Champions Day Candidates Gear Up

Edited from a release

Many of the likely top contenders in Saturday's 13th annual Louisiana Champions Day are getting in their final preparations.

Mr. Archibald worked five furlongs in 1:02 Sunday in his final tune up for the $150,000 Classic. A winner of his last two starts by a combined 26 1/4 lengths against state bred allowance foes, the 4-year-old has flourished since moving to the Bret Calhoun barn. "He has been a pleasant surprise," said Calhoun. Jockey Jamie Theriot was aboard for the workout and will retain the mount on Mr. Archibald.

Trainer Josie Carroll will send out Mr. Sulu again this year in the $100,000 Turf. The 5-year-old won the event in 2001 and finished third last year. "He is doing well and he loves it down here at the Fair Grounds," said Carroll, who has given jockey Robby Albarado the call.

Donna's Mailbag will look to rebound in the $100,000 Sprint after a he broke poorly and was rushed-up in the $100,000 Gold Cup at Delta Downs where he finished fifth. He worked a sharp half-mile in 47.8 Sunday, a move that pleased trainer Bobby Barnett. "He's trained nicely up to the race," said Barnett.

Trainer Steve Asmussen has committed three horses for the $50,000 Starter Handicap in Master Jon (who will be ridden by Gerard Melancon), Strike For Richard (Theriot), and Sunup Sundown (Lanerie). Sunup Sundown and Asmussen won the 2001 renewal of the Starter Handicap.

Asmussen Closes Gap On Lake
Asmussen is second in the nation with 421 wins through Sunday and has narrowed the gap on Scott Lake, who leads all trainers with 430 wins.

"It's fun to see how many you can win, but we've had better wins this year with a couple grade I's and around 50 stakes wins. That was the goal," said Asmussen. "We've had a great year."

Asmussen led all the nation's trainers in wins last year with 407, a mark he has already surpassed in 2003. He is seeking his fourth straight Fair Grounds trainer's title and is atop the standings after two weeks with eight wins.

Champions Day on TV

The award-winning Louisiana Champions Day special will air Saturday at 9 p.m. on Cox Sports Television.

The Champions Day telecast received the 2003 Media Eclipse Award for best local telecast.