Trainer David Carroll finally found the right formula for Connected. The 6-year-old found the winner's circle for the first time since October 2001 with a victory in the $75,000 Louisiana Handicap Thursday at Fair Grounds. "We're going to enjoy this one for a while since it's been a long time since he got his picture taken," Carroll said. "Today the field was a little bit softer and he got some fractions to run at. It was just a question of getting some racing room. Once he got that he won rather easily." Ridden by Larry Melancon, Connected closed after fractions of 24.48 seconds for the quarter-mile and 49.95 for the half. Melancon saved ground on the rail before easing out in the stretch to post a 2 1/4-length win over Intern. Horrible Evening finished third. "Things worked out his way today," said Melancon, who guided Connected under the line in 1:44.82 for a mile-and-a-sixteenth. "When I got through he was there and he kicked right in. I think his closing style and a softer spot certainly helped today." Last year's Louisiana Derby runner-up Easyfromthegitgo finished fifth as the 8-5 favorite. Owned by Helen Alexander and Helen Groves Revocable Trust, Connected returned $9.80, $4.40, and $2.60. Carroll put the blinkers back on Connected for his first start of 2003. Combine that with a little overdue racing luck, and things fell into place.
"We put the blinkers back on him," Carroll said. "We just changed up things a little bit. This is a horse that just needed some racing luck."(Chart, Equibase)