08/16/2012 2:19PM

Louisiana Downs: Louisiana Cup Turf Classic could produce surprise in Sadie's Soldier

Lou Hodges Jr./Hodges Photography
Kissimmee Kyle is the likely favorite in the Louisiana Cup Turf Classic.

There are deserving favorites in most of the eight stakes that make up the Louisiana Cup program Saturday at Louisiana Downs, but in the $100,000 Turf Classic, shipper Sadie’s Soldier could pull a mild upset. The probable favorite, Kissimmee Kyle, will have to overcome post 10 in the 1 1/16-mile turf race, while String King, a front-runner seeking his fourth straight win, could face pace pressure from a new shooter in the division, Well’s Gold.

The Louisiana Cup races are all restricted to horses bred in the state, with purses for the stakes a cumulative $570,000.

The Turf Classic drew a field of 10, among them eight stakes winners.

“It’s a very competitive bunch, and the winner’s going to have to bring his ‘A’ game,” said Brett Brinkman, who trains Sadie’s Soldier for Harry Benoit.

Brinkman is hoping Sadie’s Soldier is sitting on a top race. The horse won the $50,000 John Henry over open company at his home track of Evangeline Downs on April 28, and in his most recent start missed by a head to Kissimmee Kyle in the $100,000 Louisiana Legends Turf, also at Evangeline.

“He got ahead of that horse for a jump, then he came back and bettered us a nod,” said Brinkman.

There are reasons to believe Sadie’s Soldier can turn the tables Saturday.

“The horse has been training very well, and I do think he’ll be a little sharper in this race, even though we’ve got to ship up. I love the horse. He’s a big, stout horse and he’s just coming into his own.”

Sadie’s Soldier will be making his third start off a layoff, and is to break from the rail under Kerwin Clark.

◗ Productive Envoy, a multiple stakes winner around two turns, makes a rare start at one turn in the $60,000 Sprint. He will be cutting back from 1 1/16 miles for the six-furlong race that drew a standout favorite in Amanecer de Oro. As for Productive Envoy, his natural speed and class make him a threat for Oak Leaf and trainer Tony Richey.

“I think he’s got enough tactical speed to lay four or five lengths off the pace, and if things back up, I think he’ll come running,” said Richey.

“He sprinted when I claimed him. He’s very fast. Sprinters don’t work any faster than he does. I think this is something he’s been wanting to do, and I’ve neglected to do it.”

So, Productive Envoy will get a shot to build on his 2-for-7 record in sprints. Mark Guidry rides from post 2.

Richey has two other stakes starters on the card who pose threats to established runners. In the $50,000 Juvenile Fillies, his She Loves Runnin’ will meet the undefeated stakes winner Love You Baby. She Loves Runnin’ earned a Beyer Figure of 81 for a win against $20,000 maiden claiming rivals in her last start July 26, a race she won by nine lengths under regular rider Richard Eramia.

“She drug Richard to the front and was literally pricking her ears down the lane,” said Richey. “She ran [six furlongs] in 1:11 and change without [him] moving on her, and I think that sure warrants running her in the stakes. She’s improved a bunch, which Run Productions can do. I think he’s one of the best stallions in the state.”

◗ Richey will send out Hot Prize in the $100,000 Distaff, a 1 1/16-mile turf race for fillies and mares in which Ladyzarbridge will be a strong favorite as the controlling speed coming off back to back stakes wins between Louisiana Downs and Evangeline.

◗ The Drifter is a standout in the $50,000 Juvenile off the Beyer Figure of 84 that he earned for a seven-length romp in the $75,000 Texas Stallion Stakes at Lone Star Park.

◗ Little Miss Protocol seeks the fifth stakes win of her career in the $75,000 Oaks.

◗ Harlie’s Dream cuts back to one turn in the $60,000 Filly and Mare Sprint.

◗ Top Cat Boogie seeks his fifth stakes win in the $75,000 Derby, a race in which he meets Yonaguska Storm, a half-brother to Grade 2 winner City to City.