06/21/2012 3:27PM

Louisiana Downs: Desert Ransom trying turf in Minstrel


Races are not won on Beyer Speed Figures alone, but the number Desert Ransom earned in his last start makes him look imposing Saturday in the $50,000 Minstrel at Louisiana Downs. He enters the race off a six-length maiden win for which he was assigned a Beyer Figure of 86. The number is tied for second-highest for a 2-year-old so far this year.

“It kind of jumps off the page at you when you see it,” said Karl Broberg, who trains Desert Ransom for the horse’s breeder, Jerry Namy. “And the horse that ran second to him came back and broke his maiden impressively, so that always makes you feel good.”

But still, Broberg is taking nothing for granted in the Minstrel, a five-furlong turf race for 2-year-olds that shares a card with the $50,000 Princess. The races are designed as stepping-stones to a pair of six-figure stakes on the Super Derby undercard Sept. 8.

The Minstrel will be the third career start for Desert Ransom, who was third in his debut May 6 at Lone Star Park. He then came back and put up the big Beyer at Evangeline Downs, in a maiden special weight for Louisiana-breds on May 16.

“He broke on top, was in a field of first-time starters, and everything went his way,” said Broberg. “We’ll see how he performs against winners.”

The Minstrel will also be the turf debut for Desert Ransom.

“You never know until you try it, [but] I think he’s still going to run his race,” said Broberg.

Desert Ransom is a son of Gold Tribute, who is getting 17 percent winners from his first-time turf runners, and 14 percent winners overall on the grass. Desert Ransom, who has broken sharply in both of his starts, drew the rail post for the first time Saturday.

“Let’s just hope he breaks,” said Broberg, who has given the mount to Diego Saenz.

Others making up the nine-horse field include Prince Production, a debut winner and half-brother to Spruce’s Production, a multiple stakes winner on the grass who earned $400,000. Blazing Graduate, who is making his debut, is a half-brother to Blazing Fury, a Grade 3 winner on the turf who has earned more than $500,000.

The Princess is for 2-year-old fillies on turf, and Fantacious invades off a maiden special weight win at Churchill Downs on May 10.

“She’s a Louisiana-bred and we wanted to get her back in this part of the country,” trainer Bret Calhoun said of the decision to target the Princess. “There’s a Louisiana-bred [stakes] for her in August.”

For the meantime, though, Fantacious will try turf after scoring by a neck in a 4 1/2-furlong sprint at Churchill.

“She was on the inside and she was pretty game,” said Calhoun. “I thought it was a pretty impressive race. She ran well. She was pretty gutsy.”

Fantacious, who races for Carl Moore, is by Dehere, who gets 11 percent winners from his first-time turf runners. Fantacious’s dam, meanwhile, was a winner on turf, and she has produced a turf stakes winner in Man of Strife. Jamie Theriot has the mount on Fantacious.

A field of 11 has been entered, including first-time starter Miss Moronette, who is from the turf stakes winning mare Leestown Light.