GI Belmont S.-winning conditioner Brad Cox grabbed one more stakes win for the road Sunday as unbeaten Australasia rallied past rivals to earn a first black-type victory out of Louisiana-bred company. An 8 1/4-length MSW winner at Fair Grounds last November, the dark bay reeled off a pair of dominant stakes scores at Delta Downs before annexing the two-turn Crescent City Oaks back in NOLA Mar. 20. She picked up another big check when shortening up for a GI Kentucky Oaks day allowance at Churchill Apr. 30, but was facing four talented foes who each owned a recent figure edge over her.
Australasia caboosed the field early after a brief delay when favorite Miss Brazil broke through the gate. Bella Sofia clicked off splits of :22.55 and :45.68 and the chalk challenged that one in upper stretch as Australasia still had work to do out wide. It still looked like it’d be one of those two to midstretch, but Australasia soon caught the eye and came flying with a well-timed ride to score by a widening margin.
VINTON, LA. – In the first of two stakes hosted by Delta Downs Tuesday afternoon, Jean Etinne Dubois’s Australasia won the $75,000 Louisiana Jewel.
The win by Australasia came in smashing style as the Brad Cox trainee pressed the early pace set by Taylor Avenue and others before taking off in the lane under jockey Diego Saenz and winning by a widening six lengths.
The pace of the race was solid as Taylor Avenue, Inawic and Non Binding all vied for the early lead while covering the opening quarter mile in 23.49 seconds and the half in 48.52. As the field entered the second turn of the race, Australasia took command and never looked back, recording the easy win. Inawic stayed on for second while Tecate Time rallied for third, another 3 ¼-lengths behind the runner up.
Australasia covered the 7-1/2 furlongs of the Louisiana Jewel in a time of 1:34.35 while racing over a fast track.
Now undefeated in two lifetime starts, Australasia has a bankroll of $73,200 after earning $45,000 for her effort in the first stakes race of her career. She broke her maiden at first asking on November 26 at Fair Grounds Race Course in New Orleans.
Australasia is a 3-year-old dark bay or brown filly by Sky Kingdom, out of the Tiznow mare Ayala Strand. She was bred in Louisiana by J. Adcock & Hume Wornall.
Sent to the gate as the odds-on favorite at odds of 2-5, Australasia paid $2.80 to win, $2.20 to place and $2.10 to show. Inawic was worth $10.20 to place and $7 to show. Tecate Time returned $3.60 to show.
Spring Fever Stakes
Oaklawn Park, 2-29-20, 5.5 furlongs
Four-Year-Olds and Upwards, Fillies and Mares, $125,000
Midnight Lute-St. Jean
Breeder: J. Adcock & Hume Wornall
Owner: Carl R. Moore Management LLC
Trainer: Joe Sharp
Jockey: Martin Garcia
2nd Amy’s Challenge
Artie Schiller-Jump Up
Breeder: Sierra Farm (KY)
Owner: Novogratz Racing Stable Inc.
Trainer: McLean Robertson
Jockey: Alex L. Canchari
3rd What A Fox
Breeder: Gary & Mary West Stables Inc (KY)
Owner: Lawrence P. Roman
Trainer: Robertino Diodoro
Jockey: Orlando Mojica
Carl R. Moore Management LLC’s Midnight Fantasy gained the lead at the top of the stretch and had just enough left to hold off defending champion Amy’s Challenge by a neck in Saturday’s $125,000 Spring Fever Stakes before a crowd of 20,000.
Ridden by Martin Garcia, Midnight Fantasy settled behind the early leaders in fourth as Mt. Brave held a narrow advantage through opening fractions of :21.43 and :45.10 for the first half mile. The winner began to make her move rounding the turn for home and was well clear of the field until Amy’s Challenge rallied late. She completed the 5 ½ furlongs in 1:03.61 over a fast track.
“She was doing really good,” Garcia said. “That was exactly where I wanted to be. I was able to stay on the outside and when I asked her to go, she just took off. It was really nice.”
What a Fox finished third and was followed by Mt. Brave, Artistic Diva and 4-5 favorite Break Even.
The victory was the second of the day for owner Carl Moore and trainer Joe Sharp and third for jockey Martin Garcia.
When asked if he expected to win two races Saturday, Moore replied, “No. I was just hoping to hit the board twice. It was a tough race. I mean that race right there, she beat some good horses. She ran huge. Joe (Sharp) and I, we talked about it (Spring Fever) and we saw it up here. The distance – she likes 5 1/2 (furlongs). I think she’ll stretch out and go farther, too. We’re trying to decide. She’s doing so good short.”
Midnight Fantasy, a 4-year-old Midnight Lute filly, improved her record to 5-3-0 in 12 career starts and has now earned $327,180. She returned $19.40, $6.60 and $3.80 at odds of 8-1.
Live racing resumes Sunday with a 1:30 p.m. first post.