Big Weekend in NOLA for WPT
It could be a big weekend for WPT Partners, Terry Finley, and Jeff Lifson in New Orleans. In a span of 30 minutes two black and gold bearers go postward in graded stakes races.
3-year-old ridgling Commanding Curve contests the $400,000 Risen Star Stakes (G2) for trainer Dallas Stewart and jockey Robby Albarado. Freshened after breaking his maiden in November at Churchill, the son of Master Command comes into the Risen Star with six straight bullet workouts to his name. He’s also been working in tandem with 2013 Kentucky Derby runner-up Golden Soul.
Stewart and Albarado are no stranger to being in the winner’s circle together. Albarado was the regular rider for WPT’s grade one and multiple graded stakes winner Macho Again.
50 Kentucky Derby qualifying points are on the line in the Risen Star, the local prep for the March 29 Louisiana Derby.
“We’re excited about our chances,” said Stewart, a Louisiana native. “It took him four tries to break his maiden, but when he did, he did it the right way. Our post isn’t ideal, but he’s got tactical speed and Robby knows him. We’re just looking for a good run to set us up for the Louisiana Derby and the first Saturday in May.”
“After this horse broke his maiden, Dallas and I said down and mapped out a plan for the first part of the year,” said WPT president Terry Finley. “The Risen Star’s been our target since the first week of December. It was tempting to run in the Lecomte, but he already has seasoning around two turns, and we like the idea of coming into these Derby preps with a fresh horse.”
The Risen Star is race 11 on the card with a 5:25 CT post time. Commanding Curve breaks from the 13 hole in the 14-horse field.
Next up is Ground Transport. The 4-year-old son of Big Brown loves Fair Grounds, he’s hit the board in seven of eight starts including three wins. He takes on a salty group of older horses in the $150,000 Mineshaft Handicap (G3) on Saturday.
Trained by Mike Stidham, Ground Transport comes into the Mineshaft off a wire to wire score in an allowance race over the oval on January 24. He’s been in good form since returning to conventional dirt after failed turf and synthetic attempts last year.
“Physically the horse couldn’t be doing any better,” said Stidham. “There’s quite a bit of speed on paper which is a little worrisome because he’s been on the lead in his recent races, but I don’t think he’s one dimensional. He’s shown versatility in the past, particularly as a three-year-old. He loves his home court, we’re the only horse in the field with multiple wins over the surface.”
The Mineshaft is race 12 on the card with a 5:55 CT post time. Ground Transport breaks from the hole in the eight-horse field. Regular pilot Mark Guidry is aboard.