Local owners relish in dominant Derby Day victory at Churchill
By the time the 19 horses in the Kentucky Derby left the gate late Saturday afternoon for the greatest two minutes in sports, a New Orleans group was seven hours into a celebration following a great minute and 48 seconds.
The partners in FTGGG Racing were winners on Derby day at Churchill Downs with their 3-year-old colt, Masqueparade, who delivered a dominant performance in an 11¾-length victory in a first-level allowance optional claiming race on the Derby undercard.
“I’ve been to the Derby before two different times, and I thought the Derby was the greatest thing ever,” said local attorney Bill Babin, one of the seven partners in FTGGG Racing. “We had a group of about 21 people. Turning for home and seeing him open up by … 10 lengths, nobody in their wildest dreams could have expected that.”
Added Babin, who has won five national championships as a youth baseball coach, “You feel a different satisfaction in working with kids, but it was as exciting as anything I’ve ever been to.”
The group headed down to pack the Churchill winner’s circle for a memorable photo.
“There was no social distancing, I can tell you that,” said Babin, who has watched the replay of the race at least 10 times since returning home. “The excitement of all of the crowd was unbelievable.”
All seven partners are either Catholic League graduates themselves or parents of Catholic League grads – Babin, Jubi Hillery and John O’Shea of Jesuit, Neal Comarda of De La Salle, Steve Landry and Jimmy Lee of Archbishop Rummel, and Bob Murphy, a Wisconsin native whose son Kevin graduated from Jesuit.
The stable’s acronym stands for “For the greater glory of God,” the English interpretation of the Jesuit motto “Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam.”
With Miguel Mena aboard, Masqueparade battled three-wide in the turn for home before drawing clear to win convincingly. The son of Upstart paid $9.80 to win as the second choice in the field of 10.
Masqueparade’s only win before Saturday was in March at Fair Grounds after being moved up from second because of a disqualification.
The owners collected their biggest payday yet – the winner’s share of $67,608 from the $118,050 purse.
Next up for Masqueparade could be the Grade III Matt Winn at Churchill Downs, according to the horse’s trainer and another New Orleans native, Al Stall Jr.
“His sheet numbers were heading the right way,” Stall told Daily Racing Form Monday, “but who’d have thought he’d do something like that?”
“I was with Al when we picked him out at the Keeneland sale (in September 2019),” said Babin. “Masqueparade didn’t start running until December of 2020. It’s been fun watching the progression of the horse.”
The FTGGG stable includes three horses. Besides Masqueparade, they also have Thirtyminutemass, a maiden winner from three starts, and Dot’s Dollar, an unraced 2-year-old currently in training at Churchill.
“Al’s seen this; I’m a first-time owner. I’ve learned so much about horses since we bought the horse.”
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Lenny was involved in college athletics starting in the early 1980s, when he began working Tulane University sporting events while still attending Archbishop Rummel High School. He continued that relationship as a student at Loyola University, where he graduated in 1987. For the next 11 years, Vangilder worked in the sports information offices at Southwestern Louisiana (now UL-Lafayette) and Tulane;…