05/29/2013 12:50PM

Evangeline Downs: Sittin At the Bar back with Louisiana-breds for Acadiana

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OPELOUSAS, La. – After squaring off against graded stakes company in two of her last three starts, Sittin At the Bar returns to a more friendly environment Friday night as she takes on seven Louisiana-bred 3-year-old fillies in the $50,000 Acadiana Stakes at Evangeline Downs.

The Brett Brinkman-trained Sittin At the Bar will likely go favored in the seven-furlong race.

Sandwiched between a fifth-place finish in the Grade 3 Honeybee Stakes at Oaklawn Park in early March and a sixth-place performance in the Grade 3 Eight Belles at Churchill Downs on the Kentucky Oaks undercard, Sittin At the Bar defeated fellow statebreds in the Crescent City Oaks at Fair Grounds. It was that victory that punched Sittin At the Bar’s ticket to Churchill during Derby week.

“That spot at Churchill had been our plan for some time,” Brinkman said. “We felt we had that kind of filly, but she never really settled in the race. We were hoping for an outside post but drew the inside and she was covered up the whole way. She never got a chance to relax. Shaun [Bridgmohan] had to let her out a notch up the backstretch to maintain position, and she just jumped into the bit. She got to the leaders and fought, but she had already run her race and they came and got us.”

Still, Sittin At the Bar was beaten just 2 1/2 lengths in the Eight Belles, and Brinkman’s comments about her trip were echoed in the official chart. The comment on her performance reads “Hemmed in, bid, tired.”

“It’s all about getting her to shut down early,” Brinkman said. “When she does, she fires, and that is what we are hoping for Friday night.”

Brinkman went on to say that it was not a foregone conclusion that the Acadiana was in Sittin At the Bar’s future after returning from Kentucky.

“We were going to give her 30 days, but after 10, we couldn’t keep her on the ground. Our ultimate goal this summer is the hundred grander [Louisiana Legends Fillies Mile] in July, but this is a good spot. You only have so many opportunities to run against 3-year-olds.”

Sittin At the Bar will be reunited with jockey Mark Guidry on Friday. Guidry piloted Sittin At the Bar to a pair of stakes wins at Fair Grounds last December.

“Mark is a good fit,” Brinkman said. “He gets her to relax early, and that is the big key for her.”

While she looks formidable, Sittin At the Bar is hardly a slam dunk. Among her opponents are Ante Up Annie, a three-time winner including the Sarah Lane’s Oates Stakes at Fair Grounds over the winter; fellow stakes winner Miss Goodthing, victorious in the Louisiana Cup Juvenile Fillies at Louisiana Downs last summer; Mischievous Mama, a close second behind Sittin At the Bar in the Crescent City Oaks and the easiest of winners in allowance company at Louisiana Downs four weeks ago; and Coin Toss, victorious against allowance rivals at Lone Star Park in her most recent start.

◗ In addition to the Acadiana, there are four turf races on the 11-race program. Included on the grass docket is an interesting starter-optional affair that drew a competitive field of 12 in race 6 and an entry-level allowance that will immediately precede the Acadiana.