09/18/2013 2:18PM

Louisiana Downs: Cates has pair for Lady Razorback Futurity


BOSSIER CITY, La. – With the arrival of fall this weekend, the thoughts of many people with ties to Arkansas turn to football and the University of Arkansas Razorbacks. For trainer Al Cates and his large contingent of Arkansas horse owners, however, thoughts of wild pigs take on a completely different tack – the Razorback and Lady Razorback futurities.

Saturday’s two events for Arkansas-bred 2-year-olds have been part of the Louisiana Downs stakes schedule for more than three decades. As was the case last year, they will join the two divisions of the Louisiana Stallion Stakes, and the Elge Rasberry Stakes for 3-year-old Louisiana-bred fillies and A.L. “Red” Erwin Stakes for statebred 3-year-olds on “Southern Showcase Saturday.” The Rasberry and Erwin are restricted to Louisiana sale graduates.

“The Razorback and Lady Razorback are big deals if you are from Arkansas,” Cates said. “There is just something about it. Almost all my owners have this race circled as something they want to accomplish if they have Arkansas-breds. They have been running this race a long time, and it’s something that a lot of people feel strongly about.

“It also has been a good setup for the Oaklawn meeting and its Arkansas-bred program, which begins just after the first of the year,” Cates added. “It’s nice to have a good race in you going in. It kind of gives you a jump on some of the Arkansas-breds that are just getting started.”

Cates should know. He has been a force in the Razorback and Lady Razorback in recent seasons. In 2011, he won the Razorback with Tricky Prospect and finished second in the Lady Razorback with Primarily Payton. Last year, he finished second in the Razorback with Rock City Roadhog.

“We’ve enjoyed some pretty good success,” Cates said. “Working with 2-year-olds is a lot of fun.”

This year, Cates will send out two starters in the Lady Razorback, Ivy Jo and Pretty Suspect. Each is likely to draw considerable attention given Cates’s prowess with juveniles and the fact that each turned in solid efforts in their recent debuts against open company. Ivy Jo finished second in maiden special weight company Sept. 5, while Pretty Suspect overcame a troubled start to report home a rallying fourth on grass Aug. 18.

“Both fillies are doing well,” Cates said. “We expect a good effort out of each.”

In addition to his two Arkansas-bred runners, Cates will send out the highly regarded Our Quista in the fillies’ division of the $100,000 Louisiana Stallion Stakes.

The daughter of Half Ours races for Eugenia Thompson and Ron Ball and looked most impressive in winning her only start in late August, drawing clear by five lengths and completing six furlongs in 1:12. Our Quista was not a well-kept secret, going off as the 9-10 favorite. Cates said they were expecting big things from her at first asking.

“You never know for sure what will happen, especially since she was in against some other first-timers, but we thought she would run big,” he said. “She obviously showed us some things in the mornings, and we were fortunate enough that she ran to that ability.”

Cates put the finishing touches on Our Quista’s preparation for her stakes debut with a five-furlong breeze in 1:02 last Saturday. He said the work went well.

“It’s what we wanted,” Cates said. “She did it well within herself, came back and ate up, so everything looks like a go. We should be ready.”

• Jill Marie, who runs in the second race Friday at Louisiana Downs, was disqualified from her July 12 win last out due to a positive test for the Class 3 drug Boldenone, a steroid sold as Equipoise. The purse was ordered redistributed, and her trainer, Karl Broberg, was fined $1,000.

- additional reporting by Mary Rampellini