ALBANO KICKS OFF CAMPAIGN IN LOUISIANA STAKES
NEW ORLEANS (Monday, January 12, 2015) â€“ Brereton C. Jonesâ€™ Albano will look to kick off what could be a breakthrough year for the son of Istan when he heads a six-horse field for the 69th running of the 1 1/16-mile Listed $75,000 Louisiana Stakes at Fair Grounds Race Course on Saturday afternoon. Trained by Larry Jones, the bay 4-year-old exits a sophomore season that saw him win the Grade III $150,000 Pegasus Stakes, finish second to subsequent Breedersâ€™ Cup Classic winner Bayern in the Grade I $1,000,000 Haskell Invitational and place in three other graded stakes. Since returning to training, the Kentucky-bred has worked phenomenally, including five bullet works in his last seven moves â€“ highlighted by a five-furlong breeze in :59.60 on Jan. 6. Kerwin Clark rides from post five.
The late Jim Tafelâ€™s 5-year-old Louisiana defending champion Fordubai has also served notice in the mornings that he may be a force with which to reckon on Jan. 17. A notoriously slow workhorse, the son of E Dubai shot out an uncharacteristic bullet on Jan. 4 for trainer Greg Geier â€“ working a half-mile in a :47.80. Very consistent throughout his career, the five-time winner and two-time stakes victor is exiting a game third in the $50,000 Tenacious Stakes on Dec. 21 and will team up with Robby Albarado from post two.
Multiple graded stakes-winning stalwarts Nates Mineshaft and Grand Contender will try to put their youthful rivals in their proverbial places when they line up in the Louisiana for their respective connections. Windy Hill Farmsâ€™ Anne Smith-trained 8-year-old Nates Mineshaft â€“ third last out in the $60,000 Thanksgiving Handicap at six furlongs â€“ owns the 1 1/8-mile Fair Grounds track record, as well as three graded stakes victories. The Louisiana will be his first attempt at a two-turn dirt race on a standard oval since he was third in the Grade I $400,000 Stephen Foster Handicap in 2012 â€“ finishing three-quarters of a length behind Wise Dan. Brian Hernandez, Jr. rides the son of Mineshaft from the rail. Maggi Mossâ€™ Tom Amoss-trained 7-year-old Grand Contender exits an easy wire-to-wire victory in the off-the-turf and sloppy $50,000 Buddy Diliberto Memorial on Dec. 19 and will try to improve upon his runner-up finish last year in the Louisiana. James Graham rides the five-time stakes winner from the outside post six.
Hard Aces (Jose Riquelme, post three) and Paddyâ€™s Notes (Marcelino Pedroza, post four) make up the remainder of the Louisiana field.
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