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Suntracer Rolls Home in Woodchopper

Team Block’s Suntracer, runner-up in the Grade III Hawthorne Derby in his last start Oct. 15, made amends for that defeat with a late-running 2 3/4-length win in Friday’s Fair Grounds feature – the 25th running of the $75,000 Woodchopper Stakes for older horses at about one mile over the Stall-Wilson turf course.


The Stall-Wilson turf course underwent extensive reconditioning during the off season at Fair Grounds and appeared ideally prepared for its seasonal debut during Friday’s second day of the 2011-2012 84-day winter meeting at the historic New Orleans oval.


Ridden by last season’s Fair Grounds riding champion Rosie Napravnik, who was scoring her fourth victory of the day, Suntracer was unhurried until the stretch run, swung to the outside of the field for the drive and drew off with authority.


“Honestly, all I had to do was sit and wait (for the stretch run),” said Napravnik in the winner’s circle following the running of the Woodchopper. “He did it all for me in the stretch. I was very confident in him.”


Suntracer, trained in recent days by Fair Grounds-based conditioner Neil Pessin, paid $7.60, $3.20 and $2.60 while accomplishing the distance over the course rated “good” in 1:38.72. The son of Kitten’s Joy increased his career earnings to $237,145 while scoring his fourth victory in 13 career starts.


Peter Deutsch’s Adirondack Summer rallied late to gain the place, paying $3.60 and $2.80 while finishing a neck to the good of Dwight Sprague’s Cactus Son, who lacked the needed late response and returned $6.80 to show. David Schwartz’ J Isle made the pace with splits of 24.55 and 49.18 but had no late rally and finished fourth.


Racing resumes Saturday at Fair Grounds with a 10-race program beginning at 12:40 p.m. and featuring the 25th renewal of the Pago Hop Stakes for sophomore fillies over the Stall-Wilson turf course.



There was one perfect ticket in the new Black Gold 5, resulting in a return of $8,152 on the 50-cent wager for a sharp handicapper playing at Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie, Texas. The Black Gold 5 starts in Race 5 every day. Today’s winners, in order (with their $2 win prices), were Cave Creeker ($20), Table Three Ten ($11), Letem Run ($5), Ricks F Sixteen ($45.40) and Suntracer ($7.60).



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