“We’re talking about practice. Not a game. I mean, how silly is that? We’re talking about practice.”
— Former NBA legend Allen Iverson
War Story must be an Iverson devotee.
The promising 3-year-old, scheduled to race Saturday afternoon in the 71st running of the Grade III $200,000 Lecomte Stakes at the Fair Grounds, isn’t a fan of early morning workouts, the norm in U.S. horse racing. So he goes through the morning motions with his racing team. During this stretch, trainer Tom Amoss calls him lackadaisical.
Afternoons, though, showcase a different thoroughbred. Speed. Effort. Eagerness.
“He comes to play, he comes to do his job,” said Amoss, who first compared War Story to Iverson, who despite his lack of practice enthusiasm, played the game harder than most during his 14-year NBA career.
The Lecomte, a possible prep for the Triple Crown saga, starts at 5:24 p.m. The graded stakes will be covered over 1 mile, 70 yards.
The Lecomte highlights a full slate of Saturday races, starting at 12:30 p.m. The Fair Grounds will hold five graded stakes.
In the Lecomte, meet-leading jockey James Graham will ride War Story from post four. Their competition includes Eagle, a winner in two of his four starts. He is trained by Neil Howard, a two-time winner of the Lecomte. Brian Hernandez, Jr., will ride from outside post 10.
Another challenger is Another Lemon Drop, whose early résumé includes dominating a one-mile allowance field by five lengths on a sealed, sloppy surface (Dec. 19). Three-time Kentucky Derby-winning jockey Calvin Borel will ride from post 10.
Also, Miguel Mena will start from the rail with International Star, the son of 2001 Kentucky Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus who has shown the ability to race on multiple surfaces. Last year, International Star’s owners, Ken and Sarah Ramsey, watched their Vicar’s in Trouble win the Lecomte with now-retired jockey Rosie Napravnik.
War Story, the son of Northern Afleet, is undefeated in two races — a seven-furlough win Nov. 1 at Churchill Downs and after being purchased privately and turned over to Amoss, a nearly three-length victory in a one-mile allowance at the Fair Grounds (Dec. 28).
“He’s doing everything that’s he’s asked to do,” Graham said. “And it’s a pleasure to be on his back. I look forward to racing him tomorrow.”