12/09/2006 12:00AM

Costa Rising hangs on in Classic


NEW ORLEANS - Costa Rising took command on the backstretch and stayed on determinedly Saturday to outlast Mean Butterbean by a head in the $150,000 Louisiana Champions Day Classic, one of seven Thoroughbred stakes on the day for Louisiana-breds.

Jockey Mario Reyes broke Costa Rising alertly from the outside post in the field of 10 and settled into second behind Capt. Rhon on the clubhouse turn. Entering the backstretch, Capt. Rhon bore out and Reyes guided Costa Rising to the rail, where he led the field through a half-mile in 47.84 seconds. Robby Albarado kept Mean Butterbean in touch with the leader going down the backstretch in third, while Badtotheboneandrew, who won this race last year, stayed close to the pace in fourth.

"I knew my only chance to beat Costa Rising was to stay close to him," said Albarado.

Costa Rising still had plenty left in the tank turning for home, and as Badtotheboneandrew flattened out, the only horse with a shot at Costa Rising was Mean Butterbean. But Reyes kept riding to the wire, and Costa Rising prevailed.

Badtotheboneandrew was third, 7 1/4 lengths behind Mean Butterbean.

Costa Rising finished 1 1/8 miles in 1:51.43 and returned $4.

Ladies: Nice timing by Blueyed Lass

In her six most recent starts, Blueyed Lass had four seconds, a third, and a fourth, but she picked a fabulous time for a breakthrough, scoring a hard-fought half-length win over longshot Cutie Sabrina in the Champions Day Ladies.

It was the first career stakes win for Blueyed Lass, a Sky Classic homebred owned by the Krantz Stable LLC.

Blueyed Lass ($11.20) tracked the hot pace of Calista Ridge, and a half-mile split of 47.41 seconds might have fried heavily favored Grand Facile, who pressed the early leader. Raspberry Wine made the first move for the lead, but Blueyed Lass collared her and held off Cutie Sabrina. Raspberry Wine was third.

Turf: Desert Wheat coasts

Desert Wheat ran down Mr. Sulu in deep stretch and pulled away to a 2 3/4-length victory in the Champions Day Turf. Jockey Corey Lanerie kept Desert Wheat at the rear of the field while saving ground as Zenato, Bodacious Bob, and Spruce's Prince battled through a half-mile in 48.59 seconds. Lanerie followed Robby Albarado's wide move on Mr. Sulu entering the stretch and wore that one down gradually before pulling away in the final yards. Chip Hunter caught Mr. Sulu in the final strides to finish second by a neck. Diggy Fresh was another nose back in fourth.

Desert Wheat covered the 1 1/16 miles in 1:45.31 and returned $5 as the favorite.

Juvenile: Tortuga Straits shows class

Technically, Tortuga Straits has won every race in his career, but no splitting of hairs is required to say this: Tortuga Straits is a very nice horse. Saturday, he won the Louisiana Champion's Day Juvenile by 1 1/4 lengths over a sharp Power Surge and still has never been beaten in a Louisiana-bred race.

Tortuga Straits's record will now read 5 for 5. He finished second by nine lengths going a mile in the Nov. 3 Jean Lafitte at Delta Downs, but was placed first when the winner was disqualified because illegal alkalizing agents were detected in a post race lab test. Saturday, Tortuga Straits required no outside assistance.

Tortuga Straits, ridden by Luis Quinonez for trainer Ralph Irwin, stumbled slightly and brushed lightly at the start, recovered, and raced wide while stalking Power Surge's early pace: 22.34 seconds for the opening quarter, 46.63 for the half. Quinonez asked for more half-way around the far turn and got it. Tortuga Straits moved quickly from fourth to second and had Power Surge measured at the top of the stretch. It took a furlong to get past, and Power Surge stayed on, but Tortuga Straits has the stretch stride of a game colt. He paid $3.60 to win as the heavy favorite, getting his six furlongs in a decent 1:11.15. Hallway, one of four Scott Blasi-trained starters, finished third.

Ladies Sprint: Mouton horses one-two

Longshots Carl's Frosty Girl and Ida Marie, an uncoupled entry saddled by trainer Patrick Moutin, finished one-two in the Ladies Sprint.

Destiny Calls and favorite Cajun Mistress engaged in a speed duel on the front end, with fractions of 21.75 and 45.43 seconds. Destiny Calls was finished at the top of the stretch, but Cajun Mistress kept going, only to be passed in the final yards by Carl's Frosty Girl, who finished a half-length ahead of 8-1 stablemate Ida Maria. Carl's Frosty Girl ran the six furlongs in 1:11.16 and returned $27.20.

Sprint: Meteor Impact pulls away late

Meteor Impact turned in a powerful stretch run in the Sprint to hand Brother Bean his first lifetime defeat.

Steve Bourque gunned Brother Bean to the lead in 21.56, with Jamie Theriot keeping Cort's P.B. just to his inside through a 44.97 half-mile. Meanwhile, Meteor Impact, under Kerwin Clark, tracked the leaders a length behind in third. Turning for home Meteor Impact pulled alongside Brother Bean, and the two slugged it out down the lane until Meteor Impact edged away late to win by a length, covering the six furlongs in 1:09.71. It was another 7 3/4 lengths back to Cort's P.B. in third. Meteor Impact paid $5.40.

Lassie: Huckie patiently handled

Huckie came from well off the pace to win the Lassie under a patient ride from Cody Meche.

Huckie was bumped by Leta Mae as they left the starting gate, and Meche allowed Huckie to settle in sixth place. Leta Mae took the field through a half-mile in 45.48, with Joangel tracking her in second. Huckie began her move toward the leaders on the turn, and when Meche set her down for the stretch drive, she ate up ground, hitting the front inside the final furlong and drawing away to a 5 1/4-length victory.

Joangel held off Zarb's Ballerina to finish second by a head. Leta Mae finished another neck back in fourth. Huckie covered the six furlongs in 1:12.38 and returned $6.40.

- additional reporting by Marcus Hersh