08/14/2013 4:17PM

Louisiana Cup to feature eight stakes worth $570,000

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BOSSIER CITY, La. – Louisiana’s best horses, riders, and trainers are set to converge on Louisiana Downs on Saturday for Louisiana Cup 2013. Eight stakes, all restricted to Louisiana-breds, will be worth a combined $570,000.

Top billing has to go to String King. The 5-year-old gelded son of Crowned King is poised to improve on his runner-up performance in last year’s Louisiana Cup Turf Classic. He comes into this year’s edition following a popular 3 3/4-length score in the Legends Turf five weeks ago in his first trip to Evangeline Downs. That victory was his first of the year after finishing second in the John Franks Memorial Stakes against Louisiana-breds here in June and solid performances against open company in the Grade 3 Colonel Bradley and Grade 2 Mervin Muniz at Fair Grounds in the spring. Owner, trainer, and breeder Charlie Smith has once again given the call to Louisiana Downs leading rider, Richard Eramia.

Finding the favorite for the Louisiana Cup Distaff, also slated for the turf and also worth $100,000, promises to be a much more difficult task. Drinking Fund, winner of the Honeymoon Stakes here earlier in the meeting, saw her six-race win streak come to an end in the Legends Distaff last month. She also narrowly missed in a starter allowance locally as the heavy favorite in her last start. Little Ms Protocol, winner of the Legends Distaff on Evangeline’s main track, appears better suited for the dirt than the turf. Little Polka Dot, meanwhile, will get her preferred surface as she seeks her first stakes win of the year after three runner-up performances. Also in the Distaff mix is Tensas Harbor, winner of two straight in impressive fashion after trying the grass for the first time.

Mischievous Mama, runaway winner of the Legends Fillies Mile after stealing off to a long early lead, will attempt to do the same in the $75,000 Louisiana Cup Oaks. Don Simington, up for Mischievous Mama’s last victory, will once again be in the saddle.

Skip the Pinot might be the one to catch in the Derby after giving ground grudgingly down the lane following a pacesetting performance in the Legends Mile at Evangeline in his last trip postward. The Andy Leggio charge finished second that evening to Sunbean, who lowered the track record en route to a career-best 96 Beyer Speed Figure. Sunbean narrowly missed winning the Super Derby Prelude against open company two weeks ago.

Sittin At the Bar should rule a solid favorite in the $60,000 Filly and Mare Sprint after winning the Legends Lady Sprint at a short price. Brett Brinkman trains the 3-year-old daughter of Into Mischief. Mark Guidry will once again handle the riding chores.

Hud’s Rebellion, winner of two optional-claiming races here at Louisiana Downs before a second-place performance at Evangeline in the Legends Classic, returns to his favorite track and distance Saturday in the $60,000 Sprint. The 4-year-old colt is another Leggio trainee and has not finished worse than second in six starts in 2013. Corey Lanerie will journey in to ride.

The two races Saturday for 2-year-olds, the $50,000 Juvenile and $50,000 Juvenile Fillies, each drew large fields that are short on stakes experience. H an F’s Sensation, a winner at first asking at Lone Star in June, is trained by Tom Amoss and could rule a slight choice in the Juvenile. Whata Friend, second in the filly division of the D.S. “Shine” Young Futurity at Evangeline three weeks ago, may do the same in the Juvenile Fillies.