12/12/2015 8:31PM

Jockamo's Song collars favorite late to win Champions Day Sprint

Amanda Hodges Weir/Hodges Photography
Jockamo's Song wins the Louisiana Champions Day Sprint by a length Saturday at Fair Grounds.

Jockamo’s Song, a Louisiana-bred maiden winner in his most recent start Nov. 22, could have been an odds-on allowance race favorite this past week, but his connections scratched from that enticing spot and went instead for the $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Sprint. They were rewarded with a victory Saturday at Fair Grounds.

Jockamo’s Song collared the favored Heitai inside the final furlong and held clear closing Too Dim, winning the Sprint by one length in his first start against other winners. Trainer Mike Stidham might have opted for the allowance race, but Mike and Allen Faber of Dare to Dream Stables pushed for the stakes start.

“Credit goes to Mike and Allen Faber,” said Stidham. “They probably had a little more confidence than I did. They were sure this was the spot.”

Mitchell Murrill rode the winner, the first stakes victory of his career. Murrill became a journeyman rider last June at Arlington and is off to a strong start in his second Fair Grounds season.

Heitai broke brilliantly from the rail and quickly opened a big lead, going a wind-aided first quarter in 21.26 seconds and a half-mile in a testing 44.49. Heitai began fading at the eighth pole as Jockamo’s Song, racing about three paths wide, pushed steadily on. Too Dim rallied along the fence and tried for a hole between Heitai and Jockamo’s Song but couldn’t get through, swinging outside those two rivals for a final bid that fell well short of the winner. Jockey Miguel Mena claimed foul on Murrill, but the objection was disallowed.

Jockamo’s Song ran six furlongs in 1:10.78 and paid $13.80 to win. The 4-year-old son of Half Ours out of Miss Claimette was bred by Debbie and David Allen. Jockamo’s Song won for the second time in five races, was making only his second start around one turn, and clearly has found a niche in sprints.

Aunt Nellie rallies to upset in Lassie

Aunt Nellie rallied from second-last to win the $100,000 Champions Day Lassie going away, scoring a 27-1 upset for owner-trainer Floyd Pitzer, who co-bred the 2-year-old daughter of Musket Man out of Vanilla Whirl with Renee Pitzer.

Aunt Nellie’s only previous win had come in the first of her three prior starts, a $20,000 Louisiana-bred maiden claimer at Evangeline Downs, but Aunt Nellie led in that race, and she appears better off as a one-run sprinter. Smittys Cougar, the 6-5 favorite, set a strong pace in the Lassie, going 21.69 and 45.57 while uncontested, but when racing into a strong headwind, her strides began shortening before the eighth pole, and she had no response as Aunt Nellie and jockey Roberto Morales whizzed by on the way to a 3 1/4-length win.

Second choice Conquest Tiz One got a favorable inside stalking trip but raced greenly once wheeled out for running room at the top of the stretch and came home one paced to get second over Smittys Cougar. The final time of 1:12.86 included a closing quarter-mile fraction in 26.79, slow even considering the headwind.