Both $60,000 co-features Saturday at Fair Grounds provided thrilling stretch duels, with Movant prevailing over Sister Swank in the Thelma and Skate Away turning the tables on Warleigh in the Col E.R. Bradley. In the Thelma, Movant and jockey Calvin Borel took control early, while jockey Robby Albarado aggressively kept Sister Swank in close stalking range. After a half mile in :46.37, Sister Swank loomed boldly alongside Movant, commencing in a grueling duel to the wire. Movant and Borel proved best late, turning away Sister Swank in the final sixteenth to prevail by a half-length in 1:11.27 for six furlongs. The stretch-long battle involved contact between the two fillies, prompting a stewards' inquiry, but there was no change to the original order of finish. "We barely brushed, said Borel. "When I hit her with the right hand she re-broke. That may have been the difference." Trained by Tom Amoss, Movant paid $5 to win as the slight favorite over Sister Swank, corralling her first career stakes victory. She has now won three consecutive races. One race later, the $60,000 Col. E. R. Bradley Handicap, Skate Away ($21.60) ran down heavy favorite Warleigh in the late stages to prevail by a neck under Gerard Melancon, who won four races on the afternoon. Warleigh beat Skate Away in both of their previous meetings at Louisiana Downs. Trainer Jeff Trosclair took the blinkers off Skate Away, and the 5-year-old settled comfortably in sixth before launching a strong, wide rally. In the stretch, Warleigh put away early rival He Flies and opened up nearly two lengths, but was unable to hold off Skate Away in the final strides. The running time for about 1 1/16 miles on turf was 1:45.04. "It wasn't a change in strategy," Trosclair said of the equipment change. "But the blinkers off made my horse a little more tactical today."
Skate Away won for the seventh time in 24 starts, and has now won three of his four races over the Stall-Wilson course. With the victory, his career earnings increased to more than $345,000.(Chart, Equibase)