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Intense Holiday, Albano to renew rivalry in Louisiana Derby
Starlight Racing and Jack Wolf's Intense Holiday got up by a nose to win Saturday's Grade 2 Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds, and on Sunday morning on his way out of town Wolf was looking forward to coming back with wife Laurie for the Grade 2, $1 million Louisiana Derby March 29, especially after dining once at La Petite Grocery and once at Arnaud's during their brief but highly successful Crescent City sojourn.
"That's the game plan right now," said Wolf, speaking of the Louisiana Derby and their presumed second visit to New Orleans at the end of March.
"We talked to (trainer) Todd (Pletcher) about it and he's on board with it, and we talked to (jockey) Mikey (Smith) and he says he's open. Intense Holiday seemed to like the track here. The long stretch here seemed to suit him, so -- the good Lord willing -- the horse keeps going like he is, it looks like a good plan."
Brereton Jones's Risen Star runner-up Albano will also try again in the Louisiana Derby, trainer Larry Jones said Sunday morning.
"He ran a great race yesterday," Jones said. "I was very pleased with the way he ran. He just got beat in the last jump. I just don't like this 'déjà vu' stopping us all the time."
Albano is a half-brother to Brereton Jones's Mark Valeski, runner-up by narrow margins in the Risen Star and the Louisiana Derby two years ago.
"Albano reminds me so much of Mark," Jones said. "He looks just like him and he acts just like him. I just hope we don't get the same result in the next round like we did two years ago."
Ken and Sarah Ramsey's Vicar's in Trouble, who won Fair Grounds' Lecomte Stakes last month and finished third in the Risen Star, 5 1/2 lengths behind the top two, also came out of Saturday's race in good order, despite being handicapped by an outside post position.
"Obviously, (the post position) wasn't ideal for us," said Mike Maker's assistant trainer Joe Sharp Sunday morning, "but I thought our horse ran a good race and he definitely came out of it well and is doing well this morning. We haven't decided anything for sure quite yet about his next race."
Mike Pegram et al's Hoppertunity, fourth in the Risen Star, also ran a good race and came out of it well.
"I thought our horse ran a great race," said Bob Baffert's assistant trainer Jimmy Barnes Sunday morning, "especially since it was only the third start of his career. He seemed to like the track here and I think he showed he might be better at a longer distance."
The Risen Star was run at 1 1/16 miles, but the upcoming Louisiana Derby will be contested at 1 1/8 miles.