Costa Rising had to be determined in holding on for a head victory in last year’s $150,000 Louisiana Champions Day Classic.

The 4-year-old Royal Strand colt had a significantly easier time of it Dec.8 at Fair Grounds, romping to an eye-opening 15 ¼-length score under Robby Albarado for his second consecutive La. Classic win. Costa Rising stopped the clock in 1:50.76 in the 1 1/8-mile test on the main track, setting the race record in the 17th running of the event.

Hallway was two lengths in front of Lash for second. Grand Minit and Southern Invasion completed the order of finish in the five-horse field, which included a pair of scratches.

Going off as the 2-5 favorite, Costa Rising paid $2.80, $2.10 and $2. The exacta (1-3) was worth $9.20.

Albarado collected his second Classic victory, as he also scored with Magnify in 1998.

Owned by Charles Castille, Jr., and trained by Glenn Delahoussaye, Costa Rising won for the fifth time in seven starts this year. It was the third effort in which he won by double-digit lengths. On Aug. 11 in the Evangeline Mile Handicap, Costa Rising cruised to a 12 ¼-length win while setting the course record in 1:36.51.

Less than a month later Costa Rising dismantled the field in a one-mile Evangeline allowance event, winning by 17 ½ lengths. He came into the Classic off of a 2 ½ length triumph in the Nov. 17 Gold Cup Stakes at Delta Downs.

As he usually does, Costa Rising shot right to lead in the Classic, posting easy opening fractions of :24.76, :48.97 and 1:13.49. Southern Invasion stayed within striking distance through the first six furlongs, only a length-and-half back. But as they rounded the final turn Costa Rising began to pull away. He led by six at the top of the stretch.

The final furlong was a thing of beauty, as Costa Rising, out of List mare Gal’s List, pulled away with every stride despite carrying 124 pounds.

With 14 wins in 22 lifetime starts, Costa Rising has now earned more than $860,000. He was bred by Double Dam Farm.

(Chart, Equibase)

In the $100,000 Louisiana Day Turf, 4-year-old Dance Brightly gelding Willist stalked the pace, took over at the top of the stretch and inched away to take the 1 1/16-mile event by 1 ¾ lengths under Albarado. It was Alabarado’s fourth career victory in the event.

Willist captured his second stakes of the year for owners Rick Foudriat, A.J. Hand and Ricky Caball. Bred by Heiligbrodt Racing Stable, he paid $12.60 to win.

Louisiana Champions Day featured eight Thoroughbred stakes worth a total of $800,000 Others winners were: Ahead of Her Time (Ladies); Superior Storm (Lassies); Z Storm (Starter Handicap); Star Guitar (Juvenile); Carl’s Frosty Girl (Ladies Sprint); and Fass Feat (Sprint).

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