NEW ORLEANS -- For Storm Treasure, the chance to defend his title in Saturday's Bonapaw comes after a year of disappointments.
He'll be looking to reverse his trajectory when he faces eight rivals in the Bonapaw. A 5 1/2-furlong race on turf, the Bonapaw goes as the fifth race and offers a purse of $60,000.
Storm Treasure ended 2008 in fine form, finishing third in the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint and third in the Grade 3 Kennedy Road at Woodbine before winning the Bonapaw last December at the Fair Grounds.
In his eight races in 2009, however, Storm Treasure has managed no better than a couple of third-place finishes and has failed to fire in his last three races.
Trainer Steve Asmussen said Storm Treasure's inability to find the winner's circle is due to an off-and-on interest in winning, not diminishing talent.
"If he wants to win, he can," said Asmussen. "It's all personality, because he's a talented older horse."
Storm Treasure will face two uncoupled horses racing for trainer Tim Glyshaw. Though Turfiste will be racing for the first time under Glyshaw's name, they are not strangers; Turfiste was under Glyshaw's care when he won the Black Gold in January at the Fair Grounds.
Glyshaw will also send Grand Traverse, who has thrived at the Fair Grounds, finishing second in two stakes races, including the Colonel Bradley, in which he finished a head in front of Storm Treasure.
"They have different running styles, so they will be running at different times," said Glyshaw. "Grand Traverse needs to have horses in front of him, and Turfiste will probably sit just off the pace."
Grand Adventure is the likely favorite, entering this race off a troubled sixth in the Grade 2 Nearctic at Woodbine.
Esplanade: She's Our Annie eyes fifth straight
The Esplanade has attracted She's Our Annie, who puts her four-race winning streak on the line as she faces eight others in the 5 1/2-furlong, $60,000 seventh race.
She's Our Annie came out of her win in the Dream Supreme at Churchill on Nov. 7 with an abscessed foot, but trainer Jinks Fires said that problem has been corrected. Although She's Our Annie shows no published works since that race, she has been training at Oaklawn Park, which did not have an official clocker on site until this week.
She's Our Annie will probably set the pace and will have to avoid a duel with Hotlantic, who brings a front-running style that has served her well in races longer than 5 1/2 furlongs.
One of the possible beneficiaries of a duel would be Northern Belle, who will be getting her favorite jockey, Brian Hernandez Jr., and her best distance.
"For this filly, going five and half is the key to some of her better races," said trainer Steve Margolis. "You can rate her, and she'll finish strong."
Sugar Bowl: Rivals seek trouble-free trips
Vito Filitto and Enumerate will each be looking for better racing luck in their rematch. After tough trips in the Old Hickory, the two are set to go forward in the $60,000 Sugar Bowl at six furlongs, the fourth race on the card.
Vito Filitto finished second in the Old Hickory on opening weekend at the Fair Grounds, a length in front of Enumerate, though both had rough trips around the oval.
For Vito Filitto, his way was impeded just as he began to make his run.
"We took him back, and then when he started to make his run, he got blocked behind a wall of horses," said trainer Bernard Flint. "That race just didn't line up for him, but he's doing super, and I am happy with the way he's going."
Enumerate was part of the wall of horses Vito Filitto had to get around. Vito Filitto was hung wide and stalled out as he attempted to pass the leader.
"He's capable of running better than he did last time," said Asmussen, who trains Vito Filitto. "We're hoping Saturday is the day that he does it."
Asmussen's other entry, Big Texas Daddy, will be making his first Fair Grounds start but looks like he will fit well in the field of seven 2-year-olds.
Letellier: Borel could be the difference
With 10 2-year-old fillies scheduled to go postward, the $60,000 Letellier Stakes looks like a wide-open affair.
Going six furlongs and carded as the 11th race, the Letellier winner could be determined by Calvin Borel's decision.
Borel has chosen to stay aboard Brown Eyed Baby, whom he rode to a 3 1/2-length win in a first-level allowance Nov. 28 at Churchill.
Trained by Cecil Borel, Calvin's brother, Brown Eyed Baby will have to get by Sheer Beauty, who won the Caressing Handicap on the same day at Churchill with Borel aboard.
Borel has been aboard for all three of Sheer Beauty's races.
- additional reporting by Marcus Hersh