07/07/2013 10:40AM

Evangeline Downs: Populist Politics wins Louisiana Legends Classic


OPELOUSAS, La. – Populist Politics, exploiting a lively pace scenario under veteran rider Gerard Melancon, swept to the front turning for home to win Saturday night’s Louisiana Legends Classic at Evangeline Downs. The Classic was one of seven $100,000 stakes for Louisiana-breds on the meeting’s biggest evening.

Hud’s Rebellion finished a half-length back in second in the 1 1/16-mile Classic, closely followed by Arkansas Martini. Heavy On Themister, co-favored with Populist Politics, made a bid from the second flight in the final turn but weakened down the stretch to finish fifth.

Melancon was content to sit well behind early leaders Hit the Road Lee and Top Cat Boogie as they stepped through a quick 46.79-second opening half-mile. After three-quarters in 1:11.82, Melancon and Populist Politics swept to the front with a four-wide move turning for home, opened up a daylight advantage, then held Hud’s Rebellion and Arkansas Martini safe in the final strides, finishing in 1:47.83 on a fast track.

Populist Politics ($6), trained by Tom Amoss, won for the eighth time in 25 starts. The 5-year-old son of Don’t Get Mad has earned more than $550,000.

In the Legends Turf, String King avenged a narrow loss in last month’s John Franks Memorial at Louisiana Downs to Look At the Time with a convincing 3 3/4-length victory. Sadie’s Soldier finished second, while Look At the Time had to settle for third.

Ridden by Richard Eramia and trained by owner and breeder Charlie Smith, String King ($4.20) picked up his ninth career win. The 5-year-old Crowned King gelding has banked just under $460,000.

Louisiana native Mark Guidry had a huge evening, as the 53-year-old rider captured three stakes and a pair of maiden special weight races on the 12-race program. Guidry won the $75,000 Legends Starter Stakes aboard Well’s Gold ($10.40) for trainer Ralph Irwin and the two Legends Sprint events with Sittin At the Bar ($4.60) and Unitas ($20.20). Brett Brinkman trains both sprint winners.

Perhaps the most impressive performance of the night came from Sunbean in the Legends Mile for 3-year-olds. Ridden by Corey Lanerie, Sunbean ($4.40) stalked the early pace before powering clear by almost six lengths in 1:35.75, eclipsing the track record of 1:36.28 set by Ide Like a Double in the 2008 Evangeline Mile.

The two other stakes winners on the evening were Mischievous Mama ($9.20), who cruised home eight lengths the best under Don Simington in the Fillies Mile, and Little Ms Protocol ($3.60), whom Diego Saenz piloted to a 2 1/4-length victory in the Legends Distaff.