Photo: Jim McCue/MJC
Two-time Fair Grounds defending jockey champion Rosie Napravnik
was also crowned “Queen for a Louisiana Champions Day” Saturday following the 22nd running of the $150,000 Louisiana Champions Day Classic. That was when her one-length victory aboard Rebecca Farms and T. J. Dickey’s Heavy On Themister in that showcased race gave her a riding stakes triple during the Crescent City oval’s banner afternoon of 11 stakes races restricted to accredited Louisiana-breds.
After prompting the pace during the early going, Heavy On Themister gained the advantage along the inside in upper stretch and then withstood the determined late bid of Agave Racing Stable’s Watch My Smoke throughout the final furlong.
“He ran such a game race,” said an enthusiastic Napravnik in winner’s circle ceremonies following the local Classic. “He is a really neat horse and watching some of his past races he just puts out every time and it was a really game effort.”
For his Classic victory, Heavy On Themister paid mutuels of $12, $6.40 and $4, accomplished the nine-furlong distance in 1:53 flat and increased his career earnings to $282,050 with his hard-earned fifth win from 14 lifetime starts.
“To be honest, he’s a really easy horse to train,” said conditioner Shawn David when asked how he got Heavy On Themister ready for the biggest win of his career. “When you get a horse like that he just loves his job and you just put the tack on. We are just thrilled to have him.”
Watch My Smoke paid $6.20 and $4 and Robert Orth and Wes Hawley’s Get in Da House returned $3 when finishing third a length farther back.STRING KING DEFENDS TITLE IN $100,000 LOUISIANA CHAMPIONS DAY TURF
In Saturday’s main supporting feature, Charles Craig Smith’s String King, bred and trained by his owner, defended his 2011 title in the 22nd running of the $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Turf with a late-running one-length score over a Stall-Wilson Turf Course rated “soft.”
“Turning for home I was thinking I wasn’t going to get there,” said winning rider James Graham, also aboard for last year’s victory. “My horse was having a little trouble moving with the ground. I’d rather have been closer early on.”
Accomplishing the about 1 1/16-mile distance in 1.45.92, the Charlie Smith trainee returned mutuels of $3.40, $2.60 and $2.10 as the odds-on choice of the fans even though the victory was in doubt until the last strides. String King increased his career earnings to $324,052 with his eighth win in 19 lifetime trips to the post.
“It’s all the horse with him,” said Smith in the winner’s circle after his homebred’s latest tally. “I’m just along for the ride.”
Maggi Moss’s Lovely Vin, with Rosie Napravnik astride, made the pace in the Turf with early splits of 24.62 and 49.68, could not match the winner late but was clearly second best, finishing 1 3/4-lengths in front of the late-charging Sadie’s Soldier, owned by Henry Benoit.OTHER LOUISIANA CHAMPIONS DAY STAKES RESULTS
In the first Thoroughbred race of the afternoon – the $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Ladies for accredited Louisiana-bred older fillies and mares – Charles Zacney and Edward Johnston’s Ladyzarbridge, winner of the 2010 Ladies, regained her title with a front-running one-length tally in Saturday’s 2012 edition. Ridden by Rosie Napravnik, the Eddie Johnston trainee returned a $4.80 straight price, toured the distance in 1:45.94 and increased her career earnings to $355,184 with her seventh win in 21 lifetime starts.
In the $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Lassie, restricted to Louisiana-bred 2-year-old fillies, Dale Ladner’s Sittin At the Bar, with Mark Guidry up, rallied outside the leaders in the stretch run and drew off for a popular eight-length score. Trained by Brett Brinkman, Sittin At the Bar returned $3.40 straight, toured the six furlongs in 1:11.10 and increased her lifetime earnings to $155,000 with her second win from four starts. Oak Leaf’s She Loves Runnin was no match for the winner but clearly second best in the Lassie, coming home as the runner-up three lengths to the good of JRita Young Thoroughbreds’ Taralicious.
Thomas Galvin’s Su Casa G Casa, conditioned by Bret Calhoun and piloted by Miguel Mena, stopped Saturday’s stakes streak of odds-on favorites with a two-length tally in the $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Sprint over Oak Leaf’s Productive Envoy, who finished a head in front of the pacesetting odds-on favorite Amanecer de Oro, owned by Northpointe Thoroughbreds and winner of last year’s Sprint at odds of 31-1. Su Casa G Casa paid $9.80 to win, accomplished the six furlongs in 1:11.14 and increased his earnings to $399,973 with his sixth win from 13 lifetime starts.
In Saturday’s $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Juvenile, a race which top Louisiana-bred money earner Star Guitar won in 2007 to kick off his unprecedented career, trainer Bret Calhoun saddled Robbie Norman’s Hero Force with Rosie Napravnik up for a half-length win to give the trainer and the jockey their second stakes wins on Champions Day. Hero Force made the pace, lost the advantage briefly in the stretch run but regained command along the inside with good courage in the late stages. The Political Force colt paid $8.60 to win, toured the six furlongs in 1:11.62 and upped his earnings to $93,710 with his second win in four starts. Terrell Jarrett Jr. ‘s Lattin Devil got up late to gain the place, finishing a neck in front of Rowell Enterprises’ Heitai.
Coteau Grove Farms’ Harlie’s Dreams won Saturday’s seventh running of the $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Ladies Sprint at six furlongs one year after capturing the 2011 Louisiana Champions Day Ladies Stakes at 1 1/16-miles. Trained by Pat Devereux Jr. and ridden by Diego Saenz, the 5-year-old mare tallied by a half-length with a late rally along the inside in the final furlong. Harlie’s Dreams returned $9.20 for the win, got the distance in 1:11.26 and increased her career earnings to $348,488 with her sixth win from 24 lifetimes starts. Russell Welch’s Warrior Maid finished second, 2 3/4-lengths to the good of Iron Oak Stable’s Foreign Girl.
Winning honors in the $50,000 Louisiana Champions Day Handicap Stakes went to Merrill Scherer and Dan Lynch’s pacesetting Silent Pipe. Trained by Merrill Scherer, the 5 3/4-length winner was ridden by Brian Hernandez Jr., who is most lately celebrated for his victorious ride the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Classic on Nov. 2. Silent Pipe toured the mile and 70 yards in 1:43.46, returned a $7.80 straight price and increased his earnings to $362, 376 with his 10th win from 49 lifetime starts. Knights Prairie Racing’s Well’s Gold finished a length and a half in front of Edward Johnston Racing Stables’ Clever Thirteen.
Fair Grounds’ Louisiana Champions Day began with three graded stakes for Louisiana-bred American Quarter Horses, with Rocky Mountain Fly ($9.80) winning the Grade III Quarter Horse Derby as the opener and Perrys Runway ($6.20) taking the Grade II Quarter Horse Juvenile in the second half of the Daily Double before Martini Mountain upset the Grade II Quarter Horse Classic with a whopping $97.20 win price.