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NEW ORLEANS, LA – Bruised foot be damned, Aubrie Green wasn’t going to miss a chance to ride Pound for Pound. Shaking off a Friday afternoon trip to the hospital after her foot was stepped on, Green climbed aboard her beloved Pound for Perfect and delivered a perfectly timed ride to hold off a hard-charging Jus Lively by a length in the $75,000 Star Guitar for Louisiana breds, which closed down the stakes action at the 2020-21 Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots meet.
Green won for the fourth time in a row on Israel Flores Horses’ Pound for Pound, a 6-year-old son of Redding Colliery, though the streak was in serious jeopardy some 24 hours before. Green was tossed from a mount on the Friday card and had her foot stepped on, which prompted her to take off her remaining mounts. X-rays proved negative, the bandages went on, and Green pronounced herself fit to ride. Not that there was ever any doubt in her mind.
“I said if it’s broken, we are just going to wrap that thing up and I’m going to ride this race,” Green said. “This horse is my whole world. I love him. He is my best friend. I’ve never been so in sync with a horse before. He just does everything for me. He gives me all of his heart every single time. It doesn’t matter what the odds are.”
Pound for Pound ($16.40) has done his best running setting or pressing the early pace but Green got him to settle a bit more in the Star Guitar, as they tracked loose leader Maga Man in second through pedestrian fractions of 25.12 and 49.95, which 3-2 favorite Just Lively was just a length back in third. The cadence, if not the order, quickened entering the far turn and Pound for Pound wrestled a short lead from Maga Man approaching midstretch, with Jus Lively in hot pursuit. Pound for Pound drifted off his line slightly while Jus Lively took second but had plenty left in reserve to score for the eighth time in 25 career starts for trainer Andrea Ali.
Pound for Pound won for the fourth straight time with Green aboard, dating back to a Delta Downs allowance in December 2019, along with the Louisiana Champions Day Classic here in December 2019 and an optional-claiming win here in January. The Star Guitar played out exactly as Green had it mapped out in her mind.
“I knew Maga Man was going to try to go,” Green said. “I figured if I get the lead easy, I’ll take it, but if he goes, I’m going to sit right off of him. We were going pretty slow right off the bat so I just held him right on his hip. Down the backstretch I asked him just a little bit just to make sure he knew we were still in the race because he gets a little lackadaisical.”
Ali, based primarily at Delta, shipped in Pound for Pound earlier in the meet and his stable star continued his affinity for the Fair Grounds oval, as that made it 8-3-3-0 locally. One of those second-place finishes was by a neck in the 2019 Star Guitar, when Green and Pound for Pound led every step but the last few. The pair made amends Saturday, in what was undoubtedly a team effort.
“This is the best horse Mr. Flores has had so far,” Ali said. “The whole team, from the grooms to the riders, have done a good job with this horse. Aubrie wins with him all the time. I don’t give her any instructions. She knows the horse.”
The Star Guitar is named in honor of the richest Louisiana-bred ever, a Brittlyn Stable homebred who earned $1.749 million in a distinguished 30-24-0-2 career that included 22 stakes wins for trainer Al Stall Jr.
As they like to say, ‘The waiting is the hardest part.’ Loaded entering the far turn with nowhere to go in the $75,000 Shantel Lanerie Memorial for Louisiana-bred fillies and mares, Mitchell Murrill and Rodney Verret’s Saints N Muskets bided their time, found a seam in midstretch, and kicked clear for a convincing 2-length win over Snowball in the penultimate 2020-21 stakes race at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots.
Saints N Muskets ($10.20) alternated between third and fourth while on the rail early in the Lanerie, as longshot Crescentcitypretty set an honest pace of 24.71 and 48.19, in what was a tight-knit field of six. The field bunched that much more entering the far turn as Murrill and Saint N Muskets drafted into contention while behind a wall of horses, with little to do but wait and hope for an opening. Said opening emerged in midstretch between a tiring Crescentcitypretty and Quikfast N Ahurry and Murrill produced Saints N Muskets, who burst through and pulled clear over a wide rallying Snowball. She’s Gone d’Wild finished a nose behind Snowball for the place, while 1.80-1 favorite Net a Bear, stablemate to the winner, finished fourth. Saints N Muskets covered the 1-mile and 70 yards over a fast main track in 1:42.81.
“It worked out perfect,” Murrill said. “The horse broke sharp, I was able to save ground in the pocket and wait for my time to go. Things opened up for me at the head of the lane and I was able to squeeze though.”
Saints N Muskets has morphed from an allowance/fringe stakes contender early in her career to a proven Louisiana-bred star over the past several for trainer Allen Landry. The 6-year-old daughter of Musket Man ended 2020 with a win in the Lookout at Delta Downs in November and started 2021 with a win there in January in the Magnolia. After running second to Quikfast N Ahurry at Delta in the Premier Distaff in February Landry brought her to Fair Grounds where she tuned up for the Lanerie running seventh in her turf debut in the March 6 Red Camelia. Needless to say, Saints N Muskets, who is now 6-for-19 lifetime, won’t be heading back to the lawn any time soon.
“She’s a much better horse on the dirt, she didn’t seem to like the turf at all,” Landry said. “I expected Saints N Muskets would be a little closer but Mitchell said he just sat there and waited for his time until it opened up.”
The Shantel Lanerie is named for the late wife of longtime jockey Corey Lanerie, who passed away in June of 2018 due to complications from breast cancer. Information on her foundation can be found here https://shantellaneriefoundation.com.
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