NEW ORLEANS (Friday, March 28, 2014) â€“Starlight Racing and Jack Wolfâ€™s Intense Holiday, who has been installed as the morning line 2-1 favorite in Saturdayâ€™s 101st running of the $1 million Louisiana Derby, arrived at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots Thursday shortly after noon along with Dogwood Stableâ€™s Palace Malice, the 8-5 early line favorite for Saturdayâ€™s 90th anniversary edition of the Grade II New Orleans Handicap.
Conditioned by Eclipse Award-winning trainer Todd Pletcher, the two were also accompanied by WinStar Farmâ€™s King Cyrus, a lightly-raced sophomore who will also run in Saturdayâ€™s Louisiana Derby â€“ annually the showcase race of the season at the historic New Orleans oval.
Intense Holiday inherited his Louisiana Derby favoriteâ€™s mantle based on his late-charging nose tally in the Grade II Risen Star Stakes here Feb. 22. Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith rode him that day and will return for the mount in Saturdayâ€™s main event.
Palace Malice, hero of last springâ€™s Belmont Stakes as the final jewel of racingâ€™s 2013 Triple Crown, returned to the winnerâ€™s circle in his first start and only trip to the post this season in South Floridaâ€™s Grade II Gulfstream Park Handicap on March 8.
King Cyrus, who broke his maiden by 11 lengths last summer, most recently finished second in South Floridaâ€™s Smooth Air Stakes at Calder on March 2.
â€œThey all went to track this morning and I was really pleased with them,â€ said longtime Pletcher assistant Ginny DePasquale, who traveled with the horses on Friday morning. â€œSomehow we managed to dodge the raindrops and they all did really well.â€
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