09/29/2008 11:00PM

Autobeacat eyes Champions Day at Fair Grounds


Autobeacat, who has risen from $20,000 claimer to $100,000 stakes winner over the course of the Louisiana Downs meet, is targeting the Louisiana Champions Day program at Fair Grounds this winter, said his trainer, Eric Heitzmann.

"I do have the Classic in mind," said Heitzmann.

Autobeacat would be one of the favorites in the Classic, a 1 1/8-mile race for Louisiana-breds that leads the Champions Day card Dec. 13. The race is one of three on the rich statebred program for which Autobeacat could run. Heitzmann said Autobeacat is also an early nominee to the $100,000 Turf and the $50,000 Starter.

Autobeacat has won on dirt and turf this meet at Louisiana Downs. In his first start of the meet, he won a $20,000 claiming route on dirt June 8. Autobeacat came back and picked up a $50,000 optional claimer for statebreds at two turns July 3, then moved to turf for the $100,000 Shiskabob and was second, beaten a head by Diggy Fresh.

One start later, Autobeacat turned the tables on Diggy Fresh and won the $106,000 World Series of Poker Stakes on turf Aug 23. He then returned to dirt for the $150,000 Tiznow Handicap on the Super Derby undercard Sept. 20, and he ran a big second, finishing 1 3/4 length behind race winner Jonesboro.

"He ran his eyeballs out," said Heitzmann. "It took a multiple graded stakes winner to beat him. We were thrilled to death with him."

Heitzmann trains Autobeacat for Valene Farms. The horse has contributed to Heitzmann's strong meet at Louisiana Downs, where he's gone 10 for 41.

Ice's first winner pays $109

Tim Ice picked up his first winner as a trainer last Friday at Louisiana Downs, when Amber Star won the fifth race, a $7,500 maiden claimer, and paid $109.80. The horse was moving to two turns after finishing ninth in a maiden claiming sprint in his debut Aug. 29.

"He definitely needed two turns," said Ice, 34. "The horse is such a big horse, a long-striding horse. I just think he's a horse that is going to grind it out."

Amber Star races for K.K. and Vilasini Jayaraman, for whom Ice has seven horses in training. Overall, he has a 12-horse stable based at Louisiana Downs.

Ice has worked regularly on the circuit for years, since going to work as a groom for trainer Bill Stice at Louisiana Downs in 1993. He has worked since as an assistant to trainers Keith Desormeaux, Morris Nicks, and Cole Norman. Ice was introduced to racing by his stepfather, trainer Frank Rapp.

Ice began training in June at Louisiana Downs. After a handful of second-place finishes, he broke through with his 16th starter.

"It was exciting," said Ice. "It was a lot of fun."

Ice is determining where to base his stable at the close of Louisiana Downs on Oct. 18. He has applied for stalls at Fair Grounds.

Fillies top sale at $65,000

A pair of yearling fillies brought $65,000 each on Monday to top the annual yearling auction put on by the Breeders Sales Co. of Louisiana. Both were Louisiana-breds, and the first to sell was a daughter of Lemon Drop Kid. She was purchased by Tony Richey, agent for Oak Leaf. Red River Farm consigned the unnamed filly, who is out of the Majestic Light mare Royal Flex.

Lee Young bought the other sales-topper, purchasing a daughter of Leestown from Red River Farm, agent for Jay Adcock and Neal McFadden. She is out of the With Approval mare Bussalma, who has produced stakes winners Caribean Sea, a champion in the Dominican Republic, and We'll Sea Ya.

There were 171 horses sold Monday for gross receipts of $2,086,300. The average was $12,201. There were 87 horses who did not meet their reserves during the sale, which was held in West Monroe, La.

Firster for Smarty Jones, Miss Seffens

Hey Smarty, a 2-year-old colt by Smarty Jones and out of Miss Seffens, will make his career debut in the 10th race Thursday.

He is trained by Steve Wren, who sent out Miss Seffens to five stakes wins and $502,000 in earnings. The race is one of five for 2-year-olds on Thursday's card.

* Jockey Pat Valenzuela was two wins from career victory 4,000 heading into the races Thursday.