Millennium Farms and Mike McCarty’s long shot Expansion
ruled in the Grade III Fair Grounds Handicap with an exclamation – a win
price of $66.40 for a $2 wager!
The Fair Grounds Handicap, contested over the Stall-Wilson
turf course at about nine furlongs, is the designed prep race for the
upcoming Grade II Mervin Muniz Memorial Handicap to be run five weeks
from now on Louisiana Derby Day March 26.
Always well placed, Expansion, a 6-year-old son of Maria’s
Mon, challenged the front-running Dubious Miss, owned by David Holloway,
at the eighth pole and wore down that one as well as George and Lori Hall’s
late-running Sleepless Knight in the last strides to tally by a head.
In addition to the $66.40 straight price, Expansion
returned $18.40 and $9.40. Sleepless Knight gained the place in the last jump
to pay $5.40 and $4 with Dubious Miss returning $4.80 for the third position.
“I had a really, really good trip, and I rode a really,
really good horse,” said Expansion’s winning rider Gerard Melancon.
“Steve (winning trainer Steve Asmussen) told me speed was holding in California
(where Expansion had raced previously) and that’s why he brought him
here. Fortunately, I was able to hold this horse together at the end.”
Expansion toured the distance in 1:42.98, increased his
career earnings to $466,110 and scored his fifth win from 26 lifetime starts.
Estrorace’s Workin for Hops set the early fractions of 26.70 and 53.55
but weakened to fourth at the wire.
DUE DATE DOES COLONEL POWER STAKES
stakes sextet began in the fourth race when Richard, Bertram and Elaine Klein’s
heavily-favored Due Date got up in the last strides to win the $60,000 Colonel
Power Stakes by a head.
The Steve Margolis trainee, ridden by Tony Farina,
paid $3.40, $2.60 and $2.20, increased his career earnings to $276,788 with his
eighth win in 30 lifetime starts and toured the about 5 ½–furlong distance over
the Stall Wilson turf course in 1:04.74.
Chester Miller and Patrick Dupuy’s Strike Impact got
the lead between calls in the late stages, could not withstand the winner but
gamely held the place, finishing three-quarters of a length to the good of
Oliver Pierce’s Sweetsouthernmoon. Strike Impact paid $9.60 and $5.80
and Sweetsouthernmoon returned $5.80 to show, with Richard Rudolph and Michael
Vranich’s Royal Express setting early fractions of 22.51 and 46.42
BEAUTICIAN BEST IN PAN ZARETA STAKES
Peter Callahan’s Beautician, unhurried early,
commenced a rally in upper stretch in the $60,000 Pan Zareta Stakes for
fillies and mares at six furlongs and wore down Robson Thoroughbreds’ Smoky
Belle by one length at the wire.
Ridden by Julien Leparoux and trained by Ken
McPeek, Beautician toured the six furlongs in 1:09.76, increased her career
earnings to $633,175 with her third win in 16 lifetime starts and paid $6.60,
$4.40 and $2.80.
Smoky Belle established early splits of 21.50 and 44.76
while making the pace and easily held the runner-up spot, returning $8.80 and
$5.60 while finishing 2 3/4-lengths in front of Winchell Thoroughbreds’ Simplify,
who paid $3.60.