08/21/2008 12:00AM

Diggy Fresh holds the cards in stakes


The owner Bobby Asaro was in Las Vegas earlier this month when Diggy Fresh won the $100,000 Shiskabob at Louisiana Downs. Saturday, Diggy Fresh could send him back to Nevada if he wins the $100,000 World Series of Poker Stakes at Louisiana Downs. Part of the winning owner's take in the about 1 1/16-mile turf race is a free entry into the World Series of Poker tournament next summer at the Rio Las Vegas.

Diggy Fresh has a good chance to secure the $10,000 berth for Asaro. He will start as a top contender in a 10-horse field that includes Kentucky invader Wise River. Diggy Fresh won the Shiskabob for Louisiana-breds under regular rider Gerard Melancon on Aug. 2.

"I'd have to take a crash course in poker," the owner quipped. "Gerard is an excellent poker player. I wouldn't know what to do if I got a royal flush."

Asaro does know how to play the claiming game. He took Diggy Fresh for $16,000 at Louisiana Downs on July 6. One start later, the horse, who is trained by Keith Bourgeois, won his second Shiskabob.

"I had him in my stable mail and had been following him all summer," Asaro said. "He's a big, good-looking horse. I knew he had tons of back class. I felt like he was worth a gamble."

Diggy Fresh, 7, went over the $300,000 mark in earnings with his head win in the Shiskabob. He is the latest Louisiana-bred of note owned by Asaro, 51, who also raced Caro's Royalty, an earner of $587,743, and Genuine Meaning, who won the Louisiana Champions Day Classic in 1992.

Diggy Fresh closed from next-to-last in the Shiskabob, run at the same distance of the World Series of Poker. He could get a decent pace setup again, behind front-runners Point Gold, Ball Hall, and perhaps Wise River, who worked a fast five furlongs in preparation for his first start since July 3.

Wise River was second to the Grade 1-placed A.P. Xcellent in an $80,000 optional claiming race at 1 1/16 miles on turf at Churchill Downs on June 12. One start later, he was seventh at the same level after pushing the pace. Francisco Torres has the mount for trainer Clark Hanna.

Others in the field include stakes winner Passport, who won the allowance prep for the World Series of Poker Stakes for trainer Al Stall Jr., and Autobeacat, who was second in the Shiskabob for trainer Eric Heitzmann.