Repeat Winners Dominate on Closing Day at Fair Grounds

(from Fair Grounds report)
The five stakes winners on the second half of Louisiana Lagniappe Weekend Sunday at Fair Grounds Race Course shared a common thread: all were winners earlier in the meet.

Perhaps trainer Tom Proctor spoke for all the winners when favored Moonee Ponds scored her third straight local win in the $100,000 Bedanken Stakes.

“Maybe she just likes crawfish,” said Proctor of his 3-year-old filly, who toured the about 1 1/16-mile distance over the firm Stall-Wilson turf course in 1:43.33 and paid $3.80 to win.

Lawrence Goichman’s J’ray, winner of the Bayou Breeders’ Cup Handicap (gr. III) Feb. 24 in her last start, justified her odds-on favoritism in Sunday’s $100,000 Marie G. Krantz Memorial Handicap with a 3 1/2-length victory, returning a $2.80 win mutuel while getting the about 1 1/16-mile distance in 1:43.33.  The Krantz Memorial was Sunday’s other open company stakes race.

“She is pure class,” said winning rider Robby Albarado of the filly conditioned by defending Eclipse Award winning trainer Todd Pletcher. “She just overpowered these fillies.  I’m glad she got these victories at Fair Grounds.”

Cort’s P.B., owned by Maggi Moss and winner of the Thanksgiving Handicap on opening day, returned to the winner’s circle on closing day when he drew off for a 5 1/4-length win in a track-record performance in the $100,000 Louisiana Lagniappe Sprint.

Cort’s P.B. ($10.60) covered the 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:02.65. The track record of 1:03.09 was set earlier this month by another state-bred, Brother Bean, who finished second in the Lagniappe Sprint. Sparkling Jack was third.

“I let them go to the lead,” said winning rider E.J. Perrodin, “but when I called on him, he ate their lunch.”

Trainer Pat Mouton agreed with Perrodin about the scenario that led to Cort’s P.B.’s track record, with an additional caveat.

“The speed horses hurt each other,” said Mouton. “Today it worked for us, but you’ve got to be lucky.”

Cyril Hicks’ St. Zarb, winner by a head over favored Hallway in Sunday’s $100,000 Crescent City Derby, scored his third straight win at the meeting. The Louisiana-bred sophomore was timed in 1:45.01 for the 1 1/16-mile distance, and paid $8.

“He kept giving me more,” said winning rider James Graham, also aboard St. Zarb last time. “He’s going to be a very good Louisiana-bred.”

Larry Campagna’s Leesa Lee surprised in the $100,000 Louisiana Lagniappe Ladies Sprint, the fifth and final stakes on closing day, but she was also coming off a winning race in her last start Feb. 25.

The daughter of Leestown paid $31.80 and covered the 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:04.47.

“She hadn’t been running this short,” said jockey Corey Lanerie, “so I knew I had to be patient. Once I angled her out, she gave me all.”

(Chart, Equibase)

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