Nosilverspoonshere Proves her Class in Shantel Lanerie Memorial
Corey Lanerie Notches Fifty at Fair Grounds with fated triumph in stakes named for his departed wife
After breezing through her allowance conditions, Rocket Ship Racing’s Nosilverspoonshere successfully stepped up to Louisiana-bred stakes company beating seven older fillies and mares by one length in the $75,000 Shantel Lanerie Stakes on Sunday at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots. Trained by Tom Amoss and piloted by Corey Lanerie, Nosilverspoonshere completed the 1 mile 70 yards in 1:43.33
Named in memory of jockey Corey Lanerie’s wife Shantel who died from complications from treating breast cancer, Sunday’s finale was a poignant conclusion to the 2022-2023 meet as Corey Lanerie’s fiftieth win was by far the most meaningful.
“Words can’t describe it,” Corey Lanerie said. “I know (Shantel) is looking down on us and she helped me get across the wire. At one point in the race, I didn’t know if I was going to get there. I dove inside and saw the one horse (A G’s Charlotte) moving well. I got behind her and made my move when she did, but when I got outside, my filly showed her class.”
Mishpachah shot out to the early lead, charging through the calls in :23.85 and :47.05. With the blinkers off, A G’s Charlotte stalked in mid-pack two-wide and came with a run to take the lead from Mishpachah in the homestretch. Nosilverspoonshere settled near the back, took the rail in pursuit, tipped out to target A G’s Charlotte, and rallied past to score. Mishpachah hung on for third. After taking a few bumps out of the gate and tracking in 5th, Free Like a Girl stayed on through the wire for fourth.
Brook Smith’s Rocket Ship Racing will be donating half of Nosilverspoonshere’s earnings in Sunday’s stakes to the Shantel Lanerie Foundation. Immediately following the race, Fair Grounds hosted The Breast Cancer Survivor and Memorial Second Line, benefiting the Shantel Lanerie Breast Cancer Foundation, as participants stepped in line behind a brass band to parade around the apron and raise money and awareness for a worthy cause.
Fort Polk, Winning Romance, Mo Bling, and Medley rounded out the finishing order.
Sent off as the 6-5 favorite, Nosilverspoonshere paid $4.40, $3.20, and $2.40.
She boosted her career record to 7-4-1-0 and earnings to $154,094.
Dominant Yet Again, Touchuponastar Takes Star Guitar Stakes
Star Guitar-sired exacta as Behemah Star up for second
Set-Hut’s Touchuponastar yet again proved to be too much, wiring the field in Sunday’s $75,000 Star Guitar Stakes presented by Brittlyn Stable at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots. The indisputable top older Louisiana-bred dirt male beat five others by 3 1/2 lengths, covering the 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.76.
Trained by Jeff Delhomme and ridden by Tim Thornton, Touchuponastar has now won five races in a row, three of those being stakes scores. Both the winner and the place-finisher, Behemah Star, are sired by the stakes namesake, Star Guitar.
“This horse makes my job easy,” Thornton said. “Jake and the Delhomme team have done such a good job with him. I am thankful and fortunate enough that I get to hold onto him.”
With little change in the running order throughout, Touchuponastar took the commanding lead, posting opening fractions of :24.44 and :48.29 while Highland Creek and Behemah Star chased in second and third, respectively. Behemah Star bid past Highland Creek in the second turn and gamely kept coming at Touchuponastar, but the winner’s powerful stride proved too much. Highland Creek held on for third and off-the-pace runner Blue Cheese scrambled home for fourth. Cosmic Train and Smarty Alex finished fifth and sixth, respectively.
“I think this is what anyone who owns and trains horses prays the good lord sends you,” owner Jake Delhomme said. “I’ve had a lot of average horses and every now and again you get lucky and we’ve got lucky with this. We’re going to take care of him and enjoy the ride.”
Touchuponastar was bet down to 1-2 and returned $3.00. $2.10, and $2.10. He boosted his career record to 8-6-1-1 and earnings to $298,100.
Big Chopper Slices Up Costa Rising Rail for Third Stakes Win At the Meet
First, it was the Louisiana Champions Day Sprint, next the Eddie Johnston Memorial turf route, and on Saturday, Kendel D. Standlee’s Big Chopper sprinted up the Stall-Wilson Turf Course rail to nose out a late charge from Brian’s Iron Mike in the $100,000 Costa Rising Stakes.
Trained by Scott Gelner, Big Chopper covered 5 1/2 turf furlongs in 1:05.70. The portable rail was at 28 feet and the course was listed as firm. Corey Lanerie handled the reins, one of three stakes wins for Lanerie on closing weekend.
Yankee Seven led the way, cruising through the early fractions in :23.06 and :47.84. Big Chopper positioned along the rail and never left, which proved to be the winning advantage as Brian’s Iron Mike raced wide and encountered trouble. Causing interference in mid-stretch, Bertie’s Galaxy was disqualified from third and placed in 6th place.
“This horse just keeps getting the job done,” Gelner said. “Corey gave him a great ride. I don’t know what Big Chopper does best but he’s good at everything and it’s great to have a horse like this. He’s run hard for us this meet and I’m going to give him a break. He deserves it. It’s nice to have options like this with a horse like this moving forward.”
As versatile as they come, Big Chopper has the $320,333 in lifetime earnings to prove it. His win in the Costa Rising was his sixth in 16 career starts.
Bron and Brow, Relentless Dancer, Yankee Seven, Feisty Fist, X Clown, and Vodka Gimlet completed the order of finish.
First I’ve Seen Scores First Stakes in Page Cortez
Charging home late into a pace meltdown, Tom Curtis’ First I’ve Seen upset the $75,000 Page Cortez for his first stakes score and first win on the turf. Going 5 1/2 furlongs on Sunday’s firm Stall-Wilson urf course, First I’ve Seen beat eight 3-year-old and up statebred fillies and mares by one length.
Trained by Victor Arceneaux and guided by Casey Fusilier, the 4-year-old First I’ve Seen stopped the clock in 1:06.93.
“Every time Victor comes through with a horse, I have a lot of confidence in him,” Fusilier said. “He’s an incredible trainer and we’ve had a helluva run.”
With the portable rail at 28 feet, Drop Dead Sexy cooked up the first quarter mile in :22.78 and continued on in front simmering through the half-mile marker in :48.74. The top three early on began to fade, in the end finishing up the track, as First I’ve Seen led the charge of late runners from mid-pack to lead at the stretch call. Snowball followed and appeared to have place-honors secured but was drilled by high-flying Wholelottamo who was in the back of the pack at the top of the stretch. Final Quest beat out the odds-on favorite Charlie T for fourth.
“This filly has been on the improve over her last couple of races,” Arceneaux said. “When we drew on the outside I was excited about that. I was a little nervous about all the speed on the inside but Casey (Fusilier) told me not to worry, we had it.”
World War, Beleout, Maestria, and Drop Dead Sexy completed the order of finish.
Dismissed at 10-1, First I’ve Seen rewarded her backers with payouts of $23.60, $11.20, and $5.40. The honest and versatile filly notched another in the win column, bringing her lifetime standings to 13-6-2-4 and earnings to $202,890.
Fans were treated to a thrilling 2023 edition of the $75,000 Edward J. Johnston Memorial as Big Chopper held off a fast-charging Who Took the Money for a nose victory. The versatile colt won the Louisiana Champions Day Sprint on dirt earlier in the meet.
Trained by Scott Gelner and ridden by Corey Lanerie, Big Chopper completed about one mile 1:42.18 over the “firm” Stall Wilson Turf Course with the rail remaining 34 feet out.
“There are not many like that that can change their style and run well at any distance,” Lanerie said. “Going into the race I really thought I would be the pace. But he broke within himself today and he relaxed. If he would have gotten any bit rank on the backside, someone would have run him down.”
The stretch battle began around the far turn when Big Chopper split front-running foes Maga Man and Mangelsen, who tallied early quarter-mile fractions of :25.78 and :52.05. Lanerie began to ask Big Chopper for his best run as Budro Talking came flying into the mix and Who took the Money gathered his run down the center of the course. Big Chopper gamely fought to stay in front of Budro Talking and as the wire neared, Who Took the Money surged forward in the photo’s flash, which showed only a nose difference between Big Chopper in first and the 1-2 favorite Who Took the Money in second. It was another nose back to Budro Talking in third.
“He got overlooked again today,” Gleaner said. “Every time I’ve run him here, people always say turf, and I’ve never had a chance to run him many times on the turf. Today he showed up and got it done. He can sprint or go long, dirt, or turf. He represents himself well. I didn’t know Eddie (Johnston) that well, but I knew him, and I was glad just to be in this race and honored to win it in his name.”
At 15-1 Big Chopper rewarded his backers with payouts of$33.60, $8.00, and $5.00.
After a mid-pack stalking trip, Smarty Alex finished fourth followed in order by Wicker Rose, Maga Man, Mangelsen, and Highland Creek.
Big Chopper improved his overall mark to 17-5-4-1 with earnings of $260,333. The 4-year-old son of Shackleford out of the Unusual Heat mare Miss Well Molded was bred in Louisiana by Kendel Standlee.
Patricia and Steve Roe’s Fort Polk overcame the field of eight fillies and mares in the stretch to win the 47th running of the $75,000 Red Camelia Stakes. Finishing less than a length shy of winning last year’s edition, this is the first turf stakes victory for Fort Polk, whose only other stake victory came in the Louisiana Champions Day Distaff on the dirt in 2021. The 7-year-old Louisiana-bred beat seven older fillies and mares by 1/2 length.
Piloted by Emanuel Nieves and trained by Pat Mouton, Fort Polk completed about one mile in 1:42.31 over the “firm” Stall Wilson Turf Course with the rail remaining 34 feet out.
“Everything worked out how we wanted it,” Nieves said. “I got in a good position, avoided traffic, and when I asked her, she was ready to go.”
Flashing speed from her outside draw, Cheapskate Diva fought for the lead in the early going and held it while setting opening fractions of :24.79 and :49.92. While three others chased the front-runner, Fort Polk found midpack position going three-wide, A G’s Charlotte saved ground on the rail behind her, and Wholelottamo kept her eyes on the field from the back. Fort Polk dug in eyeball-to-eyeball with Cheapskate Diva, bid past, and then had to fend off 9-5 favorite A G’s Charlotte’s bid from the rail. Wholelottamo came flying from the back but too late as Fort Polk got the best of the late-runners. A G’s Charlotte finished second, Wholelottamo in third, and Cheapskate Diva held on for fourth.
“It’s easier to win tough races like these when you’ve got the horse,” Mouton said. “She’s easy to train, responds well to it, and gives you her best all the time.”
Blessed Anna, Free Like a Girl, and Eve’s Delight completed the order of finish. Winning Romance was scratched after flipping in the paddock prior to the race.
Fort Polk was sent off at 9-2 and returned $11.60, $5.80, and $3.60. She boosted her career record to 41-10-7-11 and earnings to $384,460.
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 secondas 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.
A huge crowd convened June 4 at Evangeline Downs in Opelousas for the annual Louisiana Legends Night – a night of racing that is dedicated to the best fourlegged athletes in the Pelican State, which included six states races worth more than $450,000 in purse money. Jockey Jareth Loveberry and trainer Ron Faucheux teamed up to win two trophies while others continued to strive for greatness.