07/27/2010 2:04PM

Category Seven may face males at Louisiana Downs

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Category Seven keeps getting better, and before the year is out, she could see Grade 1 action. Trainer Kenneth Hargrave said the mare’s fall objective is the $400,000 First Lady at Keeneland on Oct. 9. But first, Category Seven could meet males at her home base of Louisiana Downs.

Category Seven has won her last four starts, including the $50,000 Matron at Evangeline on Saturday. It was her second straight stakes win behind the $50,000 Top Corsage at Louisiana Downs on July 3. Hargrave, who trains Category Seven for James Perron Racing Stable, said the mare could run next in the $50,000 Shiskabob at a mile on turf Aug. 28.

“The River Cities, it’s about eight or nine weeks away, so we’re kind of contemplating running against the boys in the Shiskabob,” Hargrave said. “I’m not quite sure yet.”

The River Cities, which is the next open-company filly and mare turf stakes at Louisiana Downs, runs on the Super Derby undercard Sept. 25. Category Seven began her current win streak on May 14, winning an allowance at Evangeline Downs. A month later, she took another allowance at Louisiana Downs and then won the track’s Top Corsage. In the Matron, she covered a mile on turf in a sharp 1:35.

“She got in a little trouble in that race,” Hargrave said of the Matron. “She kind of got blocked in around the second turn, had to wait a little bit. She came out of the race real good and happy.

“She’s a little bit bigger this year, a little stronger. She’s really started coming into herself. She’s just getting better.”

Category Seven is a 5-year-old mare by the Storm Cat stallion Gulf Storm. She was bred in Florida. Category Seven has won 12 of 38 career starts and $341,827.

Claim box heating up

Louisiana Downs has been averaging 1.2 claims a day at the meet, but Sunday exceeded the norm when three horses were claimed. There were two taken for $12,500 each and a third for $5,000. Overall, it was a good weekend for commerce between stables. On Saturday, there was a $25,000 claim, more than double the meet’s average claim price of $11,065.

Claiming activity has been down at some tracks in the region due in part to the sluggish economy. At the current meet, there have been 61 claims for $675,000 in transactions, according to figures provided by the Louisiana Racing Commission. The figures cover the first 48 dates of the meet at Louisiana Downs.

First to Bingo heads La.-bred feature

First to Bingo, who split a tough field in the $50,000 Barksdale at Louisiana Downs on July 3, returns to the overnight ranks for the eighth on Thursday. A $12,500 optional claimer with first-level allowance conditions, the race will be run at a mile on turf. It is restricted to 3-year-olds and up bred in Louisiana.

First to Bingo rallied for sixth in the Barksdale, beaten three lengths. He was forced to steady in the race, which was for open company. First to Bingo earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 81, which is the best last-race number in Thursday’s field. Don Simington has the mount for Israel Flores and trainer Tony Richey.

The full field also includes Catofninelives, who has won his last two starts by a combined margin of 16 lengths. Both were off-the-turf conditioned claimers at Louisiana Downs. Tracy Hebert has the mount for trainer Jerry Hardin.

Smitty’s Moonshine, a half-brother to multiple stakes winners Smitty’s Sunshine and Fuse It, will be returning to the overnight ranks Thursday after finishing third in the $50,000 Acclaim at Evangeline. Jockey Richard Eramia takes over for Pat Valenzuela, who has moved his tack to Del Mar.

Morris Nicks trains Smitty’s Moonshine.

◗ There will be a stakes double for 2-year-olds on Saturday. The $50,000 Laurel Lane and $50,000 Stardust will both be run at six furlongs. The races are restricted to horses bred in Louisiana.