This Classic, played out under rainy skies and in sloppy going, annually serves as the main event on the New Orleans oval’s traditional annual series dedicated to horses bred in Louisiana, but this edition proved one of the most exciting renewals in its history.
Sunbean, ridden by Richard Eramia and trained by Ron Faucheux, traded head bobs with String King in the late stages of the stretch run before narrowly prevailing at the wire in a finish too close to call by the naked eye. One of only two sophomores in the race facing older rivals, Sunbean paid $4.60, $3, and $2.60, touring the sloppy nine furlongs in 1:53.39.He increased his career earnings to $378,900 with his sixth career win in 11 lifetime starts.
“We were together down the stretch,” said Eramia. “I had a perfect trip. Everyone was going to be close no matter how you spin the race but we got it.”
Earlier, Glen Warren’s odds-on choice Hud's Rebellion, trained by Andy Leggio Jr. and ridden by Rosie Napravnik, outfought Sadie's Soldier in the final sixteenth of a mile to win by 1 1/2 lengths in the $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Turf over a Stall-Wilson turf course rated good (VIDEO).
In the first Thoroughbred race of the afternoon–the $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Lassie restricted to Louisiana-bred 2-year-old fillies–Circle H Farms’ Lexi's Love, trained by Alan Klanfer and ridden brilliantly by Diego Saenz, got up in the last strides to best Roy odds-on favorite All Woman by a head while increasing her earnings to $100,650 with her third win in five starts. She accomplished the six furlongs in 1:13.69 (VIDEO).
In the $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Ladies, Charles Zacney and E. J. Johnston’s Ladyzarbridge defended her championship from last season and won it for the third time in the last four years (VIDEO). Taking command at the break, Ladyzarbridge made the pace for Napravnik and held off the late challenge of Tensas Harbor by a neck, returning $12.20, $8 and $5. Conditioned by co-owner Eddie Johnston, Ladyzarbridge accomplished the 1 1/16 miles over the good track in 1:46.73 and increased her career earnings to $431,114 with her eighth win in 28 lifetime starts. Valene Farms’ Ante Up Annie got the third spot, finishing five lengths behind Tensas Harbor.
In the $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Ladies Sprint, Ronny Werner and partners’ Guadalupe High challenged outside when set down for the drive by Gerard Melancon and held off Coteau Grove Farms’ Afternoon Tango (VIDEO). The winner, trained by Werner, paid $11.20 while running six furlongs over the good track in 1:12.24 and increased her career earnings to $325,348 with her seventh win in 13 career starts. Mischievous Mama finished third, two lengths behind Afternoon Tango.
The $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Juvenile went toIde Be Cool, owned and trained by Henry Ray Dunn, who kept his four-race undefeated streak alive with a front-running seven-length score under jockey Chris Rosier (VIDEO). Ide Be Cool increasing his career earnings to $189,600 while completing the six furlongs in 1:11.10 after early splits of 22.09 and 46.70. He paid $7.20. Coteau Rouge finished second in the Juvenile, 1 1/4 lengths in front of Dixie Beat.
In the $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Sprint, Rowell Enterprises’ Heitai, relishing the sloppy going, took command at the break, made the pace in early fractions of 22.00 and 45.45, and galloped home seven lengths to the good of favored Southern Dude in a final time of 1:11.64 (VIDEO). Overlooked in the wagering with Saenz aboard for trainer Karl Broberg, Heitai paid $32.60. He increased his career earnings to $238,943 with his fourth win in 14 starts.