Updated on 09/15/2011 1:39PM

Fan Club's Mister takes Woodchopper

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Natalie Ardoin
Fan Club's Mister, Craig Perret up, wins the Woodchopper Handicap Saturday at Fair Grounds.

NEW ORLEANS - Fan Club's Mister was the most accomplished horse running in the $100,000 Woodchopper Handicap on Saturday at Fair Grounds. He also drew the worst post in the race, 14, but with two scratches and a quick dash from the starting gate, Fan Club's Mister cleared the Woodchopper field before the first turn and outclassed it in thestretch, leading virtually all the way to win by a half-length.

It was a gutsy performance by an under-appreciated colt, a fine piece of training by Rickey Harris, who brought Fan Club's Mister back from a 13-week layoff at the top of his game, and an excellent ride by Craig Perret, who relaxed his mount on the backstretch and saved just enough horse to win the Woodchopper.

Bettors accorded a surprising lack of respect to Fan Club's Mister, the 120-pound high-weight and the only entrant to have won a graded stakes race. Despite his credentials, Fan

Club's Mister went off at odds of 6-1 and paid $14.20 to win. Mystery Giver closed strongly to finish second and cap off an Illinois-bred exacta, with the improving Even the Score third. Favored Bowman Mill finished fourth. Fan Club's Mister ran about 1 1/16-miles over firm turf in 1:44.09.

Harris, who trains Fan Club's Mister for Pat Miessler and Cliff Raber, has seen her stable dwindle to a handful of horses in recent years, and is spending her first meet at Fair Grounds after wintering in Florida for years. Fan Club's Mister began the year in dirt races at Gulfstream, but has excelled since switching to turf, and won the Grade 2 American Derby this summer at Arlington.

Fan Club's Mister's training for his return in the Woodchopper was compromised by a pulled muscle in his hind end, which cost the colt a workout a couple weeks ago, but Harris still deemed him sufficiently fit for the Woodchopper, which is restricted to 3-year-olds. Indeed, the colt had to survive a fast opening quarter-mile, run in 23.78 seconds, and the stretch challenge from Even The Score, who poked his head in front at the furlong pole before Perret asked Fan Club's Mister for his best.

Harris said her ultimate spring goal for Fan Club's Mister is the Explosive Bid Handicap here in March, and that he would be pointed to the Feb. 2 Fair Grounds Breeders' Cup.

for the Woodchopper chart.*

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