Maggi Moss’s Lovely Vin
, who split Louisiana-bred rivals String King and Sadie’s Soldier when runner-up in Fair Grounds’ $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Turf last month, has been installed as a lukewarm 3-1 morning line choice when he faces eight state-bred rivals in Saturday’s $60,000 Dixie Poker Ace Stakes at the Crescent City oval.
Previously, the 4-year-old altered son of Vindication had posted a neck victory over the local lawn on opening weekend of the current season in New Orleans. However, in the Champions Day Turf he led until the late stages and that race was run about a half-furlong farther over the Stall-Wilson Turf Course. He should appreciate the about one-mile distance this weekend.
Conditioned by nine-time Fair Grounds trainer champion Tom Amoss, Lovely Vin will be ridden by two-time Fair Grounds defending jockey champion Rosie Napravnik, who also enjoyed a four-win lead in the current local standings entering the New Year.
Capable of providing strong competition for Lovely Vin is Henry Benoit’s Sadie’s Soldier
, who finished third, beaten less than two lengths by Lovely Vin in the Champions Day Turf. The Brett Brinkman trainee won the Louisiana Cup Turf Classic at Louisiana Downs last summer as well as Evangeline’s John Henry Stakes last spring over other Louisiana lawns. Pegged at 7-2 in the early line, Sadie’s Soldier will have the veteran Kerwin Clark in the irons.
Not to be discounted in Saturday’s main event are Danny Keene’s Heavenville
, as well as Eddie Johnston, Scott Boudreux and Donald Gaudet’s Lee’s Spirit
, listed at 9-2 and 5-1, respectively, in the weekend’s early odds. Heavenville was runner-up to two-time Champions Day Turf winner String King in the Mr. Sulu Stakes on Thanksgiving’s opening day at Fair Grounds and Lee’s Spirit, who races equally well on grass or dirt, was most recently fourth in the $150,000 Louisiana Champions Day Classic on the main track here last month.
Completing the Dixie Poker Ace field is Sunday’s Child (8-1), Blackntanatlarrys (8-1), Productive Envoy (12-1), No Rules Now (10-1) and Benwill (12-1).