Warleigh Romps in Fair Grounds' Mardi Gras

(from Fair Grounds report)
Stakes veteran Warleigh made short work of nine rivals in the $50,000 Mardi Gras Handicap, the traditional Fat Tuesday feature on the turf at Fair Grounds Race Course.

The classy chestnut son of Lord At War finished about 7 1/2 furlongs in 1:31.86 despite a wide journey over the Stall-Wilson course, which was rated firm.

Ridden by Donnie Meche, the speedy 7-year-old broke well from his No. 6 post position, and as expected, engaged pacesetters Excessive Behavior and Shiloh Bound early, settling three-wide in a close stalking position as the field entered the backstretch.

Shiloh Bound, the 2-1 favorite, shook off Excessive Behavior approaching the far turn after a half-mile in 48.59, but couldn't hold the lead for long. Warleigh surged to the front at the top of the stretch and drew away from Shiloh Bound through the lane to win by a decisive 2 3/4 lengths. Shiloh Bound held the place spot, 2 1/4 lengths in front of longshot Social King in the field of 10 older horses.

Steve Asmussen trains Warleigh.

The win was Warleigh's first at Fair Grounds after two previous tries a year ago in stakes company. His best finish was a second in the Col. E.R. Bradley Handicap behind the late Skate Away. He now owns 11 wins from 29 career starts for Asmussen, who claimed him for $100,000 at Saratoga in 2003.

Warleigh, who returned $7.60 to win, earned $30,000 for the victory, boosting his lifetime earnings to $635,512 for owner Ro Parra.

(Chart, Equibase)