12/08/2012 6:35PM

Fair Grounds: Heavy On Themister up to Champions Day Classic challenge

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Lou Hodges Jr.
Heavy On Themister fights his way to victory in the Champions Day Classic victory under Rosie Napravnik, who won three of the day's stakes.

NEW ORLEANS – Heavy On Themister, short in stature but large in determination, fought off Watch My Smoke down the Fair Grounds stretch Saturday to win the Louisiana Champions Day Classic by a length.

“He’s a gutsy little sucker,” said Shawn David, who trains Heavy On Themister, a 4-year-old gelding by Lion Tamer, for owners Allen and Susan Savoie and T.J. Dickey.

Jockey Rosie Napravnik, who won three stakes on the day, gave Heavy On Themister a stalking trip in the $150,000 race for older Louisiana-breds. He tracked long shot Fate’s Right Hand through a moderate early pace – 23.94 seconds for the first quarter, 48.88 for the half, and 1:13.72 for six furlongs.

Turning into the stretch, Heavy On Themister put away Fate’s Right Hand. Watch My Smoke, who raced close behind behind Heavy On Themister all the way, couldn’t gain ground late but held off late-running Get In Da House by a length for second.

Heavy On Themister ran the mile and an eighth in 1:53.00 and paid $12.

He’s a homebred, foaled at the Savoies’ Rebecca Farms. “We raised him,” Dickey said. “We foaled him in Thibodaux. He won as a heavyweight today. That means a lot.”

Heavy On Themister and Lee’s Spirit, who finished fourth, were co-high-weights at 124 pounds under the allowance conditions of the race.

Heavy On Themister, who has won five of 14 starts, won the Evangeline Mile in open company last summer at Evangeline Downs. In his last start, he finished third in the Gold Cup at Delta Downs, four lengths behind winner Lee’s Spirit.

“We felt he was pretty fit coming into the last one,’’ David said. “He kind of got pinned down on the inside.’’

In the Classic, Heavy On Themister had a clean trip and the heart to take advantage.

“He ran such a game race,” Napravnik said. “He is a really neat horse, and watching some of his past races, he just put out every time.

Champions Day Ladies: Ladyzarbridge takes command early

A quick move along the rail put Ladyzarbridge in front heading into the first turn, and she controlled the pace the rest of way to earn a one-length victory over Little Ms Protocol in the Louisiana Champions Day Ladies at the Fair Grounds.

Ladyzarbridge broke slowly, and Silent Legacy grabbed the lead in the first few strides. When she came off the rail, there was room for Ladyzarbridge, with Rosie Napranivik aboard, to slip past.

Napravnik guided Ladyzarbridge through slow fractions – a quarter in 24.58 seconds, a half in 49.80 and six furlongs in 1:14.76 – and the mare had enough energy in the stretch to hold off Little Ms Protocol.

Ladyzarbridge completed the mile and a sixteenth in 1:45.94 and paid $4.80 to win. Silent Legacy finished third, another 11 3/4 lengths back, in a field of six older fillies and mares.

“I guess it didn’t really matter what the plan was at the break, because we didn’t break very well, but it ended up working out,” Napravnik said.

Said Eddie Johnston, who trains Ladyzarbridge and is her co-owner with Charles Zacney: “When they went 14-and-3 [for six furlongs], I thought we might be in good shape there.”

A 5-year-old Zarbyev mare who was bred by Foxwood Plantation, Ladyzarbridge won the Ladies in a similar front-running manner in 2010. But she injured a foot in a trailer en route to Delta Downs for her next start. A 27-length defeat showed that something went wrong.

“She hurt herself, and we didn’t even know it, and we actually thought she broke down in the race,” Johnston said. “Rosie was on her. We had to let the foot just about completely grow out, so she took about a year off. And here she’s back and doing good.”

Champions Day Sprint: Su Casa G Casa takes advantage of fast pace

Rallying from off a fast pace that softened up front-running favorite Amanecer de Oro, Su Casa G Casa stormed to victory in the Champions Day Sprint.

Ridden by Miguel Mena for trainer Bret Calhoun and owner Thomas Galvin, Su Casa G Casa was racing in mid-pack as Amanecer de Oro, pushed by Eugene’s Moment and Unitas, zipped through a quarter mile in 21.12 seconds and a half in 45.32. Su Casa G Casa pounced in the stretch, taking command approaching the eighth pole and pulling away.  Late-running longshot Productive Envoy finished second, two lengths behind the winner and a head in front of third-place Amanecer de Oro in a field of seven older horses.

Making his first start since April, Su Casa G Casa ran six furlongs in 1:11.14. Winnning for the sixth time in 13 starts, he paid $9.80.

“We got a good trip,” Calhoun said. “Luckily, they put enough pressure on Ama de Oro early. I didn’t think anyone could touch him early.”

“Bret is such an easy guy to ride for,” Mena said. “All you have to do is ride with confidence."