New Orleans (November 24, 2020) – Autumn Hill Farms Racing Stables Inc.’s Bobby’s Wicked One will look to rediscover his best form and try to repeat in the $125,000 Thanksgiving Classic when he starts as the one to catch in Fair Grounds’ Opening Day stakes. The 6-furlong dash is the first of 51 stakes worth $7.055 million at the 76-day meet, which will be run for the 149th time, and this year’s renewal is as deep and competitive as any in recent memory.
Bobby’s Wicked One (post four, 4-1 ML, Miguel Mena to ride), a 5-year-old son of Speightstown trained by All Stall, Jr., figures to welcome a return to a Fair Grounds main track that he’s 5-for-6 over lifetime. Last in both the Count Fleet (G3) behind subsequent Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner Whitmore at Oaklawn Park in April and Volatile in the Aristides at Churchill Downs June 6, Bobby’s Wicked One will race fresh on Thursday. Stall opted for a planned summer freshening after the Aristides, with an eye towards Fair Grounds and a winter campaign, and Bobby’s Wicked One, who is 6-for-17 lifetime, including a win in the Commonwealth (G3) at Keeneland in April 2019, has responded well.
“He just hasn’t been a summer horse, so it’s normal for us to give him some off time. He ran those two bad races but physically there was nothing wrong,” Stall said. “He usually wilts a bit in the heat and has proven to be a winter horse, so we’re looking forward to leading him over for another go Thursday.”
Bobby’s Wicked One put in his final piece of work with a sharp 5-furlong move in 1:00 over the local main track, the second-fastest of 45 drills at the distance. While he does enter off a five-month layoff, Stall is eagerly looking towards a title defense.
“Physically, and moving-wise, he’s come back better than ever this fall. He’s gotten that last bit of maturity in him and you’re going to see a very thick, strong horse in the paddock,” Stall said. “We weren’t able to get a prep off the bench but he’s a fresh, sharp horse, so hopefully he breaks running and we can get over to the rail. For whatever reason, he’s a very confident horse when he can get to the rail, from what Miguel has told me.”
Susan Moulton’s Manny Wah (post 5, 3-1, James Graham) may be winless in seven starts this year for trainer Wayne Catalano but you could argue he enters with the best recent form of any of his seven rivals. He comes in off a close and troubled fifth-place in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Keeneland on November 7. The 4-year-old son of Will Take Charge was third in both the Count Fleet and Aristides and is 3-for-21 lifetime. He hasn’t missed a beat since his Keeneland run, which may have surprised everyone but his trainer.
“We thought he was live as a firecracker that day and with the layout of the race we thought we were a winner, but he gave up the spot to the 7 (Whitmore) and that was it,” Catalano said. “I think we’ll be in the catbird seat (Thursday) off the speed, pull the trigger, and go baby, go.”
ERJ Racing LLC, Madaket Stables LLC, and Dave Kenney’s Landeskog (post six, 4-1, Colby Hernandez) will look to get untracked after a disappointing sixth at odds-on in Pimlico’s Oct. 3 Frank J. DeFrancis Memorial Dash (G3). The 4-year-old son of Munnings returned from a 10-month layoff and posted a decisive win in an optional-claimer at Ellis Park in August while making his first start for trainer Brad Cox but seemed to regress at Pimlico. Landeskog is 3-for-7 lifetime, and figures to be pressing Bobby’s Wicked One the entire way.
Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC and Stonestreet Stables LLC’s Nitrous (post two, 7-2, Adam Beschizza) was third, beaten just a head, in the DeFrancis for trainer Steve Asmussen and will look to break a nine-race losing streak. The 4-year-old son of Tapit is 3-for-17 lifetime and has faced some of the best in the sprint division since winning the Bachelor at Oaklawn in April 2019.
Gary Broad’s Tringale (post one, 12-1, Mitchell Murrill), second to Bobby’s Wicked One in last year’s renewal, has been working bullets in the morning for his first start since April; Brittlyn Stable Inc.’s Chublicious (post three, 20-1, Angel Suarez), fifth in the 2018 renewal; Winning Stables Inc.’s He’s Smokin Now (post seven, 20-1, Marcelino Pedroza), a restricted stakes winner at Canterbury Park earlier this year; and Erma Cobb’s Mr Money Bags (post eight, 9-2, Carlos Marquez), who won the Stonerside Sprint at Sam Houston in January, are also entered for the Thanksgiving Classic.
The Thanksgiving Classic is the eighth race on a strong 10-race Opening Day card, with a scheduled post of 3:35 p.m. CT. Weather permitting, the will be four turf races (R3,R5,R7, R9), along with an MSW for 2-year-olds (R6) that could have a direct impact on the “Road to the Derby” series, which culminates March 20, with the 108th running of the $1 million Twinspires.com Louisiana Derby (G2).
The meet kicks off at 12:00 p.m. CT and will mark the return of a traditional early and late Pick 5, which will encompass the first and last five races of the card, with the latter replacing the Black Gold 5 jackpot bet. In addition, there will be a daily early Pick 4 (R2-5), and late Pick 4 on the last four races of the day, as well as a middle Pick 4 when there are 10 or more races. A pocket schedule, along with a complete list of the stakes schedule, can be found here: https://www.fairgroundsracecourse.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/2020-2021-THOROUGHBRED-RACING-AND-STAKES-CALENDAR.pdf