02/09/2016 7:41PM

Leigh Court overcomes bad start to win Mardi Gras Stakes


Leigh Court won her first race since October 2014 when she outclassed nine rivals in the $60,000 Mardi Gras Stakes on a special Mardi Gras card Tuesday at Fair Grounds.

With three horses drawn to her inside scratched, Leigh Court broke from the rail, and her start was not a good one, a hesitation followed by a bobble. Seventh in the first few strides, Leigh Court quickly recovered, came through along the inside to set the pace after a half-furlong, laid down splits of 22.59 seconds, 46.41, and 58.11, kicking clear of her pace rivals and holding off Eden Prairie to win by three-quarters of a length.

It was another 1 1/4 lengths farther back to Mizz Money in third, while Adrianne G, at 7-2 the only other horse at single-digit odds, a one-paced sixth.

Leigh Court, with Florent Geroux riding for trainer Mike Stidham and owner Speedway Stable, ran about 5 1/2 furlongs on firm turf in 1:04.39 and paid $3.20 as the overwhelming favorite.

A Sovereign Award winner at 3 in Canada, 6-year-old Leigh Court raced only six times combined in 2014 and 2015. She ran fifth in the 2014 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint, after which breeder Eugene Melnyk sold the mare, with her new owners turning her over to Stidham. Leigh Court was a good second in her comeback race, the Grade 3 Royal North, a turf sprint at Woodbine last July, and a good second over the Tapeta surface at Presque Isle Downs in the Presque Isle Masters late last summer. She ran below form in the Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes at Keeneland in October, probably just failing to take to a muddy track, and her first start Tuesday since that race looked promising.

By Grand Slam, Leigh Court is a daughter of the French Deputy mare Padmore. She has been lightly raced and very effective, running her record to 16-8-4-0 with earnings of $708,331 following her Mardi Gras victory.