Louisiana Champions Day: ‘Rock Steady’ Cilla Takes On ‘Sharp’ Ova Charged In Contentious Ladies Sprint Stakes

On a racing day dedicated to Louisiana-breds, one race best tells the story of the Magnolia state’s recent breeding success: The $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Ladies Sprint Stakes.

Two impressive 3-year-old fillies face off: the lightly-raced Ova Charged, representing owner and breeder Brittlyn Stables and trainer Jose Camejo, and the relatively seasoned graded stakes winner, Cilla, owned by P Dale Ladner, bred by P Dale Ladner and Brett Brinkman, who also serves as her trainer.

With a post time of 2:56 p.m. CT, The Louisiana Champions Day Ladies Sprint Stakes is the 7th race on Saturday’s 13-race card at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots. Louisiana Champions Day includes 10 stakes races totaling $1,050,000. Race 1 post time is 12:05 p.m. CT.

“Kudos to the breeding establishment in the state because I think we’ve got a pretty good bunch of horses in our program right now,” Cilla’s trainer and breeder Brett Brinkman said.

Cilla and Ova Charged come into the race poised to run big and likely eclipse the photo finish light from reaching the rest of the field.

The daughter of Louisiana legend Star Guitar, who won 24 of his 30 races, Ova Charged has the potential to be one of the very best her stallion has ever produced. That title is currently held by Minit to Stardom, who banked $536,180 for the same connections, winning the Ladies Sprint in 2019 along the way.

“She is gonna be the one,” trainer Jose Camejo said. “Everybody saw how she ran last time. We have had high hopes for her from day one. She’s been doing good. And hopefully in this race she can improve and show who she is. We’re ready for her.”

But is Cilla ready for her? Let the facts speak for themselves: sired by California Chrome and out of the broodmare Sittin at the Bar, she’s a perfect three for three at 6 furlongs on the dirt (1 for 1 at Fair Grounds), winner of the Prioress (G2) at Saratoga, the Louisiana Legends Mademoiselles Stakes in the slop at Evangeline Downs, and the Blue Sparkler Stakes at Monmouth.

“I wouldn’t trade places with anybody,” Brett Brinkman said. “We love her [Cilla]. She has been really good to us. I know Camejo has a really nice filly on his hands–she ran a big race here earlier in the meet. But I like my filly and her accomplishments–she’s been rock steady for us since Champions Day at Evangeline. She is doing good. I feel great about her.”

In the Raven’s Run (G2) at Keeneland in October, Cilla got caught in the middle of a three-wide duel led by Strong Silent and followed by Miss Speedy. At 7 furlongs, a distance she has yet to prove herself over, she put away those quality foes and finished third, five lengths ahead of graded stakes winners Souper Sensational and Obligatory (who won the Chilukki at Churchill Downs next out). But the early exertion set up for closers Caramel Swirl and Joy’s Rocket to come flying late for the respective win and place.

“Tyler said when she broke, she broke right on the button and he caught himself a little further forward than he anticipated,” Brinkman said. “When she settled in, she wanted to be just right up there with them [Miss Speedy and Strong Silent] and ended up on the lead going into the turn. By the middle of the turn she ended up on the front end so instead of fighting and dragging her backwards, he went on with it. Take nothing away from the two fillies that outrun her–they are really nice fillies–but she ran for the wire, it’s not like she hung it up, those fillies came and got her.”

Ova Charged’s most recent start came against far lesser foes, but the optional-claiming second-level state-breds, allowed her to try something new in preparation for Saturday. Her 10+ length victory last out was guided by 68-year old jockey Rafael Torrealalba. She had wired her first two races, finishing a combined 16+ lengths ahead of Delta Downs maidens and Monmouth Park first-level allowance company in the slop. One of dam Charged Cotton’s five who have won 28% of 49 starts, this phenom filly could have wired the field, but instead the veteran jockey got her to relax, perching in 4th through the ¼ pole and on the move but still in 2nd at the ½.

“That was the plan,” Camejo said. “She was coming from a long layoff and we didn’t want her to be on the lead even though she was the best in the race. We wanted to teach her a little patience from behind and see if she could do that. I told the rider [Torrealba] ‘try and see if you can run from behind, let her break and see where she wants to be and at the 3/16s, then let her go and see how she will finish.’”

You wouldn’t guess it from watching their last races, but on Saturday, Cilla looks to relax and make a targeted run, while Ova Charged plans to be on or near the lead. Possible rain could alter course, and both trainers Camejo and Brinkman expressed confidence in their jockeys.

“The plan for Saturday,” Camejo continued, “I am going to leave that to the rider, I’ll be honest with you. She is going to be a little more sharp for this race, running closer to the lead now that she has the race under her belt.”

Jockey Reylu Gutierrez will guide Ova Charged from post 5. Fresh off the Pan Zareta masterpiece on Brooke Marie, Adam Beschizza will guide Cilla from post 3. Both are riding their horse for the first time.

“[Cilla’s] last work was by herself,” Brinkman said. “We had been working her with company, letting her sit off by herself and then go after them. This last breeze we just kinda let her ease away from the pole and power home from the lane. It opened my eyes a little bit–she was really fast in the lane, a lot faster than I thought she was going to be. As much as I want to win the race, I am really focusing on her relaxing. Giving her a target to run at. I’m gonna tell Adam what my filly’s preferences are and how she has exhibited her best racing and just let him ride his race from there.”

Though overmatched on paper, the remainder of the 8-horse field is filled with well-bred winners in more-than-capable hands. Breaking from the 1st post is stakes winner, Strong Beauty. Trained by Fair Grounds’ 2020-2021 leading trainer, Ron Faucheux, this daughter of Overanalyze and Headstrong Beauty has shown early speed and likely will need to send from the rail. Bred by Terry Gabriel & Dr. & Mrs. E C Hart, this 4-year-old to be ridden by Carlos Marquez needs to have found another level of speed in her 100+ day freshening.

The first of two 4M Ranch-breds, gray mare Snowball, looks to find more in her 10th start as a 5-year-old. Breaking from post 2 with hot jockey Colby Hernandez up, this Tin Roof Farms-owned earner of $323,280 will benefit from a duel out front that she can close into. Sired by Apriority and dam Inner Peace, Snowball is making her second start off a layoff for trainer Samuel Breaux, finishing 4th to quality statebred company last out.

Wire-to-wire maiden winner last out, Sum of the Parts sired Sumitup will break from post 4 with Jose Riquelme riding. Bred by J Adcock and trained by Delmar Caldwell, this filly owned by Double Dam Farm appears overmatched but is a lightly raced 3-year-old running 2nd time in her form cycle so could improve.

The Lonnie Briley-trained 7-year-old mare, Suzie’s Dream, has not shown the same speed she once had since Norman Stables claimed this Tiz the One for $7,500 three races back in June. She breaks from post 6 with Aubrie Green up. Suzie’s Dream is the second 4M Ranch-bred competitor.

Last-out wire-to-wire winner at a mile, Sarah’s Passion makes her third start in her form cycle. Drawing post 7, Allen Landry calls Joe Stokes to ride this Songandaprayer 4-year-old owned and bred by Perform Stables.

In the far outside post, Sienna Breeze makes her stakes debut with apprentice Brianne Culp aboard. Bred by Joey R Agular, owned and bred by Charles Rosier, this Custom for Carlos 4-year-old has won one time before at this distance and has shown alacrity from the gate in the past.

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Louisiana Champions Day Turf Winner looks to add Distaff to her Stakes Success

Net a Bear can do it all: turf, dirt, sprint, route. But one of the things this versatile 5-year old mare hasn’t done is win at 1 1/16th miles on dirt. That’s the distance they’ll travel in the 31st running of the $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Ladies Distaff.

Entered for a $20,000 claiming tag in her third career start, Net a Bear is now a 6-time stakes winner with over $400,000 in the bank. Installed as Mike Diliberto’s 7-5 morning line favorite, Net a Bear rides three straight wins into this, beating her two main rivals in those contests. Bred by Lora Pitre & Elaine Carroll and sired by Awesome Bet, this 5-year old mare loves the grass as much as the dirt. Trainer Allen Landry calling upon regular rider Timothy Thornton, this team does not turn back a challenge–as long as it is in the state of Louisiana. And she is not alone in having made all her starts in “The Boot;”. Her main competition, Fort Polk and Quikfast N Ahurry, have always kept it close to home, too.

Quikfast N Ahurry is making the third start in her form cycle after finishing second in her last two outings at Delta Downs, including a half length loss to Net A Bear in the Magnolia. A positive angle for this Steve Flint 4-year old filly is that she won her last two starts 3rd off the layoff. Owned by Whispering Oaks Farm and bred by Carol J Casille out of sire Closing Argument and dam Wynning Ride. Colby Hernandez will break from the rail and is likely to save ground on the first turn.

Morning 6-shooter, Fort Polk looks to have sustained her spring form. There are more bullets on her PPs than holes in the OK Corral. Blinkers off woke up this horse and it has been apparent in the mornings. She’s won three of her last four, with her lone loss in that stretch coming at the hooves of Net a Bear. Patrick Mouton trained, Steve and Pat Roe owned, Fort Polk makes her first start after three months off. Prudently placed, Mouton now aims this Behindatthebar Spanish Cross Stable LLC bred for her first stakes victory. Jorge Guzman up, this 5-year old mare will break from the 2 and likely press potential early pacesetter, Winning Romance.

Another rounding second in her form cycle is her 3-year old Winning Romance. Her three wins have come out front but trainer Bret Calhoun has been stretching her out, last time going Saturday’s distance at Churchill Downs finishing 15+ lengths back after a slower than usual start. Deshawn Parker will look to return to her impressive 20-length win at Evangeline Downs on June 5th. Allied Racing Stable owned and bred will break from post 4.

The last of the five starters is the 3-year old filly, Eileen Alexandra. Running against the pace dynamic last out, this early speed presser struggled, but she has the tactical advantage to tighten up to the likely early speed to her inside. The second race since transfering from the Amoss barn to Ronnie Ward, this Bob Mahoney owned daughter of Jess’s Dream needs to show more to score against this small but mighty team of Louisiana breds.

Former Champions Grand Luwegee and Pound for Pound will have plenty of company out front for the Classic

The best effort of 6-year old Grand Luwegee’s career came when he won this race last year at Fair Grounds, his lone start at 1 ⅛ miles on dirt. A muddy track last year may have contributed to his 52-1 shocker, and a Saturday forecast repeat that could be to his liking for the 30th start of his career as he has never finished out of the money out of 6 starts in the mud. Add to that jockey Colby Hernanadez is back up and we have the recipe for this Gerard Perron owned, bred, and trained horse to take the big stack and move less than $10,000 away from a cool half million.

But he’ll have company out front with the presence of Pound for Pound. No rider has been more assertive with her speedy mounts so far at Fair Grounds than Aubrie Green who rides the 2019 Classic champion, who missed the race last year. Owned by Israel Flores Horses, bred by J Addock & B & B Bloodstock, this early mover also knows how to fight off rivals late. Seven of his seventeen exacta finishes have come down to less than half a length. Trained by Andrea Ali, the 6-year old horse drew post 3 and could follow Grand Luwegee until ready to punch.

Likely to settle and make one run, Jimi’s A Star will have to go further than he has ever attempted before. With 3 wins out of 31 starts, this 5-year old Star Guitar gelding knows how to cash, finishing in the money 18 times. Jose Guzman grabs the reins out of post 2 for connections trainer Henry Johnson and owner/breeder James Boyd.

Mageez in the money line looks like the stat sheet for James HArden after a night against the Rockets: 64 starts 11 wins 14 places 12 shows. But none of those wins have come at Saturday’s distance. This 8-year old veteran sired by Musket Man relies on his late kick and often gets caught wide or finds trouble doing so. Facing lesser the last five races, trainer Delmar Caldwell and rider Mitchell Murrill surely smiled to see that even though the competition is stiff, there is a strong possibility of a pace meltdown playing into Mageez hoofs. Owned by Double Dam Farm and bred by James A Mcgehee Jr, a return to summer’s form would light up the tote board for this stalwart in post 4.

Unrestricted’s best races have been his last two. After a three-month freshening for trainer Kenneth Hargrave, this 5-year old out of Bind makes his first start at this distance while running in the best form of his career. Owned by Yovanni Rustrian Munoz and bred by Columbine Stable, Jose Riquelme will guide this quick consistent gelding from post 5.

With four wins out of seven starts, Who Took the Money often answers his own question. After an awkward start in the Churchill Downs slop last out and a slow start at Indiana Downs before that, this Bret Calhoun 3-year old looks to get back to breaking sharp and winning in the homestretch. Always a bit of a headcase, this Allied Racing Stable owned and bred gelding is 3 for 3 at Fair Grounds, and he will break from post 6.

Secret Vista faces his toughest yet while going longer than a mile for the first time. Angel Cordero keeps Carlos Marquez up to pilot this Paddy O’Prado 4-year old. Owned by Omar Ramirex and bred by J Adock & Hume Wornall, maybe stretching out will show another level for this 3 for 19 gelding breaking from post 7.

Sprint to route would be the path taken to glory if Allied Racing owned and Bret Calhoun trained second entrant Highland Creek can win the Classic. A dominant press and pass winner off a summer layoff last out over 6 ½ furlongs at Delta Downs, jockey Adam Beschizza might choose to send from the outside, post 8. J Adock & Neil McFadden bred gelded son of Broken Vow is cross-entered in the LA Champions Turf.

Unified Report enters Juvenile sprint undefeated

Need for speed is the name of the game in the $100,000 Juvenile Sprint where five horses entered have proven to win out front. On a dirt course that has been favoring front runners, whether or not these 2-year olds can relax behind others and find rhythm late is the question they will have to answer.

Morning line favorite Unified Report (5-2) led most of the way in both of his previous victories, but those leads came after rating and passing–always a sign of talent and good things to come for horses early in their career. Dallas Stewart calls his go-to pilot Brian Hernandez Jr to ride this Stephen Brown bred colt, owned by Valene Farms. The recent winner of the Louisiana Legacy Stakes at Delta Downs will break form post 8 with two speed demons to his outside.

Immediately in post 9, Gotmy Mo Jo Workin earned an impressive speed figure breaking his maiden in gate to wire last out. The Mo Tom gelding won’t have it quite so easy this time. Far outside True Deal has done his best running on the lead and going shorter. Lonnie Brilley brings 2,576 lifetime winning jockey Timothy Thornton on board to see what kind of trip he can work out from the far outside post.

The meet’s leading trainer Jose Camejo sends out Tamborine Star (post 4, ML 4-1) after a live, front running score with the addition of blinkers last out. Irwin Rosendo strikes again aboard this Brittlyn Stable owned son of Star Guitar.

The mornings have belonged to 2nd-time starter maiden Bron and Brow (post 5, ML 5-1). Three bullet workouts concluded with best of 90 going 4 furlongs on December 4th. Blinkers are on for this Lakers fans hunch play that will likely not get many Pelicans backers.

Brett Brinkman’s Grunt won with the easy lead last and will likely have difficulty seeing the front end from the rail (ML 12-1). Patrick Mouton sends out last time winner My Heavy Son (Angel Suarez riding from post 2, ML 30 -1) who has stayed fresh since that Louisiana Downs maiden win against state breds. Steven Asmussen’s Charco (post 3, ML 9-1) has not shown much improvement in four starts and took advantage of the paceless gift he was given on the lead last time out at Delta Downs.

Route to sprint is the angle for Allen Landry’s Vodka Gimlet (ML 8-1), breaking from post 6 with Joe Stokes on board. And in post 7 Feisty Fist takes another shot at morning line favorite, Unified Report, after falling 3 ¾ lengths short after stalking the easy going leader last out.

Little Question that No Parole Will Break Loose in the LA Champ Sprint, but How Long Will He Last?

A return to top form has been as difficult to find as favorable pace setups for the classy front-runner No Parole. The 2020 G1 Woody Stephens has won only once in six starts since, and in his losses, he hasn’t been close, leaving many to wonder if this shooting star has faded away. Tom Amoss calls the 4-year old colt’s original rider, James Graham, back to the saddle. Perhaps the “lucky charm,” who was aboard for No Parole’s first three races resulting in wins by 34 combined lengths for this Maggie Moss and Greg Tramontin owned enigma, can help make a difference.

Monte Man, an 8-year-old son of Custom for Carlos, has been a revelation since being claimed by trainer Gary Sciacca for $25,000 at Belmont Park in October 2017. Ivory Sisters Racing turned him over to trainer Ron Faucheux for his next start and he won a local optional-claimer in December 2017, which was the start of a seven-race winning streak. All told, Monte Man is 17-for-49, which includes eight stakes wins, though last year was his first win in the Louisiana Champions Day Sprint, after running third in the race in 2018 and fourth in the 2019 renewal. Always ready with a late move, the pace dynamic should set up nicely and Adam Beschizza gets the call for Ron Faucheux to try to repeat this winning tradition. Faucheux also sends out Bertie’s Galaxy, who finished a disappointing 5th as the favorite in the 2020 edition. Another speedster who doesn’t perform nearly as well when not allowed to dictate terms, this 5-year old gelding has won three out of this last 4, most recently at Delta Downs against conditioned allowance company.

Rounding out the field from the inside out starts with trainer Ricky Courville’s Father Goose (jockey Pedro Cotto Jr, ML 20-1) who has won three out of twelve starts but has yet to face anything as tough as these stakes superstars. Most recently winning against allowance company sprinting on turf, Allen Landry’s Hail State (jockey Joe Stokes, post 3, ML 10-1) would need a hail mary type miracle to score this caliber of win against these foes. A two-time stakes winner out of the Hugh Robertson barn, Sir Wellington (post 4, ML 8-1) is a 3-year old coming into his own. Making his second start after a tough duel against talented foes at Churchill Downs last out, this colt by Palace gets hot jockey Marcelino Pedroza Jr up. Woodbine shipper, Swot Analysis (post 6, jockey Deshawn Parker, ML 8-1) tried two turns on the turf last out, flashed speed and faded 7th against second level optional claimers. A one time G3 entered 3-year old by Anchor Down, this Mark Casse trainee seems to have used that as a prep for Champions Day and this horse could be a live long shot. Last out winner Pickens (jockey Jose Varga, post 7, ML 10-1) has posted competitive speed figures but against much lesser in the optional claiming ranks at Delta Downs. If the up and down form holds true for the every other start superstar/clunker runner Takes Two to Tango (post 8, Emmanuel Nieves, ML 8-1) then Saturday could be a high mark for this Jose Garcia trained 5-year old gelding who was eased in his most recent start. Scott Gelner sends out Izzy’s Baby Boy (jockey Aubrie Green, post 9, ML 20-1) who is 0 for 6 at this distance but had a nice recent win two back going 6 ½ furlongs.

Large Field for the Lassie Creates Interesting Puzzle of Possibility

A full field of lightly raced 2-year olds creates the type of chaos that savvy bettors thrive on, but three logical horses will take the lion’s share of the market’s action: Free Like a Girl, Basalt Street, and Wholelottamo.

Eight races run and eight races in the money puts Free Like a Girl as the 9-5 morning line favorite in the 31st running of the Louisiana Champions Day Lassie. Her last three races were strong wins against state-bred stakes company. Second favorite Basalt Street will likely attract a lot of sharp money after her dominating eight length maiden win here on opening day. Louisiana Downs stakes winner Wholelottamo could redeem herself after tossing in a clunker last out behind Free Like A Girl as the well beaten 3-5 favorite in the Louisiana Jewel at Delta Downs.

Second time starters Valtesse (trained by Allen Landry, ridden by Colby Hernandez, post 1, ML 20-1), Dreaming of Neany (trained by Sam David Jr, ridden by MArcelino Pedroza Jr, post 3, ML 8-1), Beleout (trained by Delmar Caldwell, ridden by James Graham, post 4, ML 20-1), Won Day (trained by Allen Landry, ridden by Joe Stokes, post 10, ML 8-1), all ran impressively at first asking and appear to be in striking distance in terms of logical speed figure improvements second time out. Dreaming of Neany looks to have won in a key race that featured two next winners, including Basalt Street.

Filling out the field is Medley (trained by Steve Asmussen, ridden BJ Hernandez Jr., post 6, ML 8-1), Dream on It (trained by Emile Schwandt, ridden by Reylu Gutierrez, post 8, ML 6-1), Maestria (trained by Cathal Lynch, ridden by Adam Beschizza, post 9, ML 8-1), and Buckly Bunny (trained by Steve Flint, ridden by Kevin Smith, post 11, ML 20-1).

Recency Key to Turf Championship: Oldies but goodies try to remain prominent

Two horses on the rise look to offer peak performances in the 31st running of the Louisiana Champions Day Turf.

Making his second career start in the Turf, Carlea’s Dream (post 3, ML 3-1) seems sharper than ever, posting two of his fastest lifetime speed figures in recent starts. Three wins out of four tries at the race’s distance of 1 1/16 miles on turf, the gelded son of Lea trained by Karen Jacks should be involved early and often keeping close to his front-running fow, Mangelsen. SInce Ron Faucheux claimed this 5-year old gelding, he has done nothing but find his form and post faster speed figures. The Big Band Sound gelding loves the turf and loves to send it back into his foe’s faces. Mangelsen (ML 4-1) has one way to go and the rail draw keeps it simple for regular rider, Marcelino Pedroza Jr.

Programmed between the two likely favorites in post 2 Highland Creek. Sprint to route, dirt to turf would be the path taken to glory if Allied Racing owned and Bret Calhoun trainee can win the Turf. A dominant press and pass winner off a summer layoff last out over 6 ½ furlongs at Delta Downs, jockey Adam Beschizza might choose to send along with Mangelsen but likely will follow. J Adock & Neil McFadden bred gelded son of Broken Vow is cross-entered in the Louisiana Champions Classic.

With four wins out of seven starts, another contender is Who Took the Money, After an awkward start in the Churchill Downs slop last out and a slow start at Indiana Downs before that, this Bret Calhoun 3-year old looks to get back to breaking sharp and winning in the homestretch. Always a bit of a headcase, this Allied Racing Stable owned and bred gelding is 3 for 3 at Fair Grounds, and he will break from post 5. He too is cross-entered in the Classic. .

Rounding out the field is last out winner Jeb’s Lucky Eight (trained by Frank Pennino, ridden by James Graham, post 4, ML 20-1); the always fortunate Mr. Four Sevens (Courtney Dandridge Jr, ridden by Jose Riquelme, post 6, ML 20-1); Louisiana stalwart Trey’s Midnite Moon (trained by Bunky Richards, ridden by Aubrie Green, post 7, ML 15-1); Get Them Justin (trained Sturges Ducoing, ridden by Angel Suarez, post 8, ML 15 -1); I’m a Cowboy Too (trained by Gary Scherer, ridden by Mitchell Murrill, post 9, ML 15-1); the third from Bret Calhoun, late kicker Budro Talking (ridden by Emmanuel Nieves, post 10, ML 8-1); Britts a Closer (trained by David Gomez, ridden by Colby Hernandez, post 11, 6-1); and Jaci’s Royalty (trained by Cortland Harrison, ridden by Declan Carroll, post 12, ML 12-1).

The post Louisiana Champions Day: ‘Rock Steady’ Cilla Takes On ‘Sharp’ Ova Charged In Contentious Ladies Sprint Stakes appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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