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NEW ORLEANS, LA – Rupp Racing’s multiple graded stakes winner Owendale headlines a competitive field of eight older horses for Saturday’s 96th running of the $400,000 New Orleans Classic (G2) at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots.
Trained by Brad Cox, Owendale began his 5-year-old campaign with a third-place effort in the February 27 Razorback (G3) at Oaklawn Park behind top Dubai World Cup (G1) contender Mystic Guide. Installed as Mike Diliberto’s 9/5 morning line favorite, the Into Mischief colt will break from post 2 with Florent Geroux aboard as he eyes his first graded stakes score since his 3-year-old campaign.
“Looking back, he didn’t get the greatest trip behind a really tough horse (Mystic Guide),” Cox said of the Razorback. “It didn’t appear that you wanted to be down inside at all that weekend, so we’re hopeful he can move forward. I like the mile and 1/8 with him. He’s made about half of his money at the distance and we’re hoping we can get his form turned around.”
Breaking to the inside of Owendale is Speedway Stable’s 2019 Santa Anita Derby (G1) winner Roadster (3/1 with John Velazquez), who is making his first start in more than a year for new trainer Mike Stidham. The Quality Road colt was previously campaigned in California by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert and ran 15th in the 2019 Kentucky Derby.
“We got him at the end of the year,” Stidham said. “He’s had issues with his feet since he was a 2-year-old, so we had a little stopping and starting since I got him, but right now, we got him as good as he can be. You can see by his worktab, he’s worked 3/4 of a mile 3 times in a row, but he’s coming off a year layoff, so he needed that to feel like I had him ready to go a mile and 1/8 in a Grade 2 race.”
JMJ Racing Stables’ Olliemyboy (post 3 at 12/1 with Irad Ortiz Jr.) will attempt his first start in graded stakes company for trainer Norm Casse following 2 consecutive allowance victories at the meet. Prior to entering Casse’s barn at the end of 2020, the now 4-year-old son of Union Rags had competed primarily over the Tapeta surface at Woodbine. In his first dirt try at two turns, Olliemyboy crushed a first-level allowance field by 4 1/4 lengths and followed that performance with a 1 1/2-length victory at against second-level allowance company.
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“He wasn’t flashy training on the dirt and I honestly didn’t know what to expect when we led this horse over the first time,” Casse said. “He’s earned his way into this race by doing all the right things. I’m really excited. His work 2 weeks ago was the best since I’ve had him. We put him in company with a fairly decent horse and it was heads up, and we came back and just worked him a 1/2-mile like he did before he won the second allowance. He’s on the same pattern, but I feel like he’s training very well and he looks fantastic. We are not dummies, we know we are longshots in here, but I think he’s got a really good shot.”
Another quality horse expected to garner attention in the New Orleans Classic is Courtlandt Farms’ 3-time winner Sonneman (post 8 at 9/2 with Joe Talamo), who finished second behind Maxfield in the February 13 Mineshaft (G3), the local prep for this race. Trained by Steve Asmussen, Sonneman recorded a powerful 5 3/4-length victory in early November at Churchill Downs.
Completing the New Orleans Classic from the rail out: Lothenbach Stables’ homebred Captivating Moon (post 4 at 10/1 with Marcelino Pedroza), an upset winner of the February 13 Fair Grounds (G3) on turf who is also cross-entered in Race 12, the $300,000 Muniz Memorial (G2), for trainer Chris Block; John Oxley’s Enforceable (post 5 at 8/1 with Adam Beschizza), fifth in the Mineshaft for trainer Mark Casse; Estate of James Coleman’s Chess Chief (post 6 at 6/1 with Luis Saez), a closing third in the Mineshaft for trainer Dallas Stewart; and Wayne T. Davis’ Mocito Rojo (post 7 at 30/1 with James Graham), sixth in the local Tenacious in February for trainer Shane Wilson.
Run at 1 1/8 miles, the New Orleans Classic is Race 11 of 14 and one of eight stakes races on Saturday’s program. The headliner is the $1 million Louisiana Derby (G2), a Championship Series event on the Road to the Kentucky Derby. The All Stakes Late Pick 5 (races 10-14) and All Stakes Late Pick 4 (races 11-14) are both estimated at $750,000.
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