NEW ORLEANS, La. (December 10, 2022) – The commanding speed in the $150,000 Louisiana Champions Day Classic, Set-Hut’s Touchuponastar overcame a slow break to lead through all calls and pour it on late to win by 4 3/4 lengths over Behemah Star. The Star Guitar-sired exacta had plenty in the tanks after coasting through soft fractions, keeping the odds-on favorite Who Took the Money at bay.
Touchuponastar, a lightly raced-3-year-old trained by Jeff Delhomme, ran the 1 1/8 miles in 1:50.66 to collect his first career stakes win. Timothy Thornton rode the winner for Delhomme family, Jerry, Jeff, and ex-NFL quarterback Jake.
Pausing for an instant after the gates flew upon, Touchuponastar recovered quickly, hustling by the early challenger Highland Creek in the early going to set fractions of 24.55 and 49.34. He received no pressure as Highland Creek kept 1 1/2 lengths back to his outside. Behemah Star made his move to take over in second through the final bend but never menaced Touchuponastar who extended his lead to six lengths at the stretch call. Who Took the Money stalked wide in sixth before beginning a late move that never threatened the winner but was game enough to beat Ballinonabudjet for third. The rest finished well back.
“We knew he was a special horse all along,” Timothy Thornton said. “We knew we were coming here to beat Who Took the Money, but when I was able to get that first quarter as slow as I was going, I thought Calhoun’s horse (Highland Creek) was going to pressure me. When they left me alone, I knew I was going to have plenty left, and he was definitely able to show how special he is today.”
Touchuponastar is a son of Guitar Star out of the Lion Heart mare Touch Magic and was bred in Louisiana by Coteau Grove Farms. The four-time winner returned $12.40, $5.60 and $3.00 as the 5-1 third betting choice in the field of seven older males.
Cosmic Train, Highland Creek, and Maga Man completed the order of finish. Beauregard was scratched.
Touchuponastar netted $60,000 for owner Set-Hut LLC and now boasts career earnings of $163,100 from a record of 4-1-1 in 6 starts.
“He’s young and has a big future ahead of him,” trainer Jeff Delhomme said. “We were leaning towards the Classic the entire time (instead of the Sprint). We didn’t run in the prep because earlier in the career we swung back in three weeks and we think that ended up being a little too fast. It opens a lot of doors for us to be able to get nine furlongs, even outside Louisiana-bred horses.”
In other stakes action on the Louisiana Champions Day Card, Kendel D. Standlee’s Big Chopper rolled from off a 44.79 opening half mile to win the $100,000 Sprint going away at 6-1 for trainer Scott Gelner and jockey Corey Lanerie. He was followed home in the trifecta by longshots Relentless Dancer (15-1) and Mike J (46-1). After pressing into a hot pace, 2-1 favorite Bertie’s Galaxy finished last of the 12.
In the $100,000 Ladies Distaff, Thomas Galvin’s A.G’s Charlotte proved her upset win in the Big World last month was no fluke, but this time she was forced to close into moderate fractions instead of having the table set for her. The circumstances were different, but the results were the same as she scored by a narrow margin under a heady, rail-skimming ride by Marcelino Pedroza, Jr. as the 5-2 second choice for trainer Patricia West. The pacesetter Winning Romance, who walked through an opening half-mile in 49.19, battled gamely but finished second as the 3-5 public choice. Fort Polk, last year’s Distaff winner, settled for third.
In the $100,000 Ladies Sprint, Brittlyn Stables’ Ova Charged made short work of her overmatched rivals, rolling home in gate-to-wire fashion to score by 4 ¾ effortless lengths at the 1-5 chalk for Jose Camejo. Free Like a Girl, Spirited Beauty and Snowball completed the order of finish. With the win, Evelyn Benoit’s Brittlyn Stables extended their record of Champions Day wins to 15.
In the $100,000 Juvenile, Kevin Stedman’s Late September (5-1) broke inward from the starting gate, wired the field, and eventually survived a claim of foul to give trainer Jose Camejo his first of two Champions Day wins on the card. It was one of three scores on the day for Fair Grounds’ leading rider Jose Luis Rodriguez. Tumbarumba, the 3-5 favorite, was severely compromised at the start, but he rallied on nicely to be second in front of Calicoco, who checked in third.
In the $100,000 Lassie, Mansfield Racing’s Free Drop Maddy (6-5 second choice) battled for the lead from the rail, took over on the turn for home and built the lead in the stretch before holding off the slow starting 1-1 favorite Norah G to win by a diminishing neck. It was far back to Tensas Candy in third.
The two starter races were won by the mare Zydeco Music (7-5) for owner Richard Anthony Tompkins, jockey Jose Rodriguez and trainer Shane Wilson and the gelding Dixie Street for owner Vanessa Motta, trainer Sean Alforish and jockey Tracy Hebert respectively.