Past Performances - (This Race is on Sunday)
PP Horse Trainer Jockey Weight Odds
1 Seattle Fitz (ARG) Kiaran McLaughlin John Velazquez 115 7/2
2 Funny Cide Barclay Tagg Jose Santos 118 4/1
3 Spanish Empire Steve Asmussen Eddie Martin Jr. 115 8/1
4 Saint Liam Richard Dutrow Jr. Edgar Prado 113 8/1
5 Peace Rules Robert Frankel Jerry Bailey 119 9/2
6 Sir Cherokee Michael Tomlinson Terry Thompson 115 12/1
7 Comic Truth Patrick Daly Robby Albarado 114 12/1
8 Ten Most Wanted Wallace Dollase Pat Day 120 5/2
Fair Grounds - New Orleans Handicap (G2)
By MARCUS HERSH
1. TEN MOST WANTED 2. PEACE RULES 3. SPANISH EMPIRE
TEN MOST WANTED one of several G1 winners in the race; his came in the Travers; unproven against older horses, but that's the rule in this race; two flops last season came with excuses, and work pattern for '04 debut looks great; should have pace at which to run this excellent NO 'Cap. PEACE RULES surely will better his dull performance last out in Sunshine Millions Classic; Won La. Derby over this track last year, and is well drawn outside the other speed. SPANISH EMPIRE should be close throughout, and has improved rapidly in the last several months; no surprise if he outruns his odds in this spot.
Fair Grounds - New Orleans Handicap (G2)
By VANCE HANSON
Seattle Fitz (ARG)
Has turned into a big time player in the older male ranks following a hard fought win in the Aqueduct Hcp and a clear runner-up placing in the Donn behind pro tem leader Medaglia d'Oro; Argentine-bred has run well wherever he has travelled, good news asmany of these have run or trained over this track before; turned in a sharp work at the Palm Meadows Center before getting on the van, and figures to get an ideal stalking trip behind a pace that couldinvolve as many as three horses; no barn in South Florida has been as a hot as McLaughlin's - through Wednesday his win percentage at Gulfstream was still a hefty 48%; hard to dismiss.
If memory serves, the last Derby winner to come back for the New Orleans was Carry Back in 1962, and the future Hall of Famer finished third conceding 16 pounds to the winner; Funny won't have to worry about conceding that kind of weight today, but unlike the '62 version of Carry Back, the heralded NY-bred gelding has yet to demonstrate the ability to beat stakes-quality older horses; like the fact he has returned to better form this year, and perhaps it wastoo much to expect him to finish within rangeof Medaglia d'Orooff a single 7f prep; however, he will be facing Seattle Fitz again, a colt who finished well clear of him in the Donn, and giving him 3 pounds in the process;much will depend on whether Santos can get him to relax enough in the early
The best locally-based handicapper blossomed this winter, hanging a respectable Beyer in the Louisiana Handicap then going under by a narrow margin to Olmodavor, who is staying home in California to contest the Big Cap; blazing fast half-mile work a fewdays prior might have taken just enough off him to make the difference, but he's been noticeably more relaxed in recent preps; will try to wire this field, but will undoubtedly get somepressure from either Peace Rules and Funny Cide, or both, two guyswho have knocked heads with the best horses in training overthe last year; however, both ofthem are coming in off relatively sub-par performances, so thisguy might be in better shape than you might expect; worth a spot in exotics.
The wild card; since arriving in the Dutrow barn he's become a new horse; wouldn't have figured at all against this kind last year, but have to take him a little more seriously following that N3X allowance win which was accomplished in graded stakes time; has been stabled here for the last several weeks and has worked three times over this strip, the latter in racehorse time with little urging; seems to be blossoming at an opportune moment and figures to get overlooked in a field with several marquee names; appealing at a price.
Returns to the site of one of his biggest wins last year, the Louisiana Derby, which stamped him as a prime Kentucky Derby candidate; while efforts in the classics were mixed, he validated his early season form with an impressive win in the Haskell and astrong showing in the Travers despite contesting a very heated pace; don't necessarily warm up to horses coming off a loss in restricted company, but he had some excuses that day and Frankel said he wasn't himself; capable of much better, as we all know, and never easy to question Frankel's optimism heading into a race of this stature; obvious threat.
Injured on the eve of last year's Kentucky Derby, this Arkansas Derby winner has returned in fine style with two straight wins; however, have a feeling that he still has something to prove; he has not yet returned to his best 3yo form, and was not closeto equalling his Arkansas Derby winning Beyer (which he probably needs to surpassto win this) in either of of those wins; in addition, he only narrowly beat a G3 grass horse, Freefourinternet, in his stakes win at Sam Houston last out; alsowonder howmuch that 6f work five days ago took out of him; tricky read.
Won the Oklahoma Derby in convincing fashion, but came down to earth a bit facing what was arguably a more accomplished field in the Louisiana Handicap; have some reservations as far as class is concerned; this is the toughest race he's ever run in, andnothing in his record suggests he can necessarily hang with thebig boys, who aren't conceding that much weight to him; however, it must be acknowledged that he is probably a much better horse than he was for most of his sophomore campaign and he does getFG leading rider Albarado for the journey; longshot for the exotics.
Ten Most Wanted
Was expected to pick up the baton from fellow 3yo Empire Maker following the latter's retirement, but was disappointingly flat in the BC Classic even after encountering some trouble on the first turn; a very good horse when everything sets up for him, but he is also well known for turning in puzzling performances when well supported; like several others, he would benefit from swift fractions up front, and the long FG stretch gives him ample time to nail the speed; reputation makes him hard to ignore.