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It Happened Again Wins Claiming Crown Jewel

Fair Grounds Race Course
Photo: CDI
It Happened Again, who races in the silks of Maggi Moss, Fair Grounds’ defending owner champion, won the showcase race during Fair Grounds’ initial hosting of the 13th Claiming Crown Saturday, capturing the $150,000 Claiming Crown Jewel with a late surge under a well-judged ride by jockey Shane Sellers in the richest race run so far during the young New Orleans Thoroughbred racing season.


Conditioned by Fair Grounds’ defending trainer champion Steve Asmussen, It Happened Again provided another magic moment for the owner and trainer, who have both captured national titles in recent years.


After being allowed to settle early, It Happened Again commenced his rally when set down for the drive and caught the pacesetting Isthmus, owned by William Butler, well inside the furlong grounds on his way to a length and a quarter score.


“It was a typical Steve Asmussen ride,” said Sellers immediately after the race of his ground-saving trip. “That’s the kind he wants – stay inside and let ’em go when they want to. For a moment there I thought I waited too long, but when I asked him he gave me what I wanted.”


The victory, recorded as the second choice in the wagering due to It Happened Again’s layoff since last June, did not seem too much of a surprise to Asmussen. “He put in a fabulous work at Churchill last fall,” said Fair Grounds’ 10-time leading conditioner.


It Happened Again paid $7.40, $3 and $2.80, toured the nine furlongs in 1:51.56 and increased his career earnings to $436,578 with his eighth victory in 27 lifetime starts. 


Isthmus made the pace with early splits of 23.97 and 47.33 before finishing second, paying $2.20 and $2.10.

“He was a fighter,” said jockey Rosie Napravnik of the runner-up. “He was pretty sharp around the first turn, wanting to go on and be very eager, but he held on and ran great. He was really trying down the lane.”


Isthmus’ entrymate Al Muhtasib came in another 3 3/4-lengths behind in third. The order was completed by Harmonizer, Rein King and Tutti Buona Gente.


Compliance Officer Gets His Trip in Emerald

Winning has come easy for Compliance Officer since being claimed by owner Thomas La Marca and trainer Bruce Brown on May 14. Purchased in May at Belmont for $25,000, the 5-year-old has since won six of seven starts, including today’s $100,000 Claiming Crown Emerald at 1 1/16 miles on turf.


“I originally claimed him as a sprinter,” La Marca said. “Then we began to stretch him out.”


Compliance Officer has won at distances from six furlongs to 1 1/8 miles, all on the turf. The only loss since being claimed came in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Mile in November.


Jockey Alex Solis, on his only mount of the day, took Compliance Officer off the pace, settling into fourth in the early going.


“He is really very easy to ride,” Solis said. “He tucked in behind horses then I just had to be patient. I got him out at the three-eighths pole and he did his thing.”


Compliance Office finished 2 ¾ lengths in front and returned $3.60, $2.60 and $2.20 as the betting favorite. Jeffrey A. Columbro & Connie Apostelos’ Baryshnikov was 2 ¾ lengths back in second, paying $3.20 and $2.60, while Maggi Moss’ Quick Delivery finished another 2 ½ lengths back in third, returning $3.60.


Compliance Officer won for the 10th time in 24 starts, upping his career earnings to $464,566.


“Bruce has done a fabulous job and Alex fits him to a ‘T’,” La Marca said. “It’s been like a fantasyland.”


Brown added: “The post really hurt him in the Breeders’ Cup. When he’s tucked behind horses he relaxes. In the Breeders’ Cup he got hung wide. Today he was able to tuck in and that’s the secret.”


Rattlin Gyspy Rules in Glass Slipper

Fair Grounds’ defending jockey champion Rosie Napravnik won her second straight race Saturday, her first in a 2011 Claiming Crown event, when she captured the $75,000 Glass Slipper, a six-furlong sprint for fillies and mares while astride Howard, Pauley and Reiker’s Rattlin Gyspy for trainer John Wainwright.


“I was told to just set back and try to work her to the outside,” said Napravnik. “I put her where she likes to be and she came flying home.”


Rattlin Gyspy, a 4-year-old Kentucky-bred by Quest, paid $14.80, $6.20 and $5.20 while racing at her ninth different race track over the past year. It was her sixth career win in 24 lifetime starts and she increased her total earnings to $167,515 while getting the three-quarters of a mile in 1:11.45.


“We really don’t have any plans right now for her next start,” said owner Steve Reiker. “She’s run at nine different racetracks over the last 12 months and we’re just going to enjoy the moment.”


Rattlin Gyspy, allowed to settle, challenged for command entering the lane and drew off for a three-length tally. Stretch Run Racing Stable’s D’cats Meow finished second, paying $4.80 and $4.40, while finishing 2 3/4-lengths in front of Darren Fleming’s Right to Rule, who paid $7.20 to show.


Billy, Donna and Justin Hays’ Shesadozer, part of a three-horse entry saddled by Joe Woodard, alternated on pace with splits of 21.72 and 45.41 before tiring.


Black Gold 5 Carryover

There were no five-for-five tickets in Saturday’s Black Gold 5, setting up a $13,084 carryover going into Sunday’s card. Those that went four-for-five on Saturday got back a $59.95 consolation on their 50-cent wager.



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