Shadow Cast rallied to capture her third straight stakes win at Fair Grounds Race Course, winning the $125,000 Bayou Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. IIIT) on the turf Saturday.With Robby Albarado aboard, Shadow Cast completed the about 1/18-mile event on a firm Stall-Wilson turf course in 1:53.75. Bijou, ridden by Lonnie Meche, closed fast to gain the place by a neck over Sister Swank and Donnie Meche in the field of eight fillies and mares.The 4-year-old Smart Strike filly trained by Neil Howard won the Pago Hop Stakes on turf Dec. 18 and the Truly Bound Handicap over the main track three weeks ago. Of her five wins at Fair Grounds the last two seasons, four have been stakes triumphs, including two wins in graded company.Shadow Cast settled into a comfortable spot in mid-pack early, as pacesetter Ide Be a Lady opened up a clear advantage that saw her as many as five lengths clear of the field down the backside.As they rounded the far turn, Ide Be a Lady's lead began to dwindle with Sister Swank and May Gator taking first cracks at the tiring pacesetter. Sister Swank, the slight 9-5 favorite in the betting, gained momentum in mid-stretch, but her nemesis Shadow Cast found room along the inside and uncorked a furious rally, easily hitting the front inside the final sixteenth pole to win by two lengths."Today she wanted to destroy the field," said Albarado, who captured his 12th stakes win of the meet, one off his record season a year ago. "She wanted to win big. It's so good to have that dirt/grass versatility. It truly is wonderful, and with fillies, that distance tends to separate them. She surely responds well to this distance."Shadow Cast's other graded stakes win at Fair Grounds came last year when she captured the Silverbulletday Stakes (gr. II) before returning this meet to be a perfect 3-for-3 in stakes company."That may be her best race yet," said Howard, who saddled his sixth stakes winner of the meet, two off Steve Asmussen's Fair Grounds record set in 2001-02. "She had to make up a lot of ground, and she did it with authority. You couldn't ask for more. She's just as genuine as they come. Those kind are hard to come by."
Shadow Cast returned $6.80, $4.20 and $2.80 to win and boosted her career earnings to $408,485 for owner and breeder William Farish Jr.Bijou, sent off at odds of 18-1, returned $12.60 and $4.40. Sister Swank, who has now lost twice in a row to Shadow Cast since beating her in October's Valley View (gr. III), showed for $3.Cape Town, Humorous Miss, May Gator, Ide Be a Lady and My Misty Princess completed the order.(Chart, Equibase)