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Mar 09, 2007

Louisiana Derby back from year off

By: By Don Agriss - Horse Racing Editor, SPORTS NETWORK

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - The devastation that was and continues from Hurricane Katrina not only shattered people's lives, it also had an effect on thoroughbred racing. The Fair Grounds, located in New Orleans, suffered such damage that the 2005-2006 season had to be moved to Louisiana Downs in Bossier City near Shreveport.

The Louisiana Derby is back after the one year absence with a pretty solid field of eight. The 9-5 morning line favorite is Circular Quay. The colt has lost his last three starts after beginning his career with three wins. He was the 3-1 post-time favorite in last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile. That turned out to be Circular Quay's second straight runner-up finish.

Trained by Todd Pletcher, Circular Quay made his first start of 2007 in the Risen Star at the Fair Grounds. He went off as the 6-5 favorite in the 1 1/16 mile event. After lingering off the pace Circular Quay began his move to the leaders on the turn for home. However, at the top of the stretch he found himself in trouble when Slew's Tizzy clipped heels and lost his jockey.

Circular Quay, with John Velazquez in the saddle, remained racing and was able to finish a respectable fifth. The three-year-old is the favorite for Saturday because Risen Star Stakes winner Notional is bypassing the Louisiana Derby.

Returning for the Louisiana Derby are Risen Star runner-up Imawildandcrazyguy and Zanjero the third place horse. Birdbirdistheword and Soaring By are two other entrants getting consideration for the race.

The New York series for three-year-olds begins for good Saturday with the $200,000 Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct. Cowtown Cat, third in the Swale Stakes, tops the field along with Whirlaway Stakes winner Summer Doldrums.

Northern California three-year-olds go in the $200,000 El Camino Real Derby at Bay Meadows on Saturday. Seven have been entered in the 1 1/16 mile race.

California Derby winner Bwana Bull is the favorite. He gets all-time leading race winner Russell Baze in the saddle and the pair should be difficult to beat. Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer trains the favorite along with Candy’s Bro and Brave Sun, giving the conditioner an excellent chance at getting to the winner's circle.

Baze, by the way, will receive his second straight and 11th overall Isaac Murphy Award from the National Turf Writers Association for finishing the 2006 season with the highest winning percentage of any North American jockey.

Of special interest this weekend is the second Kentucky Derby Future Wager. The mutuel field opened as the 4-1 morning line favorite. Eclipse Award winner Street Sense is 8-1 along with Great Hunter and Ravel.

Hard Spun, following his loss in the Southwest Stakes, is 20-1. Circular Quay is 12-1 and Southwest Stakes winner Teuflesberg is 30-1. Highly regarded Any Given Saturday is 12-1 and is expected next in the Tampa Bay Derby.

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