With slots approved for Fair Grounds and likely to be in place in 2005, Louisiana breeders already seem to be reaping the rewards. On Saturday, the state's horsemen will vie for a $1 million, 10-race card that features seven Thoroughbred stakes, highlighted by the $150,000 Louisiana Champion's Day Classic.
Divisional championship stakes honors for fillies and mares, juvenile colts, juvenile fillies, sprinters, turf specialists and a starter handicap will be up for grabs on the bill with post time set for 12:30 p.m. CST.
Last year's Classic winner Spritely Walker returns in top form and looks again to be a prime contender. The 4-year-old son of Skywalker is owned by the powerful Heiligbrodt Racing Stable and can bring his career bankroll over the $500,000 mark with a score.
Bred by Delmar Caldwell, Spritely Walker began a four-win streak with last year's score, two of which were Delta Downs stakes victories earlier this year in the $200,000 Louisiana Premier Night Championships Stakes and the $75,000 Bayou State Stakes.
Trained by Steve Asmussen, Spritely Walker is one of three co-highweights who will carry 123 pounds, and along with jockey Donnie Meche should be out near the front early from post 2. An impressive work (4f, B, 49.40) in the Fair Grounds slop on Sunday is evidence this colt is up to the task.
David Beard's Witt Anne, by Upping the Ante will test that foe from the rail, coming in off a gusty neck score over Meteor Impact Nov. 13 in the $100,000 Gold Cup Stakes at Delta Downs.
The four-time restricted stakes winner was bred by Sue Ball and is trained by Larry Robideaux. Tracy Herbert gets the call aboard the 4-year-old gelding, who also will carry 123.
Foxwood Plantation's homebred Screen Idol with Gerard Melancon will break from post 8 under 123 for trainer Ray Spencer. The 5-year-old son of Zarbyev was victorious last time out over Witt Ante in the $75,000 Shiskabob Stakes at Louisiana Downs Oct. 23 and enters with a solid work (5f, B, 1:03.20) over the Fair Grounds track Dec. 4.
Nitro Chip, Walk in the Snow, White Star, Meteor Impact, and Prince Slew round out the field respectively from posts 3 through 7, inclusive.
For the Juvenile set, Crimson Stag, a 2-year-old colt by Glitterman
broke his maiden this summer in a special weight contest at Saratoga and twice finished in the money in open company at the fall meet at Keeneland.
Owned by Westpoint Thoroughbreds and bred by Sharon Pate, trainer Dallas Stewart primed the colt for the race with a strong (5f, 1:02.60) breeze on the track. Fair Grounds Hall of Famer Robby Albarado will ride.Louisiana Champions Day Classic Stakes, 3-year-olds and upward, $150,000, 1 1/8 miles, Saturday, Dec. 11, Appx. Post Time 4:22 PM CST
PP--horse, weight, jockey
1--Witt Anne, 123, Tracy Herbert
2--Spritely Walker, 123, Donnie Meche
3--Nitro Chip, 112, Lonnie Meche
4--Walk in the Snow, 113, Robby Albarado
5--White Star, 113, John Jacinto
6--Meteor Impact, 113, Elvis Perrodin
7--Prince Slew, 113, Corey Lanerie
8--Screen Idol, 123, Gerard Melancon