The top three finishers from the Colonel Bradley enter Saturday’s Grade 3 The Fair Grounds Stakes in form, but the waters are much deeper this time around. Stretching out to 1 1/8 miles on the turf, they’ll take on a Chad Brown French import, classy foes with high hopes, and last year’s winner. Eleven total contenders, 4-year-olds and up, are entered. Race 11, post time is 4:56 p.m. CT.
After consistently successful importing European turf horses to American winner’s circles (at first asking no less), trainer Chad Brown enters Michael Dubb, Madaket Stables, and Louis Lazzinnaro’s Adhamo in The Fair Grounds. Making his first start of his 4-year-old season, Adhamo’s four wins came all in a row –two at the end of his 2-year-old campaign and two to kick off as a 3-year old — and culminated in a Group 3 score in the Prix la Force going 1 1/8 miles. Three of those wins came over soft going and one on Chantilly’s synthetic track.
“He trains really solid,” Brown said. “He’s been a nice addition to the stable. I like what I see so far. Since I am sending Zandon (for the Risen Star), I took a look at the rest of the card, and I loved the distance of the race. I feel the course might suit this horse. I’m not sure that he will want to be on rock-hard grounds as he would be maybe at Gulfstream. I am optimistic about the distance and the course might suit him. He’s a fun horse to get started on the card. These first-time in the country horses coming out of our barn seem to be popular horses so I’m happy to bring him over there and participate on the card and I think he’ll give a good account of himself.”
Previously trained by Freddie Head, this Intello colt bred in Ireland by Wertheimer et Frere has been based and raced in France before being sold and transferred to Brown’s barn. Jose Ortiz gets the call and will begin from post six (9-2 ML).
With two wins, a G1 placing, and a bullet work, Godolphin’s lightly-raced Santin has the PPs of a horse who will likely get bet in half from his 12-1 morning line odds. Making the first start of his 4-year-old season for trainer Brendan Walsh, Santin lost by a neck to Beyond Brilliant last out in the 1⅛ mile Hollywood Derby.
“The Hollywood Derby was his last chance to take on three-year-olds, so we said we sent him out there,” Walsh said. “Of course he was drawn 14 of 14 which wasn’t ideal, but I thought he ran a bang-up race. I think he is a pretty good horse. I think this is a good race to get his year started off.”
Tyler Gaffalione will make his first trip abroad this Godolphin homebred from post three. Godolphin received both the 2021 Outstanding Owner and Outstanding Breeder Eclipse Awards.
“He’ll probably improve for us because he is a big growth horse,” Walsh said. “He’s about as fit as he can be at home without running him. We didn’t stop on him very long when you think about it. He ran in California at the end of November, so he wasn’t off for that long. He’s been working great. He put in some real nice pieces of work in Palm Meadows in preparation for this race. I do think he will improve on Saturday. He’s ready to go.”
Making his second start after being sidelined for a year, Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Twin Creek Racing Stable’s Largent bypassed a return to the Pegasus World Cup Turf (G1) in favor of two more works at Palm Beach Downs and a softer spot in The Fair Grounds (G3). The post time favorite in January’s Tropical Turf (G3), Largent finished fourth, but his first time out of the exacta in 11 starts. Installed as the 7-2 second favorite, Largent only made one start in 2021, finishing second by a neck to Colonial Liam in the Pegasus Turf (G1). Named after Seattle Seahawks Hall of Fame wide receiver Steve Largent, Luis Saez will ride this 6-time-winning 6-year-old from post ten with tactical options.
Overcome by his pressers last out in the Colonel Bradley, Hugh Robertson and Wolfe Racing’s Two Emmys led the entire race until the final jump, finishing third by a half length. Morning line oddsmaker Mike Diliberto elevates the G1 winner to 3-1 favoritism. Breaking from the far outside in post eleven, he’ll need to repeat the sharp move he made to the front from the outside two back in the Sycamore if he wants the lead. Trainer Hugh Robertson calls on James Graham to guide his four-time winning 6-year-old.
“He doesn’t need to be in front,” Robertson said. “If he’s in front that’s fine, if he’s back a few lengths that’s fine–he ran well here coming from dead last one time going one mile, wove his way through horses. I think he’ll run wherever he gets light. We’ll just have to let Jimmy decide what to do and see how the pace turns out.”
Winner of the Colonial Bradley last out, Three Diamond Farms’ Forty Under is one-for-one on the turf at the nine furlong distance, winning a second-level allowance last summer at Saratoga while leading at every call. Mike Maker keeps with Mitchell Murrill after he guided Forty Under to the Bradley winner’s circle pressing Two Emmys and slipping by when it counted. He will break from post two (8-1 ML). Just three wins in forty-one starts at Fair Grounds, Maker also sends out stakes-winner Monarchs Glen.
Previously a Woodbine synth-specialist, Willis Horton Racing and Winchell Thoroughbreds’ Halo Again tried the turf for the first time, winning the Diliberto in December. His second turf start was equally impressive, though finishing second by a head to Forty Under in the Colonel Bradley.
“Both of his runs this meet have been solid as can be,” trainer Steve Asmussen said. “We were a little unlucky to lose the head bob last time [in the Colonel Bradley] but that’s horse racing. We hope to get there first on Saturday.”
Joel Rosario keeps the mount and assuredly has tactical options as he guides Halo Again nine furlongs, the furthest turf distance he’s been asked to go (post seven, 6-1 ML).