Chocolate Ride, Green Mask Top Saturday’s Stakes At Fair Grounds

by | 12.12.2016 | 4:47pm
Chocolate Ride with jockey Florent Geroux aboard wins the G3 Fair Grounds H. Feb. 25, 2016

GenStar Thoroughbreds' Chocolate Ride has won every turf stakes for 3-year-olds and upward on the Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots current schedule, save one — the $75,000 Buddy Diliberto Memorial. On Saturday, Dec. 17, the 6-year-old son of Candy Ride will attempt to change that in the 1 1/16-miles event over the Stall-Wilson turf course against a full field, including three also eligibles.

Unraced since May 7, Brad Cox-trained Chocolate Ride has focused his racing seasons squarely on that of the Fair Grounds, capitalizing on the bay gelding's adoration for the local grass and dominating on several occasions. Overall, he has six victories from eight starts over the Stall-Wilson and has set or equaled two course records. Winless in his last two, he reunites with Florent Geroux, who is 7-5-1-0 on the 9-5 morning-line favorite. The pair will break from post three.

Trainer Mike Maker sends out a pair of formidable challengers in Michael Hui's Greengrassofyoming and Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey's Granny's Kitten. Another in a long line of smart claims by Maker, Greengrassofyoming was acquired for $62,500 on June 26 and 13 days later won the Grade III Stars and Stripes at Arlington. In arguably his most impressive performance, the 6-year-old gelded son of Quest was flying late for fourth in the Grade I Arlington Million on Aug. 13. Robby Albarado picks up the mount from post five.

A full-brother to Grade I winner Kitten's Dumplings, who dominated the sister version of this event — the $75,000 Blushing K. D. — one year ago, Granny's Kitten has come into his own this season with a restricted stakes victory and two wins at this trip. Miguel Mena picks up the mount from post 10.

Last year's Diliberto winner Ibaka returns for trainer Bret Calhoun. A workmanlike victor last year over subsequent track record-setter Blarp, the Oklahoma-bred has won half his eight starts since, including two restricted stakes. A winner of 12-of-24 lifetime, the 5-year-old son of Uncle Abbie will break from post four under C. J. McMahon.

The remainder of the Diliberto field is comprised of Sky Flight (David Flores, rail), R. Great Adventure (Colby Hernandez, post two), Pumpkin Rumble (Mitchell Murrill, post six), Almasty (Gabriel Saez, post seven), Western Reserve (Shaun Bridgmohan, post eight), Belomor (Alexander Reznikov, post nine), Glorious Empire (IRE) (James Graham, post 11) and Golden Soul (Brian Hernandez, Jr., post 12). The also eligibles are Chip Leader (Richard Eramia, 13), Oakton (Francisco Torres, 14) and Only in America (Julio Felix, 15).

In other stakes action, Richard and Bertram Klein's homebred Cash Control, a half-sister to four stakes winners, tops a full field of 12 — plus four also eligibles — in Saturday's $75,000 Blushing K. D. Stakes at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots. At 1 1/16 miles on the Stall-Wilson turf course for fillies and mares 3-years-old and upward, the ninth running of the event gives the daughter of Pioneerof the Nile an opportunity to not only cross the half-million-dollar mark in earnings, but also to become the richest offspring of outstanding broodmare Hidden Assets with a victory or runner-up finish.

Sitting currently at $491,794, the multiple graded stakes-winning bay mare is within reach of half-brother and Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint runner-up Country Day ($503,829) and ahead of multiple stakes-winning half-sister and Fair Grounds track record holder Good Deed ($385,353). Closing in on the final races of her career, Cash Control is in phenomenal form, having won the Grade III Cardinal Handicap at Churchill Downs last out by four lengths. She will look to win her 10th start from 20 races when she breaks from post 10 under Shaun Bridgmohan.

Bridlewood Farm's Christophe Clement-trained Trophee (FR) appears to be a serious threat to the top charge, having clashed with top-notch New York and Kentucky turf fillies all season, including 2016 Grade I winners Al's Gal, Dacita (CHI) and Sea Calisi (FR). Fourth last out in the Ladies Marathon at Kentucky Downs, the daughter of Mr. Sidney will cut back significantly in distance from a series of distances ranging from nine to 12 furlongs over her previous 12 starts. James Graham rides from post 11.

The only member of the field to have beaten Cash Control is Mt. Brilliant Farm and Orrin Ingram's Secret Someone, one of the final racing progenies of the great A. P. Indy and a member of his final crop of 36 foals. The Mike Stidham trainee threw in a clunker last out in the Grade III My Charmer Handicap at Gulfstream Park West, finishing eighth, but is lethal when on her game, including soundly defeating Cash Control in September's $348,000 Kentucky Downs Ladies Turf by 3¾ lengths. Robby Albarado returns to the saddle from post six.

The remainder of the Blushing K. D. field is comprised of Selenite (Joe Rocco, Jr., rail), Dynazar (Brian Hernandez, Jr., post two), Nisharora (IRE) (Sophie Doyle, post three), Prado's Sweet Ride (Francisco Torres, post four), Kitten's Roar (Florent Geroux, post five), Prado's Sweet Ride (Francisco Torres, post four), Zeta Zody (C. J. McMahon, post seven), Penguini (Deshawn Parker, post eight), Uchenna (IRE) (Colby Hernandez, post nine) and Freudie Anne (David Flores, post 12). The also eligibles include Whiskey Eyes (Marcelino Pedroza, 13), Quest (GB) (Gabriel Saez, 14), Whimsicality (Miguel Mena, 15) and Factory of Faith (Shaun Bridgmohan, 16).

The 11th running of the $75,000 Bonapaw Stakes at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots features a competitive field of 12, plus two also eligibles, topped by Abdullah Saeed Almaddah's Breeders' Cup-placed Green Mask. The 5½-furlong sprint over the Stall-Wilson turf course is open to 3-year-olds and upward.

Trained by high-percentage conditioner Brad Cox, Green Mask exits a rallying fifth-place finish in this year's Grade I Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint at Santa Anita, coming up just 2¾ lengths short. Productive and unlucky this season, the 5-year-old gelded son of Mizzen Mast has won an allowance and lost three turf sprint stakes photo finishes from eight starts. The dark bay was third in the 2015 edition of the Turf Sprint and will be ridden for the first time by Robby Albarado from post three on Saturday.

Chief among Green Mask's rivals will be William Stiritz's graded stakes-winning Hogy, who continues to defy the aging process by showing career form at age seven. A winner of 15-of-38 lifetime, the son of Offlee Wild was powerful when taking down top-notch turf sprinter Power Alert (AUS) in a conditioned five-furlong turf allowance last out (Nov. 4) at Churchill Downs. In five starts in 2016, Hogy has three runner-up efforts — two in stakes company, including a stride-too-late rally behind 2015 Turf Sprint champ Mongolian Saturday in the Grade III Woodford Stakes at Keeneland two back (Oct. 8).

GenStar Thoroughbreds' Almasty was cross-entered into the $75,000 Buddy Diliberto Memorial going 1 1/16 miles on the turf, but appears more likely for the Bonapaw considering stablemate of identical ownership, Chocolate Ride, is likely to be the favorite in that event. Since shortening up to turf sprints in his last two starts, the son of Scat Daddy has raced very well, including a fifth last out — beaten just two lengths — in the aforementioned Woodford and a good third in the $309,000 Kentucky Downs Turf Sprint in which Hogy finished just ahead of him. A $30,000 claim at the Fair Grounds in March 2015, the consistent chestnut ridgling has earned nearly a quarter-million dollars and looks to be tough no matter which race he is in. Gabriel Saez rides from the rail.

Course connoisseur Latent Revenge will look to return to his winning ways for trainer Greg Foley and owners Steve Vanovich, et al. A wickedly quick winner of three of his four tries over the local grass, the dark bay son of Latent Heat snagged the $63,000 Mighty Beau Stakes earlier this year going five furlongs on the Churchill Downs turf and exits a poor last-place showing in Hogy's aforementioned allowance victory. Francisco Torres rides from post eight.

The remainder of the Bonapaw field includes Shadow Rock (Florent Geroux, post two), Bucchero (C. J. McMahon, post five), Grand Candy (David Flores, post six), Small Fortune (Shaun Bridgmohan, post seven), Cha Mono (Brian Hernandez, Jr., post nine), Win Lion Win (Colby Hernandez, post 10), Great Wide Open (IRE) (James Graham, post 11) and Brilliant Interest (Patrick Valenzuela, post 12). Candy Ruby (Richard Eramia, 13) and Rockport Kat (Miguel Mena, 14) are also eligibles.

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