Limation Lights up the Toteboard in the Grade 3, $300,000 Super Derby at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs

Limation with jockey Diego Saenz wins the 39th running of the Super Derby at Louisiana Downs. Hodges Photography / Ann Switalski

Jockey Diego Saenz Wins Four Stakes on the Card

Bossier City, LA There were two very pleasant surprises this afternoon at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs.  First was the super effort by Michael Lankford’s Limation powering to victory in Super Derby 39 at odds of 26-1. Secondly, an ominous weather forecast of thunderstorms throughout the entire afternoon, did not come to fruition. Although a downpour hit the Shreveport area just before 2:30 p.m., the richest race of the 2018 Thoroughbred season went off under sunny skies.

Hall of Fame conditioner Steve Asmussen sent in two quality 3-year-olds: Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC and Willis Horton Racing LLC’s Lionite and Limation, for owner Michael Langford.  It was Limation, who delivered the winning effort at a big price! Sired by Alternation, he had won two of his seven career starts and shipped to Louisiana Downs off an eighth-place finish in the Ellis Park Derby on August 12. 

But today, he was a different horse and jockey Diego Saenz made easy work of his eight rivals. Forwardly placed in the early stages of the race, he got clear at the top of the lane, crossing the wire in 1:43.91, by a margin of 5 ¾ lengths over Lone Sailor.

Asmussen, who had never won an edition of the Super Derby before, was reached on the phone after the race. He was very pleased with the effort by Limation.

“We knew he was a talented colt and were very disappointed in his loss at Ellis,” explained Asmussen. “Every move we made in in that race was wrong. “That’s why we brought him back so soon. Today, the race set up perfectly and I am pleased for Michael Langford.”

Asmussen’s longtime assistant Darren Fleming saddled the dark bay colt and felt Limation was primed for today’s test.

“He’s been doing really well, said Fleming.  “He’d been at Remington Park and when he came down here, he seemed to come alive and know what his job was. He got a great ride. Diego and I talked in the paddock; we were hoping for a pace to run at and that’s what happened.”

“It was the first time I had been on him, but that’s the pace we wanted,” said Saenz. “As far as his finish, it’s like when you push the pedal and you’ve got gas!”

Lone Sailor who finished eighth in this year’s Run for the Roses for owner Gayle Benson’s GMB Racing.  Trained by Tom Amoss, the bay colt has faced the nation’s top three-year-olds, including Triple Crown winner Justify in both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. Lone Sailor ran second by a nose in the Grade 3, Ohio Derby and most recently finished a respectable third in the Grade 1, Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park. Jockey James Graham had the mount and closed gamely as the runner-up. Amoss was hoping to win his first Super Derby, but was gracious in praise for the winner.

“He broke sharp and we had a very good trip,” said Amoss. “My fear is that we would not get the pace set-up we needed. We just couldn’t catch the winner, who is a very good horse.”

High North ran third under Florent Geroux for trainer Brad Cox, who won last year’s Super Derby with Mr. Misunderstood.  Lionite completed the superfecta with David Cabrera up, followed by G’s Turn, Bode’s Maker, McFeely, Autumn Warrior and the early pacesetter, Charlie’s Schiller.

Dismissed by the betting public, Limation rewarded his backers with a win payout of $54.80. With the winner’s share of $180,000, he boosted his career bankroll to $272,958 with three wins from eight starts.

Taylor’s Spirit Conquers Turf in the $60,000 Happy Ticket

The stakes action got underway in the second race of the card, with a field of six fillies and mares in the 33rd running of the $60,000 Happy Ticket.  

Norman Stables, LLC’s Taylor’s Spirit won her first two career races at Prairie Meadows, and was seeking her second stakes win while making her turf debut for trainer Scott Gelner.  She was forwardly placed in the early stages under jockey Florent Geroux, easily drawing clear by a margin of 3 ¼ lengths. 

Scott had her well prepared and even though this was her first time on the turf, at the quarter pole it was all over,” he said. 

Gelner credited his association with the Norman family and felt confident that she would handle the turf.

“She’s a nice filly,” said Gelner. “She worked five-eighths of a mile in company the other day and was very relaxed.”

Flatoutandfoxy ran second under Kerwin Clark with Navy Regatta completing the trifecta.  Miss Perdito Key ran fourth, followed by Given Grace.  Noble Love ran yesterday at Kentucky Downs and was scratched from the Happy Ticket.

Taylor’s Spirit ($2.20) completed the mile feature over a firm turf course in 1:37.91. Gelner said his filly will make her next start in Kentucky.

Bermuda Star Wins Her Second Stake of the Meet,  the $60,000 River Cities

It was another rousing finish by Bermuda Star, owned by Brittlyn Stable, take the 33rd running of the $60,000 River Cities.

The daughter of Star Guitar won the $60,000 Louisiana Cup Distaff, run here on August 4. That race was run over a firm turf course, but due to a major downpour, the turf condition was changed to yielding.  Rider Diego Saenz has the return call for trainer Victor Arceneaux, dueling with  Hachi (CHI) and winning in a final time of 1:44.35. 

“I was really concerned with the condition of the turf course,” said Arceneaux. “I told Diego if she was not comfortable to pull her up, but all of the sudden, she went to running and the rest was history. I want to thank Wayne Simpson and Tom Curtis for breeding this horse.”

Hachi (CHI), a 5-year-old stakes-placed mare ran second under jockey Florent Geroux as the 7-5 morning-line choice.  Brad Cox trains the Chilean import for breeder and owner Don Alberto Stable.  Holiday’s Angel with Eguard Tejera up, ran third. Completing the superfecta was Calumet Farms’ Susie Bee.

This was the sixth career win for Bermuda Star ($8.40), who was sent off as the second choice in the wagering.

Ice City Ghost Springs the Upset in the $60,000 Sunday Silence 

The 15th running of the $60,000 Sunday Silence produced the first upset of the afternoon with Ice City Ghost breaking his maiden and winning the first stakes of his career. 

Bred and owned by Dream Walkin Farms, Inc., the gelded son of Ice Box was making just his second start and Diego Saenz, who won the Sunday Silence last year with Budro Talking, kept his mount on the lead, and finished in 1:37.63, a margin of 2 ¼ lengths ahead of Cabo’s Rumor.

Ice City Ghost ran fourth on August 10 at Evangeline Downs and trainer Carl Deville, Jr. felt his charge would improve in his next outing.

“The colt had a little trouble in his first race, but he’s been doing really well,” said Deville. “I was looking at the race and today he proved he could run.”

Cabo’s Rumor, winner of the $60,000 Louisiana Cup Juvenile here on August 4, finished second for Northpointe Thoroughbreds. The son of Amanecer de Oro was making his first start on turf for trainer Steven Duke. Big Bobby Brown closed for third and American Gem, at 28-1, completed the superfecta.

Ice City Ghost rewarded his supporters with a win payout of $42.20, and earned $36,000 for the victory.  Deville was unsure of his next start.

Big Changes Prevails in the $60,000 Unbridled 

Trainer Brad Cox sent Big Changes to Louisiana Downs last year and today he returned a winner in the 40th running of the $60,000 Unbridled.  The Florida-bred son of Shipman owned by Steve Landers Racing, LLC was in pursuit of his fourth consecutive stakes race in the mile and one-sixteenth turf feature. He won the $50,000 John Henry at Evangeline Downs and followed that with a three-length victory in the West Virginia House of Delegates Speaker’s Cup Stakes at Mountaineer Park on August 4. The chestnut gelding was the favorite in last year’s Unbridled, running second to Net Gain, 

But with a confident rider by jockey Florent Geroux, he prevailed this year as the strong favorite in the 10- horse field.

“He showed a lot of grit today,” said assistant trainer Ricky Giannini.  “Florent had to move a little early to shake off the competition. He was challenged all the way down the backside, but got clear and fought on down the lane,”

Mocito Rojo under Filemon Rodriguez ran second followed by Potomac River and Magic Vow. 

This was the fourth win in a row for Big Changes ($2.80) who increased his career earnings to $381,550 with today’s score.

Yes Gorgeous Tops Louisiana-Bred Fillies in the $60,000 Elge Rasberry

The 24th running of the $60,000 Elge Rasberry drew a field of ten Louisiana-bred 3-year-old fillies. The heavy rainfall, which had been expected in Sunday’s forecast, hit as the field headed into the starting gate. Fortunately, it did not deter Yes Gorgeous, who handled the adverse conditions with little difficulty.

Owned and trained by Scott Gelner, the filly by Mass Media has been a model of consistency. Other than her first two career efforts, she has never missed a check.  She was unpressured under jockey Diego Saenz, covering the first quarter in :24.17 and the half-mile in :48.94 and finishing in 1:37.54.

“She is just a blessing from God for me and my family,” stated Gelner. “She has handled everything we have ever asked: turf, dirt, even running against the boys. I never have to tell Diego what to do; he always knows, and we couldn’t be more proud of her.”

Scrivener Stables’ Savvy Shipman, ran second by two lengths for trainer Mike Maker and rider Colby Hernandez. Bionic Butterfly, trained by Steve Flint, who has been a solid allowance level performer at Evangeline Downs for Whispering Oaks Farm, LLC, was third under Florent Geroux with Fleet Halo completing the superfecta.

Yes Gorgeous paid $6.40 for the victory; her fourth in 17 starts.  Her career bankroll now stands at $208,455. Gelner reported that they will give her a break and she is slated to return on Louisiana Champions Day at Fair Grounds.

Battle At Sea Impressive in the $60,000 A. L. (Red) Erwin

Louisiana-bred 3-year-old colts and geldings competed in the $60,000 A. L. (Red) Erwin. The feature was moved to the main track after heavy rainfall hit Bossier City at 2:25 pm this afternoon.

Trainer Mike Maker sent in Battle At Sea a son of Into Mischief for Three Diamonds Farm. This was the fifth stakes of the year for the bay colt, who made his last start in the Ellis Park Derby on August 12.

Assistant Miguel Castellanos gave jockey Colby Hernandez a leg up, and he prevailed as the heavy favorite, covering a mile and 70 yards on the sloppy track in 1:44.07

“First off, I want to thank Mike and the owners for giving me the opportunity to ride this horse,” said Hernandez. “He broke sharp and is a pretty tough horse. I didn’t want to get in his way. I called on him at the quarter-pole and he went on with it.”

Longshot Big Boy Dave Rex ran second under Juan Larrosa, followed by Greeley Went West and General Tone.

Battle At Sea returned $3.20 for the win. This was the third career win for the Louisiana-bred  colt, and his second on an off track.

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