FREE LIKE A GIRL SURPASSES $800,000 IN EARNINGS WHILE WINNING THE DISTAFF
VINTON, LA. – Delta Downs hosted its richest program of the season on Saturday evening as the 20th edition of Louisiana Premier Night took center stage. The 12-race program featured 10 stakes races and $980,000 in total purse money for Louisiana-bred horses.
The featured race on the program was the $150,000 Louisiana Premier Night Championship. The favorite, Touchuponastar did not disappoint in the race, winning easily under jockey Tim Thorton, who notched a pair of wins on the rich program.
Touchuponastar, who is owned by retired NFL quarterback Jake Delhomme’s Set Hut Stables and trained by Jeff Delhomme, was expected to set the pace in the 1 1-16-mile test for 4-year-olds and up, but an early lead was not in the cards as Brian’s Iron Mike shot to the front in the initial strides after Touchuponastar stumbled when the gates opened.
Thornton appeared to struggle with his mount early after a rough start, but he settled down and angled off the rail entering the first turn of the two-turn race. The opening quarter mile was clicked off in 23.65 seconds by Brian’s Iron Mike while Thornton guided his mount into a stalking position onto the backstretch. When the half-mile was reached in 47.47, Brian’s Iron Mike was feeling the pressure from Touchuponastar and eventually gave way to the eventual winner, who clicked off a rapid time of 1:12.89 for three quarters.
Turning for home the outcome was never in doubt, as Touchuponastar increased his lead and cruised to a final winning margin of 2-1/2 lengths over late runner Behemah Star, while recording a final time of 1:45.53. Ballinonabudjet wound up third, another three lengths behind the runner-up.
After the race, Thornton raved about Touchuponastar, whom he has ridden in all but one of his seven career starts.
“He’s a class act; does everything you ask of him,” stated the winning rider. “He stumbled out of the gate, but I was never worried.”
Touchuponastar has now won four consecutive races and five-of-seven starts overall. He banked another $90,000 for the win on Saturday and his earnings now stand at $253,100.
Bred in Louisiana by Coteau Grove Farms, Touchuponastar is a 4-year-old gelding by Star Guitar, out of the Lion Heart mare Touch Magic. He was purchased for $15,000 as yearling.
Sent off at odds of 6-5 by the fans, Touchuponastar returned $4.40 to win, $2.80 to place and $2.10 to show. Behemah Star was worth $3.20 to place and $2.60 to show. Ballinonabudjet paid $2.80 to show.
In other action on Louisiana Premier Night, Free Like a Girl won the $125,000 Distaff under jockey Pedro Cotto, Jr. for trainer Chasey Deville Pomier. The multiple graded stakes placed 4-year-old filly notched her 11thwin from 23 career starts in the race for owners Gerald Bruno, Jr., Carl J. Deville, Chasey Deville Pomier and Jerry Caroom. The $75,000 winner’s paycheck raised Free Like a Girl’s lifetime bankroll up to $829,878.
Race favorite Bron and Brow used a rail-skimming trip up jockey Rey Gutierrez to claim victory in the $100,000 Sprint. The Mark Casse trainee was well behind the leaders early in the five-furlong affair but found a seam on the inside of leader Takes Two to Tango in the stretch before drawing clear to win easily. Bron and Brow, a 4-year-old by Gormley, is owned by Gary Barber and has now won five-of-11 starts while earning $284,670.
Alpine Mist made her stakes debut a winning one in the $100,000 Starlet on Louisiana Premier Night. Under jockey Vicente Del Cid, Alpine Mist pulled the upset at odds of 11-1 for owner/breeder Melissa Cantacuzene and trainer J. Luis Garcia. Alpine Mist, a 3-year-old filly, is now a perfect three-for-three in her career and has earned $108,600.
The $100,000 Prince wasn’t without controversy this year as Allied Racing Stables’ gelding Jack Hammer made it to the wire first in the one-mile test for 3-year-olds but had to survive a jockey’s objection from C. J. McMahon, who rode runner-up Marks Promise. The objection was eventually disallowed, and the W. Bret Calhoun trainee was declared the official winner. Jack Hammer is now undefeated in his three-race career and banked $60,000 for his victory on Saturday night. His fledgling bankroll now stands at $157,755.
This year’s $100,000 Matron featured a dramatic photo finish between Snowball and Ova Charged, who hit the finished line together. After the image was examined by the placing judges, the tote board displayed a dead heat for the win.
Snowball’s effort earned her the eighth victory of her career from 47 overall starts. The 7-year-old mare has now won $470,370 for owner Tin Roof Farms, LLC and trainer Sam Breaux. Snowball was ridden to victory by jockey Vicente Del Cid.
Ova Charged, who was sent off was the heavy favorite while on a five-race winning streak, was ridden by jockey Jose Rodriguez. The Jose Camejo trainee is owned by Brittlyn Stables, Inc. Ova Charged has only suffered defeat once in her nine-race career, and that was in a graded stakes race at Belmont Park in July of 2021. Ova Charged has now earned $364,600 during her stellar career.
The biggest upset of the night came in the $60,000 Gentlemen Starter as Kevin Delahoussaye’s Freedomfi wore down pacesetter Doctor Leo in the stretch of the 1 1/16-mile event. Going off at odds of 31-1, the Glenn Delahoussaye trainee was ridden to victory by Tim Thornton. Freedomfi is now six-for-47 during his career, and he has earned $253,847.
The Mark Hibdon owned and trained D’wild Muffin took the $50,000 Bon Temps Starter under jockey Alex Birzer. The 9-year-old mare has now won six-of-16 career starts and has a bankroll of $114,704. Her local record at Delta Downs now stands at five wins and three seconds from 12 trips to the starting gate.
This year’s $60,000 LAPN Ladies Starter went to Zydeco Music under jockey Rey Gutierrez. The Shane Wilson trainee used a front-running trip to lead all the way before holding off a late challenge by A Wish for Madelyn, who made it close at the wire in the one-mile affair. Owned by Richard Anthony Tompkins, Zyedeco Music has now won 10-of-28 career starts and banked $204,440.
The final race on the card was the $50,000 Ragin Cajun Starter and it was won by Vanessa Motta’s Dixie Street under jockey Tracy Hebert for trainer Sean Alfortish. Dixie street went from last to first in the five-furlong sprint and has now won nine-of-33 career starts. He earned $30,000 for his win and now has a bankroll of $219,520.
Delta Downs has three weeks left in its 2022-23 season. The track will move to a 5:20 pm post time each Wednesday through Saturday until closing night on February 25.
For more information about racing at Delta Downs visit the track’s website at www.deltadownsracing.com. Fans can also get information about through Facebook by visiting the page ‘Delta Downs Racing’. The track’s Twitter handle is @deltaracing.