Heavy On Themister, under an all-out drive from Rosie Napravnik, scored a one-length victory in the $150,000 Louisiana Champions Day Classic Dec. 8 at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots (VIDEO).
On a big day for state-breds at the New Orleans track, Heavy On Themister took home the top prize as the 124-pound co-top weight for owners/breeders T. J. Dickey and Rebecca Farm and trainer Shawn David.
Napravnik, the two-time defending meet champion at Fair Grounds, won three races on the Louisiana Champions Day card.
Heavy On Themister, sent off at odds of 5-1, was timed in 1:53 flat for the nine furlongs on a fast track. Watch My Smoke finished second, with Get in Da House another length farther back in third. Populist Politics, the 8-5 favorite in the field of 10, tired to finish last.
"He ran such a game race," said an enthusiastic Napravnik in winner's circle ceremonies following the 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."
Second while four wide on the clubhouse turn, Heavy On Themister stalked pacesetter Fate's Right Hand and made his bid from between horses on the final bend. Getting the lead approaching mid-stretch, he inched clear late to win under strong urging from Napravnik to hold off Watch My Smoke.
A 4-year-old gelding by Lion Tamer out of the Twining mare Twinwinwin, Heavy On Themister paid $12 for a $2 win bet and improved his career record to 5-5-1 in 14 starts with earnings of $282,050. Heavy On Themister won the Evangeline Downs Mile Handicap in August and was coming off a third-place effort in the Delta Downs Gold Cup Oct. 27.
"To be honest, he's a really easy horse to train," said 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."
There were also six other Thoroughbred stakes worth $100,000 on the Fair Grounds Champions Day card.
Charles Craig Smith's String King, bred and trained by his owner, defended his 2011 title in the $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Turf with a late-running one-length score over a Stall-Wilson Turf Course rated yielding (VIDEO).
"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, String King, the 7-10 favorite in the field of six, returned $3.40. 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."
Lovely Vin, with Napravnik astride, made the pace in the Turf with early splits of :24.62 and :49.68 but could not match the winner late while clearly second best, finishing 1 3/4 lengths in front of the late-charging Sadie's Soldier.
In the first Thoroughbred race of the afternoon, the $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Ladies, Charles Zacney and Edward Johnston's Ladyzarbridge, winner of the 2010 Ladies, regained her title with a front-running one-length tally (VIDEO). Ridden by Napravnik, the Eddie Johnston trainee returned $4.80 after touring 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 for 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 (VIDEO). Trained by Brett Brinkman, Sittin At the Bar returned $3.40 after stepping the six furlongs in 1:11.10 and increased her lifetime earnings to $155,000 with her second win from four starts. She Loves Runnin' was second, three lengths to the good of 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 Productive Envoy, who finished a head in front of the pacesetting odds-on favorite Amanecer de Oro, winner of last year's Sprint at odds of 31-1 (VIDEO). Su Casa G Casa, who 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 the $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Juvenile, a race which all-time 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 Napravnik up for a half-length win to give the trainer his second stakes win on Champions Day (VIDEO). 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, running the six furlongs in 1:11.62 to up his earnings to $93,710 with his second win in four starts. Lattin Devil got up late to gain the place, finishing a neck in front of Heitai.
Coteau Grove Farms' Harlie's Dreams won 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 (VIDEO). Harlie's Dreams, returning $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. Warrior Maid finished second, 2 3/4 lengths ahead of Foreign Girl.