While securing its first ever Grade 1 race will have to wait at least another year, Fair Grounds did receive good news last month from the American Graded Stakes Committee, which elevated the $100,000 Louisiana to Grade 3 status for Saturday’s renewal.
A 1 1/16-mile lead-in to the Mineshaft (G3) and newly-renamed New Orleans Classic (G2) later in the meet, the Louisiana field will remain in flux pending the weather as six of the eight entries were cross-entered for the slightly more lucrative Colonel E.R. Bradley S., a $125,000 race scheduled for approximately the same distance on the grass.
Whether he lands in the Louisiana or in a potentially off-the-turf Bradley, Silver Dust is the horse to fear. Second in the 2019 Louisiana, the gray rebounded to win the Mineshaft before finishing a close second in the New Orleans H. He later defeated Kukulkan in the West Virginia Governor’s (G3) and concluded 2019 with a photo-finish loss in the Lukas Classic (G3).
“We gave him a freshening since the race at Churchill,” trainer Bret Calhoun said. “Just a little breather, but we’ve had him back on the work tab for a little while now. He’s ready to go. He’s been training really well and we ‘re excited about the new year with him.”
Grade 3 veterans Blended Citizen and My Boy Jack, despite some success on the grass, might fare better on dirt. That’s especially true of the former, who was a head second in the Tenacious S. on last month’s Santa Super Saturday card.
Captivating Moon and Tone Broke would feel at home on either surface, though Captivating Moon’s best main track work has come in the slop, most recent a 1 3/4-length decision in the Buddy Diliberto Memorial. Tobe Broke won two-thirds of the Canadian Triple Crown last summer for Steve Asmussen, the Prince of Wales at Fort Erie on the dirt and the Breeders S. over the Woodbine grass.
If it remains on the turf, the Colonel E.R. Bradley favorite is likely Mr. Misunderstood, who notched a repeat win in the River City (G3) at Churchill Downs in November and is 3-for-5 over the Stall/Wilson turf. Trainer Brad Cox has also entered the stakes-winning Factor This, while Mike Maker has a potential trio of contenders in Temple, Parlor, and Space Mountain. The Louis Roussel-trained Sailing Solo steps up to stakes company after three straight allowance wins, while Midnight Tea Time could factor for Joe Sharp.
One of the highlights of the card will come early as the $100,000 Duncan F. Kenner S. will be the first added-money feature of the day as Race 2. The 6-furlong dash features a showdown between last year’s Woody Stephens (G1) winner and H. Allen Jerkens (G1) runner-up Hog Creek Hustle and Grade 3 victor Bobby’s Wicked One, who is 4-for-5 over the track and distance. The five-horse field also includes Grade 3 veteran Do Share and Pete’s Play Call, last-out winner of the Dec. 21 Bonapaw S.
The $100,000 Marie Krantz Memorial for fillies and mares, scheduled for about 1 1/16 miles on the turf, features Grade 3 heroines Notapradaprice and La Signare, the former a gate-to-wire scorer of the off-the-turf Blushing K. D. S. on Santa Super Saturday. La Signare, meanwhile, has raced sporadically since the summer of 2018, most recently finishing third by a neck in an allowance at Keeneland in October.