Updated on 09/17/2011 9:47AM

Leo's Last Hurrahy aiming high


NEW ORLEANS - Leo's Last Hurrahy hasn't even raced as a 3-year-old, and already he has had a great career. A Texas-bred with a modest pedigree, Leo's Last Hurrahy won five races and more than $326,000 last year at age 2. His connections are hoping for more of the same when Leo's Last Hurrahy begins his 3-year-old campaign Saturday in the Grade 3, $100,000 Lecomte Stakes at Fair Grounds.

The Lecomte serves as Leo's Last Hurrahy's prep for the $750,000 Louisiana Derby on March 9, but, said trainer Bob Young, "we're coming down there to win the race."

Leo's Last Hurrahy did things last year horses in this era aren't supposed to do. He won a 4 1/2-furlong race April 28 in his first start of the year; about seven months later, he won a 1 1/16-mile race in his last start of the year. In between were three other wins and two seconds in races ranging from five furlongs on dirt to a mile on turf. Seemingly, there is little this colt can't do.

Young believes Leo's Last Hurrahy's only two-turn dirt start, a win in the $150,000 Houston Texan Juvenile on Nov. 16, was his best race. "We think his best racing is around two turns," Young said. "He has tactical speed, but we like him better where we are right now. If he continues to improve as a 3-year-old, he's going to be a real nice colt."

Young has been involved with Leo's Last Hurrahy for the better part of two years now. He broke the colt and was instrumental in his acquisition by owner Kenneth Murphy as a yearling. Murphy, Young said, essentially traded two of his horses to get Leo's Last Hurrahy, who was valued at $25,000 as an unraced prospect.

"We knew before we even got to the track what we had," Young said.

What Young has now is a fresh and fit colt who can prove himself a top 3-year-old during the next two months. "We're going to run in the Louisiana Derby and then decide what direction to go," said Young.

The Lecomte will present Leo's Last Hurrahy with his biggest challenge so far. A large field of 11 or 12 will include the graded stakes winners Lone Star Sky and Most Feared.

Diplomat Way stars on separate paths

Mineshaft barely held off Learned to win the Diplomat Way Handicap here Sunday, but in the Grade 3 Whirlaway Handicap on Feb. 9 he may not have to worry about him.

Trainer Neil Howard said Wednesday that Mineshaft probably will wheel right back in the Whirlaway, a graded stakes for the first time this season. Learned is less certain to make the race. Trainer Bobby Barnett will consider it, but Learned could wait for the $500,000 New Orleans Handicap on March 2.

The Diplomat Way was the first dirt stakes race for both horses, though the 4-year-old Mineshaft had started in grass stakes during the European phase of his career. A winner of two allowance races in this country, Mineshaft showed good speed Sunday, surging to the lead at the top of the stretch before withstanding Learned's furious stretch rally.

"For him to come out of a two-other-than allowance and run like that, I'm pretty happy," Howard said. "The bottom line is I'm still learning some things about this horse."

Learned was so far behind Mineshaft about a half-mile from the finish that he seemed to be on the verge of dropping out of the race. But he started picking up horses on the far turn and sustained his rally to the finish, missing by a nose. A stride past the wire, Learned was in front.

"He seemed to come back good," Barnett said. "He only ran hard about a quarter-mile. I just wish we had another week between races - it's awfully close."

Stakes winner Lake Lady working on comeback

Lake Lady, winner of the Thelma and Tiffany Lass stakes here last season, has worked twice at Fair Grounds as she attempts a comeback from a long layoff. Lake Lady hasn't raced since April 12, when she finished second in the Grade 2 Fantasy at Belmont Park.

Lake Lady's long layoff resulted mainly from an injured knee, but Bret Calhoun, who has taken over Lake Lady's training from Steve Asmussen, said Lake Lady came out of a 51-second half-mile breeze here Saturday in good shape.

"We're just looking to keep her sprinting right now, so I'd say she should be ready before the end of this meet," Calhoun said.

Book Note, Bohunk both early-win prospects

The second of four training races here Wednesday was clearly the best heat of the morning, and the top two finishers - separated by only a nose - both are win-early prospects. Bohunk was up by a nose over Book Note, but while Bohunk was under a strong drive, Book Note was cruising in the stretch. Book Note showed good early speed and both horses ran fast, 1:01.40 for five furlongs with a 1:14.80 six-furlong gallop-out. Book Note is trained by Ronny Werner, Bohunk by Hugh Robertson.

Others to watch from Wednesday are Withaclick (trainer Alice Cohn), Nicked (Mike Doyle), and Rock Falls (Mike Stidham).