- When Saint Liam made his triumphant 2005 debut in the Donn Handicap, crushing favored Roses In May, he seemed poised to establish himself as the main challenger to Ghostzapper. But his 6th place finish as the even money favorite in the Big Cap at Santa Anita brought him down to earth, and he's been gone since that March 5 race. On Saturday he returns in the Stephen Foster, and his connections, past (and possibly future) and present say he’s ready. His suspended trainer Richard Dutrow said "When I left him, I was under the impression that he was better than ever," and stable manager Mark Reid said, “"He has been training very, very well…..His work [Tuesday] was very sharp, very crisp. I think he's ready to run a decent one. He's really coming into the race the way you'd want one to come in." [Daily Racing Form]
Flash back to the Big Cap and recall that he is not the only horse to come in from the East and fail in that race, and his outside post didn’t help either. Whatsmore, he’d had only 30 days since his big effort in the Donn, and he had never gone a mile and a quarter before. What this all adds up to is a win in the Foster; I think he’s a single in whichever Pick 4 – Churchill’s $250,000 guarantee or the NTRA national wager, live on ESPN - you want to play Saturday. He’s fired his best shots off layoffs – his hard fought second to Ghostzapper in the Woodward came after over 5 months off, and his win in the Donn was after more than two months off. Trainer Bobby Frankel is concerned that he could be involved up front with his other runner, Badge of Silver; however, both can sit behind the leader and it will be interesting to see what Prado, on Saint Laim, and Bailey do. It’s not inconceivable that they could both sit behind the speedy Presidentialaffair. Perfect Drift makes his first dirt start of the year and will likely be close at the finish as usual, but he hasn’t won on the dirt in quite some time.
Recall that Mark Reid had asserted that Saint Liam would go back to Dutrow; one of the reasons cited was that Frankel had other big guns including his rival Ghostzapper. With that one out of the picture, it will be interesting to see what transpires should he prevail on Saturday.
- Churchill Downs is facing a legal challenge to their proposed racing at the Fair Grounds. It was filed by local resident Jerry Jacobs.
The suit says Jacobs' "property and personal rights will be adversely affected by the operation of slots gaming at the Fair Grounds," which is five blocks from his house. It says the hundreds of employees and thousands of gamblers the slots operation would bring to "a generally quaint and quiet historic neighborhood" would increase pedestrian and vehicular traffic, as well as worsen noise, trash and other problems. [Times Picayune]Yeah, well, that seems pretty weak to me; I don’t see where a resident can be granted that kind of judicial relief for something five blocks away; besides, he already lives that close to a racetrack with all those gamblers and other unsavory characters a track attracts. The New Orleans City Council is supposed to vote on the racino today.
- The Racing Form unveiled some new features today; there are some cosmetic changes to the headers preceding each race that look a bit odd after all these years, but also noteworthy additions to trainer stats and track condition, check it out.