The Black Gold Stakes drew 10 sophomores in what looks like a competitive renewal of the Fair Grounds fixture.
Graded stakes winner Lucky Player from the Steve Asmussen stable should get plenty of play in the race going about 7 1/2 furlongs on the turf. Lucky Player won the Grade III Iroquois Stakes on Sept. 6 at Churchill Downs, but he has yet to show the same spark in four subsequent off-the-board finishes, including an eighth-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.
The son of Lookin At Lucky kicked off his 3-year-old season with another uninspiring eighth in the Smarty Jones Stakes at Oaklawn Park on Jan. 19. Lucky Player will make his turf debut in the Black Gold and is slated to carry Robby Albarado from the outside post 10.
Another Black Gold entrant making his turf debut and with plenty of stakes back class is Bourbon Cowboy. By turf miler Cowboy Cal, the Richie Scherer trainee comes into this event with a win in a rained-off 5 1/2 furlong sprint on Jan. 23. Prior to that, he was second in the Sugar Bowl Stakes on dirt, in addition to game showings in two other stakes as a juvenile. Proven versatile on both dirt and synthetic so far in his career, the Kentucky-bred will attempt to add a third surface to his resume when he breaks from the 6 hole under Miguel Mena.
Two horses with proven turf prowess are the Phil Bauer-trained Another Lemon Drop and Mike Maker-trained Two Step Temper.
The former, a sleek dark bay son of Lemon Drop Kid, was under consideration for the Risen Star Stakes, but connections chose this race instead. A winner over the main course on Dec. 19 and a turf winner to break his maiden at Keeneland on Oct. 24, Another Lemon Drop could return to the dirt for the Louisiana Derby with a good performance here. James Graham rides for the first time from post nine.
Two Step Temper, by Two Step Salsa, returns to what seems to be his preferred trip after finishing a distant second to The Great War last out in the 96Rock Stakes at Turfway Park. In his three previous races, he ran solely in two-turn turf races. Francisco Torres picks up the mount and breaks from the rail.
The remainder of the Black Gold Stakes field is completed by Dekabrist (Antioco Murgia, post 2), Tuba (Jose Riquelme, post 3), Reality (Roberto Morales, post 4), Fly Friendly Sky (Florent Geroux, post 5), Fusaichi Flame (Kerwin Clark, post 7) and Bagration (Chris Rosier, post 8).
Edited Fair Grounds release