Updated on 09/15/2011 1:37PM

La Recherche holds on


NEW ORLEANS - It's tough to win on the lead over the Fair Grounds turf course. It's also tough to beat Tom Amoss at Fair Grounds.

The Amoss-trained La Recherche led all the way and won the $100,000 Pago Hop Handicap* (click here for chart) on Saturday, holding on by a nose to beat Twilite Tryst, who made an amazing dash through the stretch to narrowly miss victory. Stal Quest closed to finish third, another nose back, in a blanket finish.

La Recherche, third choice in a field of 14 3-year-old fillies, paid $11 to win, and ran about one mile on firm turf in 1:39.90. Favored Sheppard's Watch was never a factor and finished 10th.

Amoss has been winning at nearly a 50 percent clip during the first month of the Fair Grounds meet. That takes luck, and it requires horses to be in the right spots. Since La Recherche was on the Fair Grounds turf course, she was in the right spot. Like Amoss, La Recherche, a Sky Classic filly owned by Jill and Marc Winston, does her best work in New Orleans. Her win Saturday pushed her local mark to three wins in four starts.

When jockey Ron Ardoin and La Recherche opened a clear early lead from post 1 while setting a reasonable pace, the horses chasing La Recherche had their work cut out.

Twilite Tryst was nearly up to the task. Breaking from post 10 under Corey Lanerie, Twilite Tryst dropped back to 12th place in the early going, and she was still far back after steadying at the quarter pole. But when Twilite Tryst gathered herself in midstretch, she started flying, and even after being pushed out into the middle of the track at the sixteenth pole, Twilite Tryst, with Stal Quest closing to her inside, just missed getting up.

Pago Hop Handicap Chart*

* Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader.