Big Day at the Ol' Track
Written by Jack Moss
Sunday, 04 March 2007 11:24
On Saturday, March 10th, the eyes of the horseracing world will be on the Fair Grounds for Louisiana Derby Day, the Mid-City track’s seasonal climax.
This year’s Derby Day will be the richest day of racing in Louisiana history with a card featuring five stakes races worth $2.1 million, highlighted by the 94th running of the $600,000 Grade II Louisiana Derby.
Its fat purse aside, the Louisiana Derby is always an important race, for, among other reasons, it is considered a Kentucky Derby Prep, which means that its winner is guaranteed entry into the “Run for the Roses.” And with that, of course, comes a chance at immortality.
What makes the Louisiana Derby a good race, though, is that its field—much like that of other Derby Preps—is usually much deeper in talent than just its eventual winner. Several Louisiana Derby runners-up and also-rans have gone on to have outstanding careers. Funny Cide, for instance, who placed second in the ‘03 Louisiana Derby, went on to win both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes later that year.
And with this year’s field likely to be as good as ever, it’ll be no surprise if one (or more) of the three-year-old colts that rumble around the Fair Grounds’ one-mile oval on Saturday becomes a legend in thoroughbred racing history.
On the top of the list of candidates for legendary status is Michael and Doreen Tabor’s Circular Quay (pronounced “key”), an impressive colt who finished 2nd in last year’s biggest two-year-old race, the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, and who has been running especially well so far in his sophomore season.
Among the other potential starters in the Louisiana Derby are Raymond Cottrell’s Birdbirdistheword, winner of the Grade III Delta Jackpot Stakes two months ago, and Paul Reddam’s Liquidity, runner-up in both the Grade I Hollywood Futurity in December and the Grade III Sham Stakes on February 3.
Certainly, though, the Louisiana Derby is not the only big race on Saturday’s card. The 41st running of the $400,000 Grade II Fair Grounds Oaks—the feminine equivalent of the Louisiana Derby but restricted to 3-year-old fillies—will also be a must-see, as will the Grade II Mervin H. Muniz Jr. Memorial Handicap (annually the Fair Ground’s biggest turf race) and the Grade II New Orleans Handicap, a race which in the past has featured the likes of Wild Again (winner of the inaugural Breeders’ Cup Classic) and Real Quiet (winner of both the ’99 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes).
Anyway, all of the other truly civilized New Orleanians will be there. Won’t you?
Post time for the first race is 12:30pm.
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