|The Pickett Factor Adds LA Champions Classic|
|By Frank Angst
The top two choices in the Dec. 12 Louisiana Champions Day Classic Stakes at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots hooked up in early stretch but the duel didn’t last long, as 7-5 favorite The Pickett Factor put away 8-5 choice Mobile Bay and drew off to an easy win, securing his third stakes victory this season Melissa Cantacuzene’s 3-year-old Gold Tribute runner seized the lead entering the stretch of the 1 1/8-mile race for Louisiana-breds when engaged by Super Derby (gr. II) winner Mobile Bay, who defeated The Pickett Factor in that stakes at Louisiana Downs. But this time The Pickett Factor put away Mobile Bay and cruised to a 5 1/4-length score.
With Luis Quinonez riding for trainer Ralph Irwin, The Pickett Factor tracked early leader Know You Now through a half-mile in :48.84. The Pickett Factor moved to the lead in six furlongs through 1:13.99 en route to a final time of 1:51.33. Bred by E. O. Pickett, The Pickett Factor is out of Dynaspice, by Dynaformer. The Classic is one of eight Thoroughbred stakes for Louisiana-breds, with total purses of $800,000, on Saturday’s Fair Grounds card.
Earlier in the day, Pacific Pink added to her breakout season when she overcame a troubled stretch run to post a 3/4-length victory in the $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Ladies Stakes Dec. 12 at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots. The fourth stakes win of the season didn’t come easy for Pacific Pink and jockey Robby Albarado. They bumped longshot Private Promise and rider Richard Eramia while trying to find room near the three-sixteenths pole, bullied their way to daylight near the eighth pole, and then split rivals Private Promise and fading Aliana at the sixteenth pole on the way to their hard-fought win.
In rallying past three horses in the stretch, Keith Plaisance’s Pacific Pink knocked down her second straight stakes win after rolling to a five-length score in the Elge Rasberry Stakes Sept. 19 at Louisiana Downs. The 3-year-old Private Vow�Truly Romantic, by Robyn Dancer filly has a 5-2-2 mark and $267,900 in earnings this season from nine starts. Pacific Pink, the 1-2 favorite, completed the 1 1/16-mile test for Louisiana-bred fillies and mares in 1:46.15 on a fast track.
In the Louisiana Champions Day Turf Stakes, Hot Zapper pulled off an upset victory when the 21-1 shot edged 4-5 favorite String King by a nose in a three-horse photo that saw Hopeful Nation finish third, a neck behind String King Ronald Webb’s Hot Zapper (Ghostzapper �Hot Talent, by Alphabet Soup) secured the first stakes win of his career while ending grade III winner String King’s three-race win streak and denying the favorite what would have been his 14th career stakes win. Trained by Andrew Leggio Jr., Hot Zapper was guided to victory by Jose Riquelme.
Also landing her first stakes win on Saturday’s card was Floyd Pitzer homebred Aunt Nellie, who scored a 3 1/4-length victory in the Louisiana Champions Day Lassie Stakes, a six-furlong test for Louisiana-bred 2-year-old fillies. Aunt Nellie, a daughter of Musket Man�Vanilla Whirl, by Island Whirl, boasts a 2-1-1 record in four career starts.
The first-time stakes winners continued in the Louisiana Champions Day Sprint when Dare to Dream Stable’s Jockamo’s Song rallied three or four wide to win the six-furlong test. Jockamo’s Song a 3-year-old gelding by Half Ours �Miss Clairnette, by Trophy Hunter, completed the race under jockey Mitchell Murrill in 1:10.78 on a fast track.
Ronald Webb’s Sea Vow secured his second straight stakes win when the son of Private Vow won the Louisiana Champions Day Juvenile. Sea Vow, out of the Hazaam mare Victory At Sea, entered off a November victory in the Louisiana Legacy Stakes at Delta Downs. Trained by Joseph Foster, Sea Vow was guided to victory by Alexander Castillo.
In the Louisiana Champions Day Ladies Sprint Stakes, Valene Farms’ homebred Platinum Lady scored a 17-1 upset to nail down her first stakes win. The 4-year-old daugther of Half Ours was guided to victory by Robby Albarado. Eric Heitzmann trains Platinum Lady.
In the $50,000 Starter Handicap, Hardy Racing Stable’s Watch My Smoke scored a clear victory under Colby Hernandez. Trained by Keith Bourgeois, Watch My Smoke finished third in last year’s Louisiana Champions Day Classic, second in that race in 2012, and second in the 2011 Starter Handicap.