Records were matched, streaks continued, and favorites ruled the 15th annual Louisiana Champions Day Saturday at the Fair Grounds meet at Harrah's Louisiana Downs.
The day was dominated by favorites, including three odds-on winners, four second choices, and a comparative outsider in Badtotheboneandrew, who won the $150,000 Classic at 4-1.
Badtotheboneandrew ($10.60), who gave trainer Harry Hahn III his record-tying third Champions Day Classic winner, was just off the pace of 2004 Classic winner Witt Ante before taking over in the stretch for a 1 3/4-length win in 1:53.69 for 1 1/8 miles.
"I loved him today," said Gerard Melancon, who won his first Classic. "I thought about the race all morning. He's better on the dirt, and I knew the extra sixteenth (of a mile) would benefit him."
Nitro Chip, who was the slight favorite over Witt Ante, was second, while Sanctuary's Omooni finished third and Witt Ante fourth in the field of seven.
In the Turf, Mr. Sulu overtook even-money favorite Spruce's Prince in the stretch to join Dixie Poker Ace as the only Thoroughbreds to win three times on Champions Day.
With six-time Fair Grounds leading rider Robby Albarado aboard for trainer Josie Carroll, Mr. Sulu ($4.80) settled about two lengths off the pace in a tightly-packed field of six. Spruce's Prince went to the lead in the stretch, but Mr. Sulu rallied to capture a half-length win.
A.L. "Red" McMurray is the winning owner and breeder. Running time for about 1 1/16 miles on the turf was 1:44.83.
In the Sprint, Zarb's Dahar ($2.40) won for the 11th consecutive time over the Lousiana Downs surface, completing the six furlongs in 1:10.90. Zarb's Luck tried to match Mr. Sulu's feat with his third Champions Day win, but just missed in a photo.
"We were committed on the rail and I found it to be a little heavy today," said Melancon. "You win by three inches or a length; it's the same thing on the paycheck."
Trainer Patrick Mouton and jockey E.J. Perrodin had only found the winner's circle once each in the first 14 Champions Days, but made two visits in the span of 30 minutes, thanks to Nob Hill Deelite and The Beter Man Can.
In the Juvenile, Nob Hill Deelite ($6.20) rallied in deep stretch to overtake longshot Hud's Playmate by a neck. Nob Hill Deelite completed the six furlongs in 1:13.19.
Just a half-hour later, The Beter Man Can ($3.60) turned in the most dominating performance of the day, rolling to a 5 3/4-length win in the Ladies.
"She was fighting me all the way around," said Perrodin. "At the half-mile pole, I just decided to let her be happy and do what she wants."
The Beter Man Can won for the seventh time in 11 lifetime starts, moving her past the $320,000 mark in lifetime earnings. She ran the 1 1/16 miles in 1:46.13.
In the Lassie, odds-on favorite Tortuga Flats ($3.20) took control from the outset and cruised to a 5 3/4-length win. Ridden by Luis Quinonez for trainer Ralph Irwin, Tortuga Flats won for the fourth time in five starts, improving her career earnings to more than $156,000.
Tortuga Flats ran the six furlongs in 1:13.21. Longshot Grand Facile was second, and Leesa Lee was third.