April 22, 2024

Fair Grounds Notebook 12/15

Last updated: 12/14/04 4:08 PM



by Brian P. Turner

Saturday’s Louisiana Champions Day highlighted the week’s racing action at
Fair Grounds as a total of 10 stakes races were offered for Bayou-bred
Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses. The featured event came in the form of the
$150,000 Louisiana Champions Day Classic S. for three-year-olds and upward going
nine furlongs on the main track.

A field of seven went to the gate headed by Spritely Walker (Skywalker), who
was sent off as the heavy favorite despite the fact that he was making his first
start since early March. In the end though, the day belonged to WITT ANTE
(Upping the Ante) who took the lead out of the gate and never looked back,
crossing the finish line 2 ½ lengths in front. Screen Idol (Zarbyev) rallied for
the place, 1 ¾ lengths in front of Spritely Walker in third.

In the day’s other action, a field of 11 contested the 1 1/16-mile Louisiana
Champions Day Turf S. for a purse of $100,000. Horse to Watch MR. SULU (Rail)
was sent off as the 4-5 favorite and rewarded his backers by rallying from more
than seven lengths off the pace, closing with a tremendous turn of foot, to
cross the wire 3 ½ lengths in front. Little Happy (Nelson) put in a solid effort
while picking up the place, a head in front of Spruce’s Prince (Spruce Bouquet)
in third.

A mere field of six contested the $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Ladies S.
for fillies and mares, three-years-old and up, going 1 1/16 miles on the main
track. Undefeated HAPPY TICKET (Anet) kept her winning streak alive by stalking
the pace early before opening up in the stretch to hit the finish line four
lengths in front. Destiny Calls (With Approval) picked up the place, a nose in
front of Legs O’Neal (Nelson).

Long shot ARCHEVAL (Bayou Hebert) pulled off the biggest shocker of the day
by stalking the pace early before taking over in the turn and holding on late to
take the Louisiana Champions Day Sprint S. by three parts of a length, paying a
whopping $67.20 for the effort. Lac Laronge (Nelson) was second, three lengths
clear of third placer Sidebuster B (Gold Fever).

A field of 10, including one coupled entry, squared off in the 1 1/16 mile
Louisiana Champions Day Juvenile S. for two-year-olds. Heavily favored CRIMSON
STAG (Glitterman) stalked the pace early before taking command in the stretch to
hit the wire 3 ½ lengths in front. Robbeau (Valid Expectations) was second, 1 ¾
lengths clear of St. Roch (Leestown) in third.

In the female counter part, the Louisiana Champions Day Lassie S., EQUESTRIAN
GIRLS (Leestown) rallied from just off the pace to pick up the win by 2 ¾
lengths. Indigo Girl (Leestown) took second, 1 ¾ lengths in front of Sweet
Macaroni (Malagra) in third.

As for the Quarter Horses, VALS FORTUNE (Dashing Val) captured the Louisiana
Champions Day QH Derby, SLINKY BINKY (Dashs Slinky) took the victory in the
Louisiana Champions Day QH Juvenile S. and VILLAGE TEE MAN (Village Hero)
claimed the Louisiana Champions Day QH Classic S. by a neck.

The only other stakes offering of the week was contested on Friday as a field
of 10, including two coupled entries, contested the Kudzu Juvenile S. for
Alabama-bred two-year-olds. POPS RETURN (Red Hammer) took the early lead and
held on late to cross the wire three parts of a length in front. Deb Pixum (Jeblar)
followed in second, 1 ½ lengths in front of French Coach (Valid Victorious) in

Horses on or near the pace held the advantage in sprint races on the main
track this week, but the routes tended to play pretty fair. As for the turf,
Thursday’s races were moved to the main track, and those run on their intended
surface favored horses coming from off the pace in routes. From three turf
sprints, horses near the pace won twice.

Robby Albarado reached a tremendous milestone on Thursday as he guided ISLE
OF SILVER (Autocracy) to a neck win for his 3,000th career victory. It seems
only appropriate that Albarado would accomplish this feat in the Big Easy as he
is a Louisiana native and perennial riding champion at Fair Grounds. He appears
well on his way to notching up another title this meet as well as his 22 winners
leaves him eight ahead of Corey Lanerie in second. Lonnie Meche is currently in
third, having booted home 12 winners for the meet.

Steve Asmussen and Tom Amoss are currently deadlocked atop the trainer
standings with six winners each. C.W. Bubba Cascio is hot on their tail though,
having saddled five winners thus far.


Thursday (12/09)

2ND – APPOINT VICTORY (Louis Quatorze) was seven-wide in the first turn of
this maiden special event, then wide down the backstretch before taking the
final turn four wide. The two-year-old colt still managed to rally for the lead
before being overtaken in the stretch. A less scenic route next out could yield
better results.

Friday (12/10)

6TH – PARKER RUN (Glitterman) found the climate in New Orleans to be much
more to his liking after coming up on the short end of the stick against some
pretty tough competition at Saratoga in the summer and Keeneland in the fall.
The three-year-old colt easily disposed of this allowance field of grass runners
and should be a threat in his next start, provided it comes on the lawn.

8TH – ANGLIANA DANCER (Lasting Approval) was really making up ground at the
end of this 5 ½ furlong turf claiming event, but the wire came a couple of jumps
too soon. The four-year-old filly definitely looms a threat in her next start,
provided it comes against similar.

10TH – SWEET HIT (Direct Hit) broke last from the gate and found herself
trailing the field early. The chestnut filly quickly wrestled away the lead
though and never looked back, crossing the wire 1 1/4 lengths in front.

RASPBERRY WINE (Change Takes Time) put in a solid performance in her first
career start. After appearing to be not quite sure of what she was doing early,
the two-year-old filly closed with a nice turn of foot through the stretch to
pick up the place.

Saturday (12/11)

5TH – Crimson Stag had been running well against some very tough company at
Saratoga in the summer and Keeneland in the fall, so it wasn’t really surprising
to seem him dispose of the field in the Juvenile. The bay colt is extremely
talented and appears to have a solid future in front of him.

6TH – ZARB’S DAHAR (Zarbyev) entered the Sprint on a bit of a roll, having
reeled off six victories in a row. The four-year-old gelding had more than his
share of trouble in this event though as he was caught in tight early then had
no room whatsoever to make a move in the turn, forcing him to eventually settle
for fourth. Look for the bay to return to his winning ways in his next start.

8TH – Mr. Sulu easily disposed of the field in the Turf S. and will be a
threat wherever he shows up next.

9TH – Spritely Walker may have needed one after the long vacation and could
prove tough to handle when he makes his next start.

Sunday (12/12)

4TH – RUN TO THE BORDER (El Prado [Ire]) got bumped at the beginning of this
allowance claiming affair but overcame the trouble, closing from last in the
stretch drive to cross the wire 1 ¼ lengths in front.

5TH – SLAMMO (Grand Slam) put in a nice effort in his first career start by
closing from well back in the pack to miss by only three parts of a length in
this maiden special event.

7TH – CAPE HOPE (Cape Town) made his first an attempt on the turf an
impressive one by closing from off the pace and taking over in the stretch drive
to annihilate this field of maidens by six widening lengths.