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Louisiana Cup Day: Full Fields, Exciting Finishes

Louisiana Downs conducted six stakes for Louisiana-breds Sept. 19.

Mirabeau (white cap) on her way to winning the Louisiana Cup Juvenile Fillies Stakes at Louisiana Downs

Mirabeau (white cap) on her way to winning the Louisiana Cup Juvenile Fillies Stakes at Louisiana Downs

Hodges Photography / Lou Hodges Jr.

Louisiana-bred Thoroughbreds showcased their talent Sept. 19 on Louisiana Cup Day and gave breeders, owners, trainers, and jockeys a well-deserved break from the stress of COVID-19 and hurricanes targeting the Gulf Coast. An enthusiastic crowd enjoyed gorgeous weather, full fields, and thrilling finishes in each of the six featured stakes at Harrah's Louisiana Downs Casino and Racetrack.

Stakes action got underway in the second race, the $50,000 Louisiana Cup Juvenile Fillies. A very competitive field of 11 accredited 2-year-old Louisiana-bred fillies entered the gate for the six furlong contest with a commanding victory by Mirabeau.

Owned by Larry Romero and Ron Faucheux, the daughter of Bind out of the Speightstown  mare Smittystown was bred by J. Adcock and Nathan Granger and is trained by Faucheux. She was a 10 1/4-length winner in the filly's division of the $60,000 D.S. "Shine" Young Futurity on Aug. 29 at Evangeline Downs and did not disappoint Saturday.

"She gets better every time," said jockey Diego Saenz, who patiently sat off the early pace before joining Rue Lala at the top of the stretch. 

Mirabeau crossed the wire in 1:12.66, winning by a margin of six lengths. She has now won four of her five career efforts, banking $105,350.

"We couldn't ask for anything more from a 2-year-old filly," stated Faucheux. "I really liked her draw; there wasn't much speed on the outside. I figured she might hook up with (Steve) Asmussen's filly (Rue Lala), so our goal was to sit off the pace and make a run around the turn. It worked perfect for us. She keeps maturing. We aimed at this race after the "Shine" and will go right into Champions Day at Fair Grounds.  Our goal is to keep her healthy, sound, and fit and hopefully she will continue on like this."

Rue Lala held for second. Longshot Tecate Time closed for third and Inawic completed the superfecta.

It was another solid field of Louisiana-bred 2-year-old colts and geldings in the $50,000 Louisiana Cup Juvenile going six furlongs on the main track.

The victory went to Allen Landry's Chu Chu's Legacy, who broke in front under jockey Tim Thornton and never relinquished the lead, drawing clear in a final time of 1:13.41.

The son of Bind, who won the $60,000 D.S. "Shine" Young Futurity division for colts and geldings was bred by J. Adcock and Hume Wornall.  

"He's a real professional horse," said Thornton.  "Mr. Allen has done a great job with him. He looks like he has a bright future ahead of him."

Owner/trainer Landry was pleased with the tenacity of his colt.

"He does what he has to do," said Landry who purchased the colt for a modest $4,000 at the Equine Sales Mixed Sale. "He was pressured again today, but Tim said he stayed relaxed and just did his thing."

Landry's wife Sandra named the colt after Chu Chu Perez who worked for the couple as a groom and recently passed away.

Running second was 35-1 entrant Janets Jay Jay under rider Luis Batista, followed by Creole Charlie and G'wildcat.

Sent off as the favorite, Chu Chu's Legacy paid $5.20 for the win, which was his third in four starts. With the winner's share of $30,000, his earnings stand at $90,800.

There was little pressure for defending champion Is Too who schooled a very nice field of fillies and mares in the $50,000 Louisiana Cup Distaff.

The 5-year-old daughter of Midshipman  is owned by Barrone Farms, and won last year under Colby Hernandez. This year Saenz had the call and set very comfortable early fractions of :25.06 and :50:47 before drawing clear in 1:43.33 for 1 1/16 miles over a firm Franks Turf Course.

"She was very relaxed," said Saenz. "They let me set the fractions and I was able to walk the dog, like they say. I was a little nervous as I have ridden several of these mares, but she got it done."

Trainer Edward Johnston was reached on the phone following the victory.

"Diego did a tremendous job setting the fractions," he said. "I knew he would have plenty left when he was able to slow it down on the lead. They weren't going to catch her today."

Is Too ($7.20) won her seventh race from 22 starts and has now won $249,730.

Stakes winner Mariah's Galaxy was running late under rider Kevin Smith to complete the exacta with Room to Finish and Alliceous completing the top four spots.

The $50,000 Louisiana Filly and Mare Sprint attracted a highly competitive group of distaffers competing at the distance of six furlongs.

Tin Roof Farms' Snowball, a 4-year-old daughter of Apriority, won her last two races at Evangeline Downs, including the $60,000 Louisiana Legends Mademoiselle Stakes July 4. Trained by Samuel Breaux, the gray filly broke from post position three with Saenz in the saddle. Bred by 4M Ranch, Snowball made one previous start at Louisiana Downs in 2019, running fourth in the Elge Rasberry, which was run at a mile on the turf.

Sprinting has become her forte, according to her conditioner as he watched her cross the wire of the six furlong contest in 1:12.02.

"She had lots of traffic in the front," said Breaux. "But Diego got her through it and she did the rest. We changed her style from a route horse to a sprinter and she has taken advantage of it."

Owner Matt Jeffrey was on hand to see his filly pick up her third race in a row.

"It's been a blast," said Jeffrey. "To be here with our family and friends is something we look forward to. Sam does an amazing job."

Jeffrey's 7-year-old daughter Payton named the filly after admiring her at the sale, she told her parents that the potential racehorse reminded her of a snowball.

Faucheux saddled runner-up Play Unified, a 7-year-old mare by Exchange Rate, who rallied under Erica Murray. Our Lost Love, Louisiana 2-year-old champion filly, ran third followed by Miss Pat's Girl.

The $50,000 Louisiana Turf Cup Classic attracted 12 runners going a 1 1/16 miles over the Franks Turf Course.  

Budro Talking had an excellent turf record for owner Jack Randall and has won five of his eight Louisiana Downs starts, including last year's Sunday Silence. Joel Dominguez piloted the 5-year-old son of Tale of Ekati , advancing gamely down the stretch over longshot Nippy Red and previous champion In the Navy.

In one of the most animated winner's circle celebrations in Louisiana Cup history, trainer Keith Austin saluted Randall and was thrilled to notch his first stakes win as a conditioner.

"I rode for 23 years and never won a stakes," said Austin. "I said that if I ever got the opportunity to train horses, and rode the horses I trained, I would have won a stakes. Joel Dominguez was Superman today and Jack Randall is the reason I am here today. He gave me the opportunity to train when nobody else would. He believed in me. I had to make this horse happy and make him feel at home."

"He's just a champ; I was just the passenger," said rider Dominguez. "I saved ground on the first turn and gave him a clean trip. I knew he was going to come running."

Sydster followed Nippy Red and In the Navy to the wire. Budro Talking ($6.40) won in a final time of 1:41.91, earning his eighth win in 24 starts.

Two previous champions of the $50,000 Louisiana Sprint were denied in the finale when Saltee Stark finished with a rush under Louisiana Downs leading rider Dominguez.

The 5-year-old son of Calibrachoa was making his 17th career start for trainer Joe Duhon, who felt his runner would be competitive based on his July 11 win at Louisiana Downs.

"I decided to run him in this because he had a good recent race," explained Duhon. "Fellow trainer Shane Wilson and I talked about it and he felt my horse could compete. I want give thanks to my owner, John S. Turner, who passed away a couple of weeks ago."

This was the second stakes victory on the card for Dominguez, who will be honored with his first leading rider title on Wednesday.

"Joe and I talked and said if he ran like he did last time, he would win," said Dominguez. 

Defending champion Laughingsaintssong had the lead in the first half-mile, but faded to fifth. Faucheux looked for a good effort from his two entrants as Bertie's Galaxy, who was game throughout the race under Erica Murray, finished second and 2018 champion Monte Man rallied for third.

Saltee Stark ($12.00) was bred by Moon Lake Equine Center and was clocked in 1:11.19. He will be pointed to Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots according to Duhon.

Video: Louisiana Cup Juvenile Fillies S. (BT)

Video: Louisiana Cup Juvenile S. (BT)

Video: Louisiana Cup Distaff S. (BT)

Video: Louisiana Cup Filly and Mare Sprint S. (BT)

Video: Louisiana Cup Turf Classic S. (BT)

Video: Louisiana Cup Sprint S. (BT)