02/16/2008 1:00AM

Fair Grounds: Elliecat pulls $159 upset


Elliecat wired the field at long odds in the Chou Croute Handicap at Fair Grounds, holding on to win by a neck and paying $159.40.

Trained by Dallas Keen and ridden by Lonnie Meche, Elliecat went 1 1/16 miles in 1:45.51. She earned $36,000 of the $60,000 purse for owners Ywachetta and James Driver.

There was little in her form to suggest that she was ready to fire, but Keen had excuses for her last two trips. Two races ago, at Remington she got into a speed duel and tired. Last race, they tried holding her back to give her a chance to close, and she never fired at all.

But she put it all together on Saturday, going to the front and setting slow fractions of 24.28 and 47.63 seconds. She was clear by two lengths in the stretch and hit the wire a neck in front of the favorite, Unforgotten. The exacta paid $527.20.

Earlier, in the $60,000 Happy Ticket Stakes, Sax Appeal raced three wide, sitting just off the pace before taking over in midstretch and just holding off entrymate Hisse to win by a head

Sax Appeal, ridden by James Graham, went the six furlongs in 1:11.09, and paid $5 to win.

The first and second finishers were a coupled entry, trained by Steve Asmussen and owned by Heiligbrodt Racing Stable. The duo avenged their defeat at the hands of Very Sexcessful in the Louisiana Futurity. Very Sexcessful, the odds-on favorite Saturday, was left at the break and finished fourth.