New Orleans Handicap Looks Wide Open, but Will Weight Make the Difference?

New Orleans Handicap – Grade II
FG Race #12 1 1/8m Dirt Graded Stake
Purse $500.000 For Four Year Olds And Upward.

1      First Sargeant       High Voltage       Franco M        117

Gets in with no weight from the inside draw so despite form that it hard to read and on the face of it doesn’t look good enough he must be given a chance. Add to that some very good work times and he probably must be given more of a chance than a similar horse in real life would be given. Why? well these handicaps are more often won by low weights than high weights at HRP despite there only ever being a few pounds between the runners and he did manage his first ever route win last time by making all the running something which this new race engine loves. If there was a dark horse in the race that may be at false odds it is this one.

2      Champion In Action        Night Rider Stables        Hernandez B J Jr       119

The seven year old showed that his teeth haven’t got too long yet as he took out the LA Stakes last time. Third in the grade one Woodward last year and the winner of nearly 1.5 K the 119Lb looks pretty lenient especially when you add in the perfect draw and his good speed figure in his seasonal debut win. The works aren’t exactly setting the world alight but they seem to mean a lot less these days so he must be among the favorites for a big effort today.

3      Big Bang Raj         Rock Creek        Beschizza A        120

I will never really understand the handicapping system at HRP as this one carries a pound more than the horse inside him despite half as much prize money and form that is at best only comparable. Forget his last effort in the SA Handicap because if you go too far back on this new engine the chances are you end up staying there so it is better to judge him on his second in the San Pasqual in the race prior. The draw certainly means we will see the best of him today and he must be a top four chance.

4           Jumbo Bite       Nakamura Stables      Carrasco V R        120

The only real form we can judge him on for this race that really gives him a chance was his stunning win in the grade one Clark Handicap last year. Carrying two pounds less he won that in a driving finish trumping any of the form he had shown before. Like Big Bang Raj we have to forget his last effort as he was race engined out of the race but if he is anywhere close to his Clark form then he must have some sort of chance. The extra weight makes him vulnerable though so we will have to wait and see what difference that makes.

5     Milford Sound      Mwn Racing        Lanerie C J         122

This horse has always promised a bit more than he has delivered but has still managed 13 wins in his nice career. A dead heat winner of the Mineshaft last time he has often found it tough when stepping up in grade and gets a dubious looking top weight here which will probably ruin his chances of doing so again. Two from two this year and both in graded stakes he is certainly in good form but i just can’t help thinking that he would have to improve again to win here. The ability is there though and if by some miracle the weight doesn’t stop him then he would have to be given a chance.

6         Crimson Rioja      Mo Mentum Farm         Cedillo A      117

Under rated, working well and bottom weight, that’s a pretty potent formula for a handicap at HRP so we have to look at this one pretty carefully. He won in a very fast time at SA on seasonal debut but was then drawn wide and like one or two others here got race engined out of the race in the Razorback last time. He did make up plenty of ground to be beaten only a length into seventh though and one feels that that effort was better than it looks on his form line. There was nothing much prior to that but horses don’t need to show gradual improvement at HRP and one feels that his first two efforts this year marked the sort of improvement that may see him as a real threat here.

7       Hint Of Sugar        Arindel       Jaramillo E        118

If you look at the works and his early three year old form you would have to ask how on earth he hasn’t won more than three races. This one is either a bit or a morning glory or one that is just waiting his moment but we wont know that until after they cross the line in this race. Just 118Lbs for a 1.36 flat mile worker looks too good to be true though.

8      Kick Rocks        Nakamura Stables        Court J K        119

Made all to win the Valedictory Stakes then weakened badly off the lead in the Mineshaft last time so i am not sure what we will get today. A consistent sort he is worth his place here but is not a stand out.

9        Home Spirit       Night Rider Stables        Ferrer J C     120

Only beaten a neck with a pound more in the Clark Handicap you would have to say he has the beating of at least Jumbo Bite on that run. In truth this is a good horse who probably deserves a few pounds more from the handicapper, so though he is in the upper part of the weights he may still be well enough weighted to win.
He has the beating of Crimson Rioja too on his Razorback effort too so i think he may be one of the safer bets in the race.

10      Charleys Latte         John Henry      Bridgmohan S X      118

Looking at his last four races against his previous form and adding that to his work speeds it is hard to work out why he has been running so badly. The big plus is that he has come down the weights, the big minus is he gets a rotten draw to try and return to form. At his best he won one of the best BC Classics we have seen so anywhere near that form with just 118Lbs and he wins this hands down.

11       Proud Crown       Williams9       Velazquez J R       121

After eight wins and over 1K of prize money along with six graded stakes wins Mb Stables took this one to TUP and FON for two wins before selling the horse at auction. With the champion trainer having to sink as low as fair tracks to get this one back in the winning frame of mind it would be a surprise if in his first race for the new trainer that he would be up to a race at this level carrying 121Lbs. Stranger things have happened at HRP however and it would be great to see this one back to his brilliant best.

12      Saturday Khartoum     Rousee        Saez L        119

Now an eight year old he has been a great race horse over the years amassing 11 wins and nearly 1.3K in prize money. He dead heated with Milford Sound last time and gets weight off that rival so must be favorite to come out on top today in that contest. The draw monster however is no respecter of age and he gets dumped out in the cheap seats for this. There is no doubt he has the ability and with a fair weight would not be without a winning chance if the race engine is kind.


A tough race with a few has been’s and a few maybe’s and some grand old campaigners thrown into the mix. these races do tend to go to the lower weights however so i am going for Crimson Rioja and First Sargeant who may offer some value for the Disney dollars.

Categories: Grade II, STAKES ARTICLES

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