02/19/2006 12:00AM

Happy Ticket, Leggio dominate Premier Night


Happy Ticket was supposed to be the star of the show on Louisiana Premier Night, and she did score the easiest kind of victory in the $100,000 Premier Night Distaff, but Happy Ticket's performance was eclipsed by her trainer, Andy Leggio, who won three of the six Louisiana-bred stakes Saturday night at Evangeline Downs.

Happy Ticket, making her first start since she displaced her soft palate and finished 11th in the Breeders' Cup Distaff last fall, took a left turn leaving the starting gate Saturday night, but jockey Robby Albarado straightened her course and kept her out of trouble, staying wide throughout the one-mile race. Outside paths were the place to be at Evangeline, where the rail seemed dead - not that Happy Ticket was going to lose under any circumstances. Albarado never cocked his stick as Happy Ticket took control at the top of the stretch, going on to a five and one-half length victory at odds of 1-9. She paid $2.10 to win, stopping the timer in a solid 1:38.78.

Happy Ticket jogged back to the winner's circle with her ears pricked, showing no sign of the breathing problem that stopped her in the Breeders' Cup. Her successful comeback capped a huge night for Leggio, who earlier in the night won the $100,000 Prince with Hud's Playmate, and captured the evening's richest race, the $150,000 Championship, with Prince T. Leggio spread the wealth among his owners: Glen Warren owns Hud's Playmate, Stewart Madison owns Happy Ticket, and Rancha Fresa Inc. owns Prince T., who held off Badtotheboneandrew in an exciting edition of the Championship. Guy Smith, who also won three stakes Saturday night, rode both Hud's Playmate and Prince T.

The stakes action began with the $60,000 Sprint, in which Brandon's Marfa rallied down the middle of the track to nip heavily favored All Wired Up. Also close was the $100,000 Matron, with favored Destiny Calls wearing down a stubborn Indigo Girl. Pat Mouton won the $100,000 Starlet - no great surprise, since he trains three of the 11 horses that raced in it. The fastest of them Saturday was Leesa Lee, who beat longshot Grand Facile by a length and a quarter.