Updated on 09/17/2011 9:36PM

Crimson Stag takes Crescent City

Lou Hodges Jr.
Crimson Stag, Robby Albarado up, wins the $75,000 Crescent City Derby for Louisiana-bred 3-year-olds Saturday at Fair Grounds Race Course.

NEW ORLEANS - Crimson Stag turned in a determined performance Saturday at Fair Grounds to win the $75,000 in front-running fashion over Zarb's Music Man.

Jockey Robby Albarado used a slightly different strategy with Crimson Stag than in previous races, sending the 4-5 favorite to the lead out of the gate. Zarb's Music Man broke alertly, then was taken back to last by jockey E.J. Perrodin.

Crimson Stag set a hot pace, running the first quarter in 23.51 seconds and a half in 46.95, with Prince T. and St. Roch bearing down on him. Going around the far turn, Crimson Stag remained under heavy pressure from Prince T. and St. Roch, who forced him to run six furlongs in 1:12.60. Albarado kept Crimson Stag on the rail going into the stretch, repulsing the challenge of Prince T. as Perrodin fanned wide on the rallying Zarb's Music Man and Donnie Meche sent Surgeon of Choice into contention.

Crimson Stag dug in through the stretch, holding off the rallying Zarb's Music Man by a length while covering the 1 1/16 miles in 1:46.77. Prince T. was another 4 1/2 lengths back in third, a head in front of Surgeon of Choice. Witness to a Fight, Jake's No Angel, and St. Roch completed the order of finish.

"He was very game," Albarado said of Crimson Stag, "but he still has that sprint mentality. I think that he can learn how to stretch out, because he kept giving me more down the lane."

Trainer Dallas Stewart also noticed room for improvement.

"The last eighth of a mile he started weaving in and out," said Stewart. "He doesn't really like the whip. He hit him with it left-handed and he came out, then he hit him right-handed and he ducked in."

Crimson Stag paid $3.80 to win.