Calhoun hoping Mr. Money can start hot streak for stable
Trainer Bret Calhoun has won as many as 50 races during a Fair Grounds racing season. Right now, even a couple would feel pretty good.
Calhoun, through racing of Jan. 10 at Fair Grounds, had a meet record of 52-3-7-4, which is not at all like his stable’s typical production level. “Due” may be just an empty concept, but really, Calhoun is due for a Fair Grounds hot streak.
“It’s been pretty rough, a slow meet for a number of reasons,” Calhoun said by phone Thursday. “I think I’ve got a handful of nice young prospects coming to hand and the weekend of the 19th would be a good time to get things rolling.”
Road to the Derby Kickoff Day is Jan. 19 at Fair Grounds, and Calhoun has one of the likely favorites, Mr. Money, for the Grade 3, $200,000 Lecomte Stakes. Calhoun also plans to run Cowgirls Like Us, winner of the Trapeze Stakes at Remington Park last out, in the $150,000 Silverbulletday on the same Fair Grounds card.
Mr. Money’s last start came under bright lights, a fourthplace finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Racing just behind the leaders, Mr. Money loomed on the far turn as though he meant to do something serious. His run flattened out before the eighth pole, but he still stayed on encouragingly to finish fourth of 13.
“He ran well. At the threeeighths pole, he got us pretty excited,” Calhoun said.
The BC Juvenile was Mr. Money’s first try against other winners. He had graduated at third asking Sept. 28 at Churchill when Calhoun stretched him out to a route for the first time.
“I thought he got a lot of seasoning his first couple races, got a couple difficult trips, and he might have broke his maiden earlier with a better trip,” Calhoun said. “Looking at the [Juvenile] field, I thought there was one standout and that the rest of us were pretty similar, so we thought we’d give him a shot.”
The standout, Game Winner, won by over two lengths, but on established form there’s no horse of close to comparable quality in the Lecomte. Mr. Money, owned by Allied Racing Stable, raced a little too keenly down the backstretch of his two route races and has room to improve in that area, and Calhoun said the colt, by Goldencents and out of the Tiznow mare Plenty O’Toole, “has trained phenomenally” since getting back to regular exercise following a short freshening after arriving at Fair Grounds.
As for Cowgirls Like Us, she got in six starts as a 2-yearold, but from her trainer’s perspective just now should be starting to come into her own. Cowgirls Like Us, a Douglas Scharbauer homebred by My Golden Song out of Noth in better to do, debuted in late May in a 4 1/2-furlong sprint at Lone Star but wasn’t really a precocious type.
“She’s a filly that was a bigger, good-looking, scopier filly early on. She wasn’t really made to do what we asked her to do that early, and it took her a few races to get it together. We thought longer would be better for her,” Calhoun said.
Cowgirls Like Us won the off-the-turf Senorita Stakes in her two-turn debut and was comfortably best beating seven rivals Dec. 16 in the $100,000 Trapeze, another route. She appears to be coming into her 2019 campaign pointed in the right direction, and her trainer hopes that might generally be the case for his slumbering New Orleans stable.
Allowances top Sunday card
There are just eight races carded Sunday at Fair Grounds, but the heart of the program has substance.
Race 5 is a second-level turf sprint allowance with a $40,000 claiming option for fillies and mares, while race 6 is a firstlevel, two-turn dirt allowance race for 3-year-old fillies – a softer spot for young talent not quite ready for next weekend’s Silverbulletday Stakes.
Trainer Brad Cox might have the right horse for both.
In race 5, Cox tries Good Move on turf for the first time, and the 4-year-old filly stands a decent chance of taking to the surface. She’s by Broken Vow, a decent grass influence, and her dam, Change Up, equaled her career-best Beyer Speed Figure, a 96, winning the lone grass race of her career. Good Move won her debut and a first-level allowance race last winter at Oaklawn Park, but things went amiss thereafter. She finished up the track on a sloppy surface in the Miss Preakness Stakes in May, didn’t start again until November, and again failed to fire on a wet dirt track, this time at Churchill Downs. Good Move has been posting fast works at Fair Grounds and with a decent break under Shaun Bridgmohan should be prominent from the start.
Cox entered two 3-year-old fillies in race 6 – Dora Maar was just claimed for $30,000 on Dec. 20 and looks like the B team behind Cox’s other filly, Cosmic Code. Cosmic Code, a Juddmonte Farms homebred by Into Mischief out of Touch the Star, debuted on grass, but won her maiden second out on dirt, easily beating 11 rivals in a Nov. 25 Churchill route. She returned at Fair Grounds on Dec. 21 in a first-level dirt-route allowance and after slogging along on a contested pace was run down late by Grandaria, a likely player in the Silverbulletday.
Broadway Cat and Street Band look like the main competition, though the Louisiana-bred Fugitive Lady won a statebred-restricted maiden race Dec. 1 at Fair Grounds by a startling 18 1/4 lengths.
Mr. Money will enter Saturday’s Lecomte Stakes at Fair Grounds off a fourth-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.