08/15/2013 4:15PM

Louisiana Downs: Leggio runners have questions to answer

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Tom Keyser
Sittin At the Bar seeks the sixth stakes win of her career in the Filly and Mare Sprint.

Trainer Andrew Leggio has leading contenders in four of the eight stakes that will make up the $570,000 Louisiana Cup program at Louisiana Downs on Saturday, but all of his starters have questions to answer. Hud’s Rebellion is cross-entered in the $100,000 Turf Classic and $60,000 Sprint; Skip the Pinot will have to get 1 1/16 miles in the $75,000 Derby; Kisses for Carrots goes long for the first time in the $75,000 Oaks; and Joyce’s Rebel seeks his first stakes win in a deep Sprint.

Leggio, 79, is winning with 31 percent of his starters this meet at Louisiana Downs. Hud’s Rebellion is among his success stories, having won a pair of optional claiming sprints at the meet in May and June. Leggio then sent the horse around two turns in the $100,000 Louisiana Legends Classic at Evangeline Downs last month, and he finished second, beaten a half-length by one of the division’s top players, Populist Politics.

“It was a tough beat,” Leggio said. “He got in a little traffic jam turning for home, had to hesitate there just a little bit, and it slowed up his momentum a little bit. But there’s always next time.”

Leggio has cross-entered Hud’s Rebellion, who races for Glen Warren, in the Classic, a 1 1/16-mile turf race for 3-year-olds and up, and the Sprint, for the same age group at six furlongs. By Wednesday night, Leggio said Hud’s Rebellion was more likely to remain racing around two turns in the Classic, which drew a field of eight, including multiple stakes winner String King.

“I’m leaning towards the route race. He ran such a big race at Evangeline,” Leggio said. “And there will be less horses in the route race. The Sprint has 14. He’ll probably wind up in a bunch of trouble if all those go. With the lighter field, he’s got a better chance of a clear run.”

Another question facing Hud’s Rebellion is that he has made only one start on grass. Leggio noted he was later found to have a bone chip in a knee, which was removed. He also said he feels Hud’s Rebellion might prefer the Louisiana Downs course to the one he encountered that afternoon at Fair Grounds.

“At Fair Grounds it was heavy and yielding turf,” he said. “Here, it’s more like a golf course. It’s different, and I’m thinking he might take to it.”

Corey Lanerie has the mount.

Leggio’s other Sprint entrant, Joyce’s Rebel, is moving from 5 1/2 furlongs to six furlongs, a distance that Leggio said better suits him.

“That’s a really tough race,” he said. “Anybody can win it, including him, with one of his good races.”

Skip the Pinot comes into the Derby off a runner-up finish in the $100,000 Louisiana Legends Mile at Evangeline on July 6. One start earlier, he had romped by eight lengths in an allowance sprint against older horses.

“I’m not crazy about the distance, but it’s straight 3-year-olds,” Leggio said. “And the horse that beat me last time, Sunbean, is not in this race. I like that.”

Kisses for Carrots enters 1 1/16-mile Oaks off a sharp maiden special weight win at Evangeline on July 6.

“She acts like she can go two turns, but that doesn’t mean they can,” Leggio said. “But I did win the Evangeline Mile with her dad, and I’ve got that in the back of my mind going into this race.”

In other races, Sweet Top Cat seeks to capture his best form in the $50,000 Juvenile, and Caroline’s Prancer can build off her sharp debut in the $50,000 Juvenile Fillies. Sittin At the Bar seeks the sixth stakes win of her career in the $60,000 Filly and Mare Sprint, and Little Polka Dot is moving back into the statebred ranks for the $100,000 Distaff.

Departing to Super Derby

Departing will make his next start in the Grade 2, $500,000 Super Derby at Louisiana Downs, said his trainer, Al Stall Jr. Departing won the Grade 2 West Virginia Derby by 8 3/4 lengths in his most recent out Aug. 3.

Stall, who has a division of horses at Louisiana Downs, has won the Super Derby twice in the last five years. My Pal Charlie won the race in 2008, and Apart won it in 2010. This year’s 1 1/8-mile renewal is Sept. 7.

“It’s five weeks from his last race, which is what we like a lot,” Stall said. “And with a barn set up there, it makes shipping easy. It makes all those things easy.”

Departing races for Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider.