12/08/2007 1:00AM

Costa Rising turns Classic into a rout

EmailIf it appeared on paper like Costa Rising couldn't lose the Louisiana Champions Day Classic, Costa Rising did nothing to contradict that appearance in reality, making short work of four overmatched rivals in the $150,000 race.

Costa Rising had eked out a narrow win in the race last year, but this one was all over early. With the other two speed horses scratched out of the Classic in favor of the Sprint, Costa Rising coasted on an easy early lead and left his opponents far behind in the stretch, drawing clear through the final quarter-mile to score a 15 1/4-length victory.

"His kick is awesome," said winning trainer Glenn Delahoussaye. "I think he's one of the best Louisiana-breds ever."

That may well be the case. Still just a 4-year-old, Costa Rising has his current crop of older route rivals over a barrel at this point. He won for the fifth time in seven starts this year, and now has won 11 of his 17 races on dirt. His $90,000 share of the purse Saturday pushed him past $871,000 in career earnings. Delahoussaye and owner Charles Castille have their eye on the $1 million mark.

Costa Rising and jockey Robby Albarado broke on top, and with Albarado letting Costa Rising drift off the fence, Southern Invasion and Gerard Melancon briefly came through on the rail to challenge for the lead, but by the time Costa Rising left the clubhouse turn, he was back in front - for good.

"It was almost a gallop for him," Albarado said.

Costa Rising ($2.80) was timed in 1:50.76 for 1 1/8 miles. Hallway finished second, followed by Lash, Grand Minit, and Southern Invasion. Show wagering was canceled on the race.

Sprint: Fass Feat's feet are fastest

Fass Feat looked like he'd been pointed to the Champions Day Sprint for weeks, if not months, and trainer Emile Schwandt had him at this best for the $100,000 race. Taking over at the top of the stretch, Fass Feat never was challenged thereafter, going on to a sharp win over favored Tortuga Straits.

Fass Feat, winning his second stakes race, was ridden by Kerwin Clark, who had been taken off Costa Rising for the Champions Day Classic. Fass Feat was timed in 1:10.62, and paid $16.40 to win.

- additional reporting by Abram Himelstein