Stormy West splashes to victory in the Blushing K.D. Handicap.

Stormy West splashes to victory in the Blushing K.D. Handicap.

Lou Hodges, Jr.

Stormy West Wins as Fair Grounds Opens

Daughter of Gone West takes inaugural running of Blushing K.D. Handicap.

After challenging for command entering the lane, Stormy West withstood late challenges from Final Refrain and Barbette to capture the inaugural running of the $60,000 Blushing K.D. Handicap, the co-feature on a wet opening day to Fair Grounds’ 137th season Nov. 14.

The filly and mare test was originally scheduled for the Stall-Wilson turf course but was switched to the main track. 

Stormy West, a 4-year-old daughter of Gone West, won by 1 1/4 lengths. Final Refrain finished second, three-quarters of a length to the good of Barbette. Final Refrain paid $4.40 and $3, while Barbette returned $4.80

“I just got her to relax,” said winning rider Patrick Valenzuela of Stormy West, who is conditioned by Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott. “She took the lead earlier than I wanted but then she had the will to prevail.”

The winner, owned by Diana and Guy Snowden, rallied from sixth after a half-mile and won under steady handling. She paid $7.80, $4, and $2.60 and got the 1 1/16-mile distance in 1:45.91 over the sloppy main track after early fractions of :23.13, :46.69 and 1:12.81.

Stormy West increased her career earnings to $292,653 with her fourth victory in 11 starts.

In the second feature, the $60,000 Si Cima Stakes for Louisiana-breds at 1 1/16 miles, Valene Farms’ Sammie Sam took command at the top of the stretch and drew off late for an impressive seven-length tally.

Sammie Sam returned $11.20, $5.60, and $3 under jockey Francisco Torres. The gray mare by Autocracy, trained by Sturges Ducoing, increased her career earnings to $318,602 with her seventh victory from 28 starts.

“I got her to rate early, kept her out of trouble, and let her do her thing,” said Torres of Sammie Sam, who accomplished the 1 1/16-miles in 1.45.18 after early splits of :23.85 and :47.97.

Go Atm finished second, 3 1/2 lengths ahead of favored Collectzcat.

Saints owner Tom Benson, who campaigned Si Cima to multiple stakes victories at Fair Grounds in the late 1970s, was on hand with his family to make the trophy presentation. The owners of Blushing K.D., James and Sue Burns, also were trophy presenters on Friday.

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