00.60. A $250,000 Keeneland September 2013 sale purchase, he is expected to ship to Keeneland with the rest of Jonesâ€™ string at the end of the meet.
MIZZ MONEY TO APPALACHIAN
L. T. B., Inc. and Hillerich Racingâ€™s Mizz Money is likely to carry the momentum of her three-for-three turf record in her last three starts to Keeneland and a graded stakes attempt for trainer and part-owner Bernie Flint. The daughter of Mizzen Mast broke her maiden at third asking on Jan. 19 at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots over 5Â½ furlongs and then returned a mere 20 days later to win a conditioned allowance over 7Â½ furlongs â€“ defeating the highly regarded Larry Jones trainee Divine Dawn in the process. Last out, the full-sister to impressive turf sprint mare Mizzen Miss defeated Divine Dawn once again on Mar. 7 to complete her turf hat-trick in the $60,000 Allen Lacombe Memorial on Mar. 7.
â€œSheâ€™s going to run at Keeneland in the Appalachian,â€ Flint confirmed. â€œSheâ€™s three-for-three and you canâ€™t ask for more than that. Sheâ€™s been doing great.â€
Briefly considered for the Grade II $400,000 Fair Grounds Oaks, Mizz Money was rerouted back to the grass. In the Grade III $125,000 Appalachian Stakes, she is likely to face Breedersâ€™ Cup Juvenile Fillies turf victress and Eclipse Award finalist Lady Eli.
Mizzen Miss, according to Flint, has been retired sound and has been sent to Kentucky to be bred.
â€œShe had not won a stakes yet and I thought it was a good time to breed her,â€ Flint said. â€œShe went to Verrazano and is up there (in Kentucky) now.â€