06/25/2013 2:39PM

Louisiana Downs: Leggio ready for Legends card at Evangeline Downs

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Andrew Leggio would be about 15 years into retirement by now had he taken a conventional career path. But instead, the 79-year-old trainer is operating the highest win-percentage stable at Louisiana Downs and preparing a handful of runners for the Louisiana Legends program of statebred stakes to be run next weekend at Evangeline Downs.

Leggio has won with 7 of 18 starters this meet at Louisiana Downs, for a 39-percent strike rate. His win percentage is the highest among barns that have had 10 or more starters, and the fast start to the season has him tied for 11th in the trainer standings. Leggio currently has 22 horses based at Louisiana Downs.

“They keep me young,” Leggio said. “I stay busy all the time. I don’t have time to do anything else. As they say on TV, ‘This is your life!’ ”

Leggio has nominated several horses for the Louisiana Legends program on July 6, and all of them are coming off wins. Skip the Pinot, a 3-year-old he owns in partnership with Glen Warren, is targeting the $100,000 Mile following an eight-length allowance victory at Evangeline Downs.

Hud’s Rebellion, a winner of his last three starts, including a pair of $17,500 optional claiming races at Louisiana Downs, is possible for either the $100,000 Sprint or the $100,000 Classic, said Leggio. The horse races for Warren. Joyce’s Rebel, who won a $35,000 optional claimer at Louisiana Downs on May 18, also races for Warren and is a candidate for the $100,000 Louisiana Legends Sprint, Leggio said.

Patrykus, who accounted for a $17,500 optional claimer at Louisiana Downs on May 5, is possible for the $100,000 Turf.

For years, Leggio has been a force in the Louisiana market and beyond with such horses as Happy Ticket, winner of the Grade 1 Ballerina at Saratoga in 2005; Sarah Lane’s Oates, a 15-time stakes winner who retired in 2002; Candid Glen, a Grade 2 winner who ran out $1.2 million before his retirement in 2007; and St. John’s River, the runner-up in the 2011 Kentucky Oaks.

The trainer, who said he will turn 80 in January, annually splits his year between Louisiana Downs and Fair Grounds.

Antioch Diamond the value play

Antioch Diamond has reason to take a nice step forward in Thursday night’s seventh race at Lone Star Park. The $35,000 optional claimer at five furlongs on turf will be his second start in three months. Others making up the competitive 10-horse field include Ti Township, a stakes winner seeking career win number 20; Stickrossmountain, a stakes winner making a rare appearance on grass; and Lee’s South, an eight-time winner for Lee Jones and trainer Joe Petalino.

Antioch Diamond has won three stakes during his career, including back-to-back runnings of the $50,000 Remington Park Turf Sprint in 2010 and 2011. In more recent times, Antioch Diamond has been competing in Texas. In his most recent start May 19, he was fourth as the favorite in a $40,000 optional claimer at Lone Star. The race was his first out since February, and he was beaten two lengths. Benito Morales has the mount from post 3, for owner-trainer Claude Box.

Published works after Lone Star meet

Lone Star will remain open as a training center following the close of the meet July 6 for the first time since 2011. The track will have published works on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.

“We did not operate as a training center last year because of facility improvements,” said Bart Lang, director of racing for Lone Star.

Lang said the training center session would run from July 14 through Nov. 16. The stall rent is $6.50 a day, while horses shipping in to work will be charged a fee of $20. During the training center session, there will be a meet for Quarter Horses, and while the Sept. 13-Nov. 9 season is on, the training center fees would not pertain to Quarter Horses.

Lone Star is expected to draw overflow horses from its sister track, Remington Park, which opens a Thoroughbred meet on Aug. 16.

◗ Witt’s Five ($36) became the first winner for Five Demon Bag on Saturday at Lone Star, when he wired the field in a maiden special weight for 2-year-olds bred in Texas. Five Demon Bag is a winning son of Elusive Quality and a half-brother to the multiple Grade 2 winner Even the Score. Five Demon Bag began his career in New York and closed it out in Texas in 2009, making his final two starts for Henry S. Witt Jr., the breeder of Witt’s Five.

◗ Lone Star’s main track was to have organic material added to it Tuesday or Wednesday, said a track official.

◗ In a dream meet, trainer Nathan Wallis has gone 7 for 16 so far at Lone Star.

◗ Lone Star will offer $1 admission, sodas, hot dogs and popcorn on Saturday.