Richard Rudolph’s Royal Express gave trainer Spanky Broussard an early birthday present Saturday when he made the pace throughout in the $56,400 Black Gold Stakes for 3-year-olds at five and a half furlongs and won by three and a half lengths. The sprint, scheduled for the Stall-Wilson turf course, was taken off the grass after a deluge of rain two days ago in southeastern Louisiana.
Broussard, born and raised in New Orleans, will turn 69-years-old Sunday after a distinguished training career that began in the 1960s and includes a previous Black Gold Stakes win in 1977 with Tudor Tambourine. “That was when this race was for older horses,” Broussard was quick to point out.
Coincidentally, Tudor Tambourine – like the legendary Black Gold who became the first horse to win both the Louisiana Derby and the Kentucky Derby – is buried in the Fair Grounds infield.
Royal Express, ridden by leading rider James Graham, returned mutuels of $6.20 and $3.40 in the field reduced to four horses after Peter Redekop’s Comedero was scratched at the starting gate. The winning sophomore, by Royal Academy, is out of the mare Deposit Express, who was also trained by Broussard. Royal Express accomplished the distance in 1:48.53 after setting early fractions of 22:89 and 46.56 and increased his career earnings to $111,391 with his third victory in seven lifetime starts.
“When I saw 22:89 up there early, I knew this horse could win it,” Broussard said. “I always thought this colt could run. Now I’d like to try him going two turns – but not in the Risen Star – he’s not ready for that kind of race yet. But maybe the Saints can win for me tomorrow on my birthday.”
Vito Filitto finished second in the Black Gold, paying $4, followed by Saluting Stormye.
Racing resumes Sunday at Fair Grounds with a special early post time of 11:30 a.m. to allow fans plenty of time to get home to watch the New Orleans Saints try to win their first Super Bowl in their first attempt.