03/31/2012 4:52PM

Fair Grounds: Artemus Kitten holds off Upperline in Bayou

Hodges Photography/Lou Hodges Jr.
Rosie Napravnik guides Artemus Kitten to victory in the Bayou Handicap.

NEW ORLEANS – Had she not run into traffic trouble, Artemus Kitten might have won the first stakes race of her career in the Feb. 4 Jersey Lily at Sam Houston, but the 4-year-old filly quickly made up for that missed chance by scoring a narrow victory over favored Upperline in the $98,000 Bayou Handicap on Saturday at Fair Grounds.

Trained by Mike Maker for owners and breeders Ken and Sarah Ramsey, Artemus Kitten dropped inside rivals for the stretch run under Rosie Napravnik, took a one-length lead at the stretch call, and held off a belated bid from Upperline, who appeared to be struggling coming into the home stretch but rallied gamely in the final furlong.

Artemus Kitten won a first-level turf allowance race here in January, and has improved steadily through the winter.

“Mentally, she’s mellowed out a lot,” said assistant trainer Joe Sharp. “She was kind of nervous when she first got down here.”

Vera Belle set a moderate pace, going her opening half-mile in 48.75 seconds with Upperline, who was making her first start since October, raced nearest the leader, but when jockey James Graham asked Upperline to close the gap coming into the homestretch, the 4-5 favorite spun her wheels. Finally, long after straightening away, Upperline found her rhythm, but by then it was too late to catch the winner.

“At the quarter pole, I thought we were going to be fifth,” said trainer Mike Stidham.

Bet on the Blue finished third but was almost four lengths behind the runner-up. Artemus Kitten paid $7.60 and was timed in 1:44.89 for about 1 1/16 miles on turf rated good.

Crescent City Oaks: She’s Prado’s Idol cruises

She’s Prado’s Idol probably would have won the Sarah Lane’s Oates Stakes on March 3 with any sort of a favorable trip, but she was stuck behind horses and steadied several times, and finished second by a nose.

Saturday, in the Crescent City Oaks, She’s Prado’s Idol’s owner-trainer Garland Goins took no chances. New rider Tracy Hebert let the filly run out the gate and contest the pace, and She’s Prado’s Idol pulled away from her eight rivals in the stretch run to win by 4 ¼  lengths.

She paid $15.20 to win and ran one mile 70 yards on a fast track in 1:43.80.

Little Miss Protol finished second, while the heavily favored entry of Sunday’s Child and Bleu Darling checked in third and fourth.

Red Camelia: Beverly Bell connects at 43-1

Beverly Belle scored a 43-1 shocker in the $60,000 Red Camelia Stakes, nailing pacesetting odds-on favorite Little Polka Dot in deep stretch and going on to a one-length victory. Beverly Belle ($88.80) was ridden to victory by Miguel Mena for trainer Bret Calhoun and owner Morris Hewitt.