June 18, 2024

Middle East sojourn next for Saudi Crown after Louisiana prep win

Saudi Crown wins the Louisiana at Fair Grounds
Saudi Crown wins the Louisiana at Fair Grounds (Photo by Hodges Photography)

Trainer Brad Cox and jockey Florent Geroux enjoyed a stellar day at Fair Grounds on Saturday, punctuated by Saudi Crown‘s authoritative win in the $169,750 Louisiana (G3). It was the fifth win and third in a stakes for Geroux, and the fourth win and second in a stakes for Cox.

Favored at 7-10 in the Louisiana, last year’s Pennsylvania Derby (G1) winner led his five rivals on a merry chase and opened up through the lane to score by 5 3/4 lengths, wrapped up, in what served as his prep for next month’s $20 million Saudi Cup. The final time for 1 1/16 miles over a fast track was 1:43.20.

“We hope he’ll take to the one turn,” said Cox, referring to the one-turn, 1 1/8 miles of the Saudi Cup outside Riyadh. “He showed some ability around one turn to start his career.”

Owned by FMQ Stables, Saudi Crown paid $3.40. Red Route One finished second, a half-length ahead of 2023 Louisiana winner Happy American. Rounding out the order of finish were Five Star General, Confidence Game, and Smile Happy.

The Louisiana was the fourth win in seven starts for the gray, who captured his first two starts sprinting last spring before losing two photo-finish heartbreakers, the first to Fort Bragg in the Dwyer (G3) at Belmont Park and the second to champion Forte in the Jim Dandy (G2) at Saratoga.

Victorious in the nine-furlong Pennsylvania Derby in his next start, Saudi Crown concluded his first campaign with a 10th place run in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) at Santa Anita, a sub-par finish after he chased a fast pace going 1 1/4 miles.

Bred in Kentucky by CHC Inc., Saudi Crown is by Always Dreaming and out of New Narration, by Tapit.

Earlier in the card, Strong Quality staved off a late charge from Beatbox to win the $97,000 Colonel E.R. Bradley S. by a head under Geroux. Favored at 9-10, Strong Quality won his first stakes in wire-to-wire fashion in a time of 1:42.05 for 1 1/16 miles over a firm turf.

Strong Quality, a five-year-old son of Quality Road, is owned by Gary Barber and Kinsman Stable and is trained by Mark Casse.

Geroux was also aboard Creative Cairo, who rallied to win the $99,000 Marie G. Krantz Memorial for fillies and mares by 1 1/2 lengths from 14-1 chance Join the Dance, while 7-5 favorite Tufani finished fourth.

Owned by the Estate of Brereton Jones and trained by Lindsay Schultz, Creative Cairo paid $13.20 after completing 1 1/16 miles on the turf in 1:42.55. This was the first career stakes win for the six-year-old Creative Cairo, a daughter of Cairo Prince.

The stakes action kicked off with Sousa Summer getting up in the final jump to deny 7-10 favorite Just Might in the $96,000 Duncan F. Kenner S. by a nose. Luis Saez was aboard the Bill Mott trainee, who covered 5 1/2 furlongs on the turf in 1:02.29.

Owned by Barber, Wachtel Stable, and R T Racing Stable, the son of Summer Front was also scoring his first career stakes win on a cold but sunny afternoon in New Orleans.