07/24/2013 1:28PM

Louisiana Downs: Da House puts on show in debut


This content is part of a free preview of DRF Plus. Click to learn more.

BOSSIER CITY, La. – Ask any horseman, or horseplayer for that matter, what the most difficult distance for a first-time starter to handle is, and you’ll likely get seven furlongs for an answer, especially for a 2-year-old.

That fact alone made Da House’s victory last Friday at Louisiana Downs an admirable accomplishment. The manner in which the Louisiana-bred achieved the victory, however, takes the term “splashy debut” to a whole new level.

DRF Plus Preview

Facing open maiden special weight company and breaking from post 2 under multiple Louisiana Downs riding champ Don Simington, Da House had his adventures begin immediately. Stumbling badly at the break and spotting his nine opponents several lengths, Simington had no sooner settled Da House when they were forced to steady along the temporary rail exiting the chute when outside pressure set off a chain reaction of interference near the back of the pack.

Gathering his mount once again, Simington and Da House made rapid progress up the backstretch and into the turn only to find themselves behind a wall of horses with a quarter-mile to run. Angling sharply outward and moving as fast laterally as forwardly, Da House inhaled the first flight entering the stretch and in the blink of an eye opened up a daylight advantage.

His five-length lead past the eighth pole grew to 7 1/2 at the wire, with Simington sitting as still as a statue. The final clocking of 1:28 for the seven furlongs meant little over a strip that was playing decidedly dull all week. The effort reminded more than one press box veteran of another rambunctious debut, that of 1988 Preakness and Belmont winner Risen Star when he won at first asking here in the Minstrel Stakes in the fall of his 2-year-old year.

“It wasn’t the prettiest ride I’ve ever seen,” said trainer Wes Hawley, well known for speaking his mind. “He got the job done, though. The thing about it, I don’t think Donnie ever asked him to run. He was too busy dealing with all that trouble.”

Unlike the royally bred Risen Star, a son of Secretariat, Da House’s bloodlines are decidedly more blue-collar. He is by Yankee Gentleman, a stakes-winning son of Storm Cat who won 4 of 10 starts and just over $200,000. Some of Yankee Gentleman’s offspring include Golden Yank (an earner of $936,000), Speedacious ($572,000), and Tidal Pool ($394,000). He has twice been Louisiana’s leading sire in progeny earnings and stands for a $5,000 fee.

Da House is out of the unraced Derby Debut, a 9-year-old daughter of the Irish-bred stallion Royal Strand. Derby Debut has one other foal, the 4-year-old Royal Debut who sports a 1-for-16 career record.

Hawley purchased Da House for $14,000 at the Breeders Company of Louisiana yearling sale last September in West Monroe, La.

“I went over there not intending to buy anything,” Hawley said. “But when I saw him, I knew immediately. He is put together really well and obviously has some ability.”

Hawley sold part interest in Da House to Robert Orth earlier this year. The two have teamed up with a good deal of success in the past, most notably with Get In Da House. Hawley and Orth put up $10,000 to claim Get In Da House out of a Fair Grounds maiden affair in March 2011. The now-5-year-old gelding has run up over $400,000 in earnings while winning several stakes in 24 starts since.

“We did so well with Get In Da House, that we just named this one Da House,” Hawley said. “Kind of a play of words.”

There are two immediate options for Da House, the $50,000 Sunny’s Halo at 7 1/2 furlongs on the turf for open company on Super Derby Prelude Day, Aug. 3, or the $50,000 six-furlong Juvenile on dirt against fellow Louisiana-breds on Louisiana Cup Day two weeks later.

“Right now we are planning on the Sunny’s Halo,” Hawley said. “He’s got Royal Strand on the mare’s side, which says turf, plus the way he finished the other day, I don’t think the distance will be a concern.”