In spite of shouldering top impost of 121 pounds, Z Thoroughbreds' homebred Infrattini earned his fourth straight victory, accomplished over four different tracks, by outfinishing odds-on choice Mark Valeski in the $100,000 Louisiana Handicap Jan. 19 at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots (VIDEO).
The 5-year-old son of Include came off a record-setting one mile run at Churchill Downs, where he stopped the clock in 1:33.31 while romping by 7 1/4 lengths, to take the 1 1/16-mile Louisiana Handicap. The race is first of a three-event series for older horses that culminates in the March 30 New Orleans Handicap (gr. II).
"We thought we'd give him a little time after his last race," said trainer Paul McGee. "He was fresh today so that paid off for us."
Ridden by Miguel Mena, Infrattini was allowed to settle behind Hurricane Ike, who set the pace pressed by Mark Valeski through a quarter in :24.88 and a half in :49.18, and ran three-quarters in 1:13.38 before giving way.
Infrattini challenged Mark Valeski, who was carrying 119 pounds, inside the furlong grounds. He ran a mile in 1:38.06, and proved best the rest of the way for a final time of 1:44.62.
"My boss told me to get a good break and let him run his own race," said Mena. "This horse keeps getting better and better, but for me this was his best race."
Infrattini returned $7.80, $3.40, and $2.80. Mark Valeski paid $2.60 and $2.20, and Hurricane Ike hung on, paying $4 to show a length and a half behind the runner-up. Self Control, Brethren , Macho Bull, Wash Park, and Raison d'Etat completed the order of finish.
Infrattini, bred in Kentucky out of the Mr. Greeley mare Casa Frattini, increased his career earnings to $329,952 with his sixth win from 16 lifetime starts.
"He was a good 3-year-old and a better 4-year-old and now he is even better as a 5-year-old, but I think some of that is his breeding; Include says he might be a good older horse going long," McGee said.
Mark Valeski was coming back in his first start since winning the May 12 Peter Pan Stakes (gr. II) at Belmont Park in 2012 for owner/breeder Brereton Jones.
"It was a great effort," jockey Rosie Napravnik remarked. "He's been off for a long time and that's a really nice horse that beat him. This will set him up for his next race very well. He feels great since he's come back. We never really got to test him to see just how good he was last year but we should be able to see this year how far he's able to go because he's in pretty good shape."
Larry Jones, trainer of Mark Valeski, said, "It was a great effort on the horse's part, and that other horse just broke the track record at Churchill so you know he's good. It's disappointing to us, yeah, because we wanted to win. But it was a great effort first-time out and you could tell he was really tired; when he came back it took him a long time to get back. He was needing to catch his breath."