The quality of Saturday’s Road to the Kentucky Derby Kickoff Day card at Fair Grounds extends far beyond the highlighted Derby and Kentucky Oaks preps. A case in point is the $125,000 Colonel E.R. Bradley H. (G3), which drew of 10 older horses to go about 1 1/16 miles on the turf.
Galton and Tower of Texas invade from Florida, where they finished second and third, respectively, in last month’s Tropical Turf (G3) at Gulfstream. While the seven-year-old Galton is a veteran traveler to New Orleans, having placed in four of seven starts on the Stall-Wilson turf, Woodbine mainstay Tower of Texas will be trying the local sod for the first time. Also seven, the Grade 2 winner notably finished a close second to Tepin in the 2016 Woodbine Mile (G1).
In addition to Galton, trainer Mike Maker has also entered Granny’s Kitten and Special Ops. Granny’s Kitten prevailed in the 2017 Bradley by a neck on soft ground, but the six-year-old has not seen action since running out of the money in both the Fair Grounds H. (G3) and Muniz Memorial (G2) at the last Fair Grounds meet.
Special Ops, two-for-four on the local turf, is a two-time stakes winner since being claimed for $50,000 last June. He enters off a 1 3/4-length tally in the Claiming Crown Emerald.
Dimension pulled off a 39-1 shocker in the $75,000 Buddy Diliberto Memorial here on December 16. Less surprising was Avanzare‘s domination of claimers on December 28 following an absence of nearly two years. The multiple Grade 2-winning veteran was claimed by Karl Broberg for $16,000 from that race and stretches out for his new connections.
Monster Bea is just three-for-20 lifetime, but enters off strong second in the $150,000 Artie Schiller at Aqueduct.
A graded-quality field of a dozen older horses have been entered for the $75,000 Louisiana at 1 1/16 miles, the next stop on the road to the New Orleans H. (G2) in March.
The Player, three-length winner of the Fayette (G2) prior to a dull try in the Clark H. (G1) last time, could go favored.
“I just don’t think that the Clark was his race, he’s better than that,” trainer Buff Bradley said. “He encountered some problems in there but he shipped down here and has been very happy here. He showed in the Fayette and in some of his other races that he’s got the talent to compete at a high level.”
Also entered were recent Hawthorne Gold Cup (G3) winner Scuba; Cooptado and Shut the Box, separated by a nose in the $73,000 Tenacious on December 16; Hawaakom and Dazzling Gem, one-two finishers in the 2017 Louisiana; and recent Zia Park Derby hero Cedartown. Making his first start on dirt since May is Guest Suite, who captured last year’s Lecomte for Neil Howard.
The $75,000 Marie G. Krantz Memorial, for fillies and mares at about 1 1/16 miles on the turf, has attracted a field of 11, including Giada Vegas and Joyous Thunder, who ran one-two in the $75,000 Blushing K. D. over the course and distance December 16. Multiple stakes winner Inveniam Viam and last-out allowance scorer Mom’s On Strike are others likely to attract support.
The $75,000 Duncan F. Kenner features a rematch among the top three finishers from the November 23 Thanksgiving H. Yockey’s Warrior won the holiday feature by five lengths over Chublicious with Blue Wings a distant third, and will be heavily favored to repeat in Saturday’s six-furlong feature.