Overbrook Farm's homebred 3-year-old Storm Surge registered his first graded stakes victory when he captured the $100,000 Lecomte Stakes (gr. III) at Fair Grounds going a mile Saturday.
Jockey Robby Albarado picked up his fourth win on the Fair Grounds program aboard the even-money favorite, a dark bay colt by Storm Cat
-Especially (Mr. Prospector)). Storm Sturge tracked the moderate pace on the outside and took the lead in mid-stretch to edge Smooth Bid by a neck. Kansas City Boy finished in third, just a head behind Smooth Bid. Silver Haze was fourth in the field of five.
"It was a great trip," said Albarado, whose four wins included a pair of stakes victories. "Being on the outside, I was pleased with it because I was able to dictate where I wanted to be. He relaxed kindly for me on the backside. He's so patient for being lightly raced."
The final time was 1:39 1/5 on a fast track. A stewards' inquiry into a couple of bumps in the stretch involving the winner and runner-up did not result in a change of order.
Trained by Dallas Stewart, Storm Surge wrapped up a strong 2-year-old campaign by winning the Sugar Bowl at Fair Grounds in his last start. He was second to Lunarpal by a neck in the Bashford Manor (gr. III) at Churchill Downs in July.
"It's a great colt and we're just overjoyed," Stewart said.
In his only previous route race, Storm Surge finished sixth as the favorite in the Kentucky Jockey Club (gr. II) at Churchill Nov. 27. He has now won five of eight starts with earnings of $252,770.
Storm Surge was never far off the pace while racing four wide through most of the trip. Approaching the turn for home, he loomed up on the outside of pacesetter Major League, who led Kansas City Boy and Smooth Bid through slow fractions of :24 3/5, :49 3/5 and 1:14 2/5. Storm Surge took the lead a furlong from home and gutted out the victory under steady pressure.
Storm Surge paid $4, $2.60 and $2.10 for his first victory around two turns. Smooth Bid, ridden by Donnie Meche substituting for Jerry Bailey (who could not make the trip due to flight delays) returned $3.20 and $2.10. Kansas City Boy's show was $2.10 for jockey Carlos Marquez Jr..
Biloxi Place, the second choice in the morning line, was scratched after developing a fever.