Just hours after trainer Tom Amoss captured the $1 million Jean Lafitte Stakes at Delta Downs on Saturday with Rise Up, he learned his Fair Grounds Thanksgiving Handicap title-holding horse, Delaunay, had a 103-degree temperature. That prompted him to withdraw the 6-year-old from this year’s traditional Turkey Day race.
“Horses are very sensitive to weather changes,” Amoss said. “And we’ve had several here in New Orleans.”
Amoss confirmed Sunday that Delaunay, the Fair Grounds’ Horse of the Meet last season, was diagnosed with bronchitis, which he said typically runs its course in a week.
“So, no way would (Delaunay) run his best race on Thursday,” he said. “We’ll wait a week, then begin training, and that should put him ready for mid-December. Then we’ll look for a race.”
Delaunay’s early withdrawal leaves three-time defending Fair Grounds riding champion Rosie Napravnik without a mount in the six-furlong, $100,000 sprint. Napravnik rode Delaunay to victory in three of his past four graded-stake wins: the 2012 Thanksgiving Handicap, the Duncan F. Kenner Stakes and the $400,000 Churchill Downs Stakes.
Gantry, the 6-year-old trainee of Ron Faucheux, becomes the favorite in the 88th running of Thursday’s race. The gelding son of Pulpit, owned by Evelyn Benoit of Brittlyn Stable, will have Richard Eramia aboard when he competes for a chance to capture the title he conceded to Delaunay by 21/2 lengths last year.
“You never want to see a horse not be able to perform,” Faucheux said.
But Faucheux also believes his horse deserves to be the favorite.
“The way my horse is training now, I think we have a very good chance,” he said.
Gantry goes into the race fresh after a 41/2-length win in the six-furlong, $50,000 Temperance Hill Stakes on Sept. 7 at Louisiana Downs.
Post time on Thanksgiving is 11 a.m.