03/28/2013 3:09PM

Fair Grounds: Heavy On Themister can remain leader of the pack in Costa Rising

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Heavy On Themister comes in the Costa Rising off two victories, including this score in the Premier Night Championship at Delta Downs.

NEW ORLEANS – Heavy On Themister has a chance to solidify his position as the top older Louisiana-bred in training when he races in the Costa Rising Stakes on Saturday at the Fair Grounds.

With all-time leading Louisiana-bred money winner Star Guitar off to stud, Heavy On Themister has asserted himself as the leader of the division.

“He’s really been training well,’’ trainer Shawn David said. “He seems to be a horse that just continues to develop.’’

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Heavy On Themister began a five-race run of strong performances in stakes with a second-place finish, three-quarters of a length behind Star Guitar, in the Louisiana Legends Classic last June at Evangeline Downs. Star Guitar, in what turned out to be his last career start, set a track record for a mile and a sixteenth.

In August, Heavy On Themister set an Evangeline Downs track record for a mile (1:36.38) in a victory in open company in the Evangeline Mile. Since finishing third in the Gold Cup at Delta Downs in October, Heavy On Themister has won his last two starts – the Louisiana Champions Day Classic at the Fair Grounds in December and the Premier Night Championship at Delta Downs in February.

“I don’t know if he necessarily prefers it, but some of his best races have been over at Evangeline,’’ David said.

David said he’d like to set a racing schedule for Heavy On Themister similar to Star Guitar’s schedule in the last two years, when Star Guitar stayed mainly with Louisiana-breds and piled up the dollars. A 5-year-old gelding, Heavy On Themister needs to make his money on the track.

In the $60,000, mile-and-a-sixteenth Costa Rising, Heavy On Themister will be ridden by James Graham.

Heavy On Themister will be facing five rivals.

The consistent money-maker Populist Politics, trained by Tom Amoss, was edged by Star Guitar in the Costa Rising last year. Populist Politics, whose only out-of-the-money finish in eight Fair Grounds starts came in the Champions Day Classic last year, is coming off a rout of allowance/optional-claiming rivals Feb. 24.

Others in the field are Lee’s Spirit, who won the Gold Cup last year; the graded-placed gelding Get in Da House, whose last two races were in open starter allowance/claiming company; Champions Day Classic runner-up Watch My Smoke, who will be making his first start since being claimed by trainer Ron Faucheux; and likely pace pusher Top Cat Boogie, coming off a runner-up finish behind Su Casa G Casa in the Premier Night Sprint.

In other Louisiana-bred stakes on the Louisiana Derby Day card, 3-year-olds will be running a mile and a sixteenth in the Crescent City Derby, and 3-year-old fillies will be racing a mile and 70 yards in the Crescent City Oaks.

In the Crescent City Derby, Hero Force will be running his longest race. He won the 7 1/2-furlong Pelican and seven-furlong Premier Night Prince over the six-furlong oval at Delta Downs in his last two starts. Hero Force will be running at the Fair Grounds for the first time since winning the Champions Day Juvenile in early December.

“I think it’s obviously a different race on a one-mile racetrack compared to a three-quarter-mile one,” trainer Bret Calhoun said. “But the main thing is, this horse has really matured now and figured everything out.’’

Hero Force used to wait on horses, Calhoun said, but in the Premier Night Prince, the colt was drawing away at the finish. “I don’t think the distance will be an issue,’’ Calhoun said.

Others in the nine-horse field include Skinny, on a three-race winning streak and making his stakes debut for trainer Steve Asmussen, and Hopeful Notion, a Wes Hawley trainee who finished second to Sunbean in the Gentilly and second to Skinny in allowance/optional-claiming company.

Ante Up Annie was double-entered in the Crescent City Oaks and Fair Grounds Oaks, but is expected to run in the latter race. With her out, eight fillies are expected in the Crescent City Oaks.

Sittin At the Bar, returns to Louisiana-bred company for trainer Brett Brinkman after finishing fifth in the Grade 3 Honeybee at Oaklawn Park. She won the Champions Day Lassie and Louisiana Futurity at this meet and finished second in the Premier Night Starlet at Delta Downs.

Mucho Mans Gold, trained by Calhoun, is coming off a runner-up finish behind Ante Up Annie in the Sarah Lane’s Oates, which was switched from turf to dirt.