06/01/2011 1:08PM

Louisiana Downs: Nicks heats up with the weather


BOSSIER CITY, La. – Morris Nicks is heating up just like the weather at Louisiana Downs.

As the mercury creeps up toward triple digits in northern Louisiana earlier than usual this summer, Nicks has had a run of victories that finds him atop the trainer standings with eight winners from just 24 starters during the first month of the meeting.

“It does make things go easier,” Nicks said during training hours Monday. “It is always nice to win races.”

One of the most impressive of Nicks’s conquests was a maiden score by the 3-year-old colt Eddie’s Band, who graduated to the ranks of winners last Friday in his second career start. The son of Eddington out the Deputy Minister mare Bandstand led from start to finish in the seven-furlong maiden special affair and eventually won by more than nine lengths, stopping the timer in an eye-opening 1:22.85 over a strip that was not playing particularly fast.

“I got him over the winter at Fair Grounds,” Nicks said. “He looked like he might be a nice one from the time he was in the barn. He made some nice horses really work in the mornings when we sent him out in company.”

“He basically beat himself in his first start,” Nicks said of Eddie’s Band’s debut here on opening weekend, when he finished second. “He just walked out of the gate and then had nowhere to run out of the turn. I thought he would move up off that race, and he did.”

Owned by Larry Johnson, Eddie’s Band brought just $11,000 as a yearling in the Keeneland 2009 sale. His value is considerably greater now. When informed of the gaudy 102 Beyer Speed Figure that his newest star earned for winning his maiden, Nicks replied in his usual low-key manner.

“The phone has been ringing quite a bit since,” he said. “I figured those guys must know something.”

Nicks said his immediate plans for Eddie’s Band are still up in the air.

“We’ll see how trains for the next couple of weeks, let him tell us how he’s doing,” he said. “He looks to be a nice one, so we will have some options.”

◗ Longtime Louisiana Downs regular Andy Leggio Jr. also has been on a tear of late. After a quiet beginning to the season, Leggio has won with four of his last six starters, including a high-profile maiden winner of his own, G. W.’s d’Oro.

Owned by Glen Warren, G.W.’s d’Oro is a homebred 3-year-old colt by Medaglia d’Oro out of Sarah Lane’s Oates, who also was owned by Warren and trained by Leggio. Sarah Lane’s Oates is one of the most-decorated Louisiana-breds of all time. She won 21 of her 77 starts en route to banking almost $900,000.

◗ Two-time defending riding champion Don Simington will begin serving a seven-calendar-day suspension Friday. Simington was aboard I’m Indy Gold in last Friday’s eighth race, a 1 1/16-mile $5,000 claimer on the main track. His mount drifted out under a left-handed whip, and River of Ice, with Chris Rosier up, clipped heels in tight quarters as a result. Rosier was unseated. Neither Rosier nor his mount suffered serious injury. Simington and I’m Indy Gold eventually won the race but were disqualified and placed 10th.