With the three year old prep races basically taking a break this week we will take a look at a race that will
have an impact on the handicap division and who will be in the running the rest of the year and who doesn’t
On Sunday February 29th, 2004, the Fair Grounds hosted the Grade II New Orleans Handicap for four year
old and upward to be run at 1 and 1/8th miles. If you didn’t know any better you might have thought that you were
looking at the 2003 Kentucky Derby. Three horses that ran in the Kentucky Derby were returning in this
race, including the winner FUNNY CIDE. This race also featured PEACE RULES and Travers’ winner
TEN MOST WANTED. All three figure prominently in the handicap division this year as returning four year
Rounding out the field were SEATTLE FITZ, SPANISH EMPIRE, SAINT LIAM, SIR CHEROKEE, and
COMIC TRUTH. All but two of these horses had a graded stakes win to their credit and this made for a quality
With such a wide open field the favorite was sent off at 5-2 with SEATTLE FITZ (second in the
Donn Handicap) holding a slight edge over TEN MOST WANTED, who also was sent off at 5-2. The third choice
in the race was PEACE RULES, who was coming off a poor performance in the Sunshine Millions Classic in his
first start of the year back in January.
SAINT LIAM and SIR CHEROKEE were both coming into the race in top form with two impressive
victories by SAINT LIAM and three victories in a row for SIR CHEROKEE dating back to last year’s Arkansas
With not much pace in the race and three solid works since his poor performance back in January
PEACE RULES was sent right to the lead but it wasn’t without incident as there was commotion when he dropped
over to the rail. SAINT LIAM had to check forcing SIR CHEROKEE and TEN MOST WANTED to also have
trouble going into that turn. After setting some very quick splits PEACE RULES was able to fight back and score
by a head over SAINT LIAM, who had passed PEACE RULES in the stretch. The time of the mile was 1:35:2, which
would have been a track record for the mile. SAINT LIAM who had trouble on the first turn as well as in the stretch
was bumping with PEACE RULES throughout the stretch and just missed scoring by a head. He did however stamp
himself as one to watch in the handicap division with two wins and a second since switching to the Dutrow Jr. barn.
There was another three lengths back to the third place finisher FUNNY CIDE, who dropped back on the
turn before coming again to finish third. In his two tries this year against graded competition he has finished third
both times. He would have to improve to be considered among the better older horses this year. SEATTLE FITZ
and TEN MOST WANTED finished fourth and fifth respectively with the latter encountering trouble on the turn
and racing wide throughout. With that race under his belt he should be tighter and should be given another
chance. SIR CHEROKEE, who encountered the most trouble finished an even sixth and exited the race with a
cut on his ankle and general body soreness. He is another who should be given another chance off that race.
With MEDAGLIA D’ORO clearly at the top of the list and PLEASANTLY PERFECT not far behind, the
top two finishers in here along with those who had trouble in the race will make their presence felt before the year
In Triple Crown news, Oaklawn held one of their prep races, the Southwest stakes for three year olds
going one mile. The winner was the undefeated SMARTY JONES, who scored by three quarters of length and
is now 4 for 4. His next start is expected to be in the Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn on March 20th.
At Turfway SILVER MINISTER scored in the John Battaglia Memorial and will be pointed to the Lane’s End on March 20th.