03/24/2012 6:34PM

Fair Grounds: Dead heat in Happy Ticket

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Hodges Photography/Lynn Roberts
Speedacious (left), with Miguel Mena riding, and Inspired, Shaun Bridgmohan up, hit the wire together in the Happy Ticket.

There was no doubting the two best fillies in the Happy Ticket Stakes: Speedacious and Inspired finished almost six lengths ahead of the third-place horse. But between those two there was nothing, and the $72,750 Happy Ticket Stakes, rained from turf onto dirt Saturday at Fair Grounds will go down as a tie.

At different points in the stretch run, both fillies looked like a fairly certain winner. Inspired, setting fractions of 22.37 seconds for the opening quarter-mile and 45.26 for the first half, spurted clear of the other front-runners at the top of the stretch, opening a lead of a couple of lengths. Then Speedacious got going, and with a full head of steam she rallied up to Inspired's side, apparently poised to run past her inside the sixteenth pole. Instead, Inspired fought back, heads bobbed simultaneously, and a photo finish failed to separate the pair.

Speedacious, ridden to victory by Miguel Mena for owner Carl Moore and trainer Bret Calhoun, and Inspired, ridden to victory by Shaun Bridgmohan for owner Peter Blum and trainer Allen Iwinski, stopped the timer in 1:03.78 for 5 1/2 furlongs. Speedacious, who broke a touch slowly and had a spot of traffic before the half-mile pole, paid $2.40. Inspired, winning her third race in a row while shipping from Florida to New Orleans for the second time this meet, returned $2.60. Smarty's Emperoress finished third.

Bourbon Courage now 2 for 2

One race after the Happy Ticket, 3-year-old Bourbon Courage followed up on a fast debut win last month with an equally impressive score over first-level allowance foes. On the lead in his first start, Bourbon Courage rated comfortably behind three horses while several lengths off the lead, moving into contention midway around the far turn and sweeping to a decisive score under C.J. McMahon. Bourbon Courage was timed in a swift 1:09.42 for six furlongs even though he was asked for nothing the final half-furlong.