02/19/2011 7:27PM

Expansion prevails in three-horse photo to pull 32-1 surprise in New Orleans Handicap

Lou Hodges Jr.
Expansion pays $66.40 after ending a nine-race losing streak under Gerard Melancon in the New Orleans Handicap.

Expansion, with Gerard Melancon up, emerged from out of nowhere to pull a 32-1 upset in a three-horse photo Saturday in the 24th running of the Grade 3, $125,000 Fair Grounds Handicap in New Orleans.

A recent transfer within the Steve Asmussen stable after an unproductive start to his winter in Southern California, Expansion suddenly reversed form by blazing down the center of the Fair Grounds turf course, finding the front in the desperate final yards to prevail by a head. Dubious Miss, always part of a slow pace, was just another nose back in third in a field of nine older horses.

Expansion, owned by Millennium Farms and Mike McCarty, returned $66.40 as the second-longest shot in the field after finishing the about 1 1/8-mile distance in 1:54.94 over a course rated good.

Workin for Hops led most of the way on slow fractions but was gradually overtaken down the stretch by Dubious Miss, who held grimly on the lead from inside the eighth pole before Expansion and Sleepless Knight, the 3-1 favorite, went past nearing the wire.

The victory was the first for Expansion, a 6-year-old Kentucky-bred horse by Maria’s Mon, since he took the Grade 2 Red Smith at Aqueduct in November, ending a nine-race losing streak. In all, he has won 5 of 26 starts and earned $466,110.

Expansion worked seven furlongs on the Santa Anita turf before being sent east by Asmussen assistant Scott Blasi.

“Scott did a great job getting the horse ready out in California,” said Asmussen.