High Limit, with Ramon Dominguez aboard, wins the Louisiana Derby.

High Limit, with Ramon Dominguez aboard, wins the Louisiana Derby.

Alexander Barkoff

High Limit Raises Bar in Louisiana Derby

High Limit became the first gate to wire winner of the $600,000 Louisiana Derby (gr. II) in 15 years when he rolled to an easy victory in his initial start for trainer Bobby Frankel Saturday at Fair Grounds.

Ridden by Ramon Dominguez in his stakes debut, High Limit stayed undefeated in three starts and has yet to be headed.

Sent off as the 5-2 favorite in his first start in four months, the Kentucky-bred son of Maria's Mon set a stakes record by winning the 1 1/16-mile event for 3-year-olds in 1:42.74.

Frankel said the Blue Grass (gr. I) April 16 at Keeneland or the Wood Memorial (gr. I) at Aqueduct April 9 would be next on High Limit's schedule.

"The first time you run a horse, you never know how they are going to run," said Frankel, who won the Louisiana Derby for the second time in three years after scoring with Peace Rules in 2003. "He seems to run for everybody. He's a good horse. Hopefully this race didn't take too much out of him."

High Limit, who set an easy pace (:23 2/5, :47 1/5, 1:11 4/5) while maintaining a comfortable lead to the far turn, defeated Vicarage by four lengths with Storm Surge finishing third, 7 3/4 lengths behind the winner. High Limit switched leads successfully with a furlong to go and he pulled away impressively in spite of jumping tire tracks a half-furlong from home.

"This horse can run," said Dominguez, "but what impressed me is he knows how to relax. He's very easy on himself. He just does what he has to do."

The sprinter Vicarage, ridden by John Velazquez, and local hope Storm Surge, with Jerry Bailey aboard, chased the winner in second and third, respectively, for almost the entire journey.

"He was a little headstrong early, but he settled in nice down the backside," said Velazquez. "He ran a good race. I'm happy with the way he ran. It was his first race around two turns, and he showed he can hang with the distance."

Kansas City Boy faded after stalking the leaders in fourth on the outside for the first six furlongs. Late runners Scipion, the second choice in the field of nine, and Sort It Out, were never involved.

Dominguez has been with High Limit throughout his brief career, which began last fall with back-to-back romps at Delaware Park for the barn of Anthony Dutrow.

High Limit earned $360,000, pushing his career bankroll to $402,000.

Gary and Mary West own the bay colt, a $145,000 purchase at Keeneland's sale of September 2003. Brookfield Farm bred High Limit, who was produced by Known Romance (Known Fact).

He paid $7.20, $6.20 and $4.40, combining with Vicarage ($16.80, $9.80) for a $149.40 exacta. Storm Surge, who won the Lecomte (gr. III) January 15 and ran third behind the winning Scipion in the Risen Star (gr. III) a month ago, paid $4.80 to show.

Wallstreet Scandal finished fourth, followed by Real Dandy, Scipion, Kansas City Boy, Sort It Out and Indy Storm.

(Chart, Equibase)