I hope Santa gave everyone some extra cash to continue this holiday week at the racetrack. Today we head down to Fair Grounds Race Course in New Orleans for the $75,000 Bob Fortus Memorial Stakes for 3-year-olds and up (fillies &mares) over one mile and 70 yards on the dirt.
The race is named in honor of the longtime New Orleans Times-Picayune turf writer and handicapper, Bob Fortus, who tragically died this summer due to complications due to injuries he suffered after being hit by a car, just three blocks away from the Fair Grounds entrance.
The field of 8 will go to gate for race 11 on the 12-race card with an approximate post time of 6:20 p.m. ET.
#8, Moonlit Garden, Florent Geroux, 7-5
The morning-line favorite has finished in the money in her last five races, including a third-place finish in her last, the Grade 2 Falls City Handicap at Churchill Downs on Nov. 28. This will be her ninth starts this year (1-2-4) and 27th of her career (4-6-9). Her last win was by a whopping eight lengths as the favorite in the Iowa Distaff Stakes at Prairie Meadows on July 6. She has raced in six graded stakes in her last eight starts and Florent Geroux is back in the saddle for his second straight start for trainer Brad Cox. Geroux back again should certainly help the cause. The pick.
#1, Enchanted Ghost, Mitchell Murrill, 7-2
This will be her 18th career start (4-2-7) and seventh this year (1-1-1). Coming off a disappointing 10th-place finish in the Big Dreyfus Stakes at Laurel Park on June 16, but prior to that had a runner-up finish in the Susquehanna Stakes at Penn National just 15 days prior. Obviously, she didn’t like the short layoff between those two. She is looking for her first win since a half-length victory in the Maryland Racing Media Stakes at Laurel Park on Feb. 18. 16 of her 17 starts have been at Laurel Park. This will be her first visit to Fair Grounds. Mitchell Murrill has the mount for trainer Michael Stidham. The more-than six-month long layoff could help/hurt the cause. We shall see. Runner-up.
#2, Saracosa, Shaun Bridgmohan, 8-1
Saracosa has finished in the money in five of her six starts this year (0-3-2) and is looking for her first win since a maiden special weight race at Ellis Park on August 17, 2018. In her last, she finished runner-up in an allowance race at Churchill Downs on Nov. 6. Shaun Bridgemohan takes over the reins from Corey Lanerie for trainer Brendan Walsh. We shall see if the jock change makes the difference. Contender.
#7, Mariah’s Galaxy, Kevin Smith, 9-2
This 5-year-old, Louisiana-bred is coming off back-to-back wins at Delta Downs in the Magnolia Stakes on Oct. 11 and the Treasure Chest Stakes on Nov. 15. This will be her sixth start this year (3-1-0) and 25th of her career (9-1-6). This will be only her second start at Fair Grounds and looks to improve on an 11th-place finish here in an allowance optional claiming race on March 31, 2018. Kevin Smith is back in the saddle for his eighth straight start (including her last four wins) for trainer Kevin Arceneaux. In the mix.