09/06/2013 4:57PM

Louisiana Downs notes: Gibson thriving back at home

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Lou Hodges Jr.
Jonas Gibson has 30 horses in training at Louisiana Downs

BOSSIER CITY, La. – This past spring, trainer Jonas Gibson moved his stable back to his home track of Louisiana Downs for the first time since 2007. It’s been the right call for the barn.

Gibson, a 31-year-old from Benton, La., is enjoying arguably the best meet of his young career. He ranked fifth in the local standings through Thursday, with 23 wins from 82 starters. In addition, Gibson’s strike rate of 28 percent is one of the highest win percentages among trainers at Louisiana Downs. He is returning to this region after having raced at Delaware Park, among other tracks.

“We geared up for the meet, for coming back here,” Gibson said Friday. “I’ve got good owners who have let me run in the right spots. We’ve been aggressive.”

Gibson on Saturday was to start leading contender Global Power in the $100,000 Unbridled. The horse is owned by the Loooch Racing Stable operation of Ron Paolucci. Gibson said Friday that depending on the results of the Unbridled, the horse could develop into a candidate for the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint.

Paolucci also has Classy Ruler with Gibson. Classy Ruler could see Louisiana-bred stakes action after earning his best career Beyer Speed Figure, an 83, for a win in an optional claimer at 7 1/2 furlongs Aug. 16. Classy Ruler was making a rare start on turf, and Gibson said plans are to keep the 5-year-old by Ruler’s Court on the grass.

Another winner for the barn this meet has been Batter Up, who races for one of Gibson’s other major clients, George Ackel III and his brother Adam Ackel. The Ackels are from New Orleans, and after Louisiana Downs, Gibson will be racing at Fair Grounds.

Gibson has 30 horses in training at Louisiana Downs. His stable is mostly a mix of older allowance and claiming runners. He said he particularly keys in on horses with back class, and as part of his program strives to keep his horses happy and spotted correctly.

Gibson’s first training win came at Louisiana Downs in 2005.

Options for Leggio runners

Trainer Andrew Leggio Jr. has two of the better Louisiana-breds in training in his barn in Skip the Pinot and Hud’s Rebellion, and both are candidates for stakes on the Louisiana Champions Day program at Fair Grounds on Dec. 14. But before then, one of them could see action at Delta Downs.

Leggio said the $100,000 Gold Cup at Delta on Nov. 2 is an option for one of the horses. The one-mile race is for 3-year-olds and up bred in Louisiana.

“The race is a possibility for either one of them,” Leggio said. “They’re both eligible. It will come down to whoever’s doing the best at that particular time.”

Skip the Pinot won the $75,000 Louisiana Cup Derby with a career-high Beyer Figure of 90 in his last start Aug. 17. On the same Louisiana Downs card, Hud’s Rebellion made a rare start on turf and was second to top-ranked statebred String King in the $100,000 Louisiana Cup Turf. Hud’s Rebellion also earned a Beyer of 90.

Hud’s Rebellion races for Glen Warren, while Warren and Leggio both own Skip the Pinot.

Skip the Pinot is by G.W.’s Skippie, a son of Skip Away who will be standing this coming year at Clear Creek Stud in Folsom, La., said Leggio. The horse will stand as the property of Warren.

G.W.’s Skippie raced for Warren and was trained by Leggio, with his biggest win coming in the 2003 Tenacious Handicap at Fair Grounds. His stud fee has yet to be determined, said Leggio. G.W.’s Skippie has bred just a few mares.

“Everything he’s produced has run and won multiple races,” said Leggio.

Another runner for the stallion is Skipawaywithpat, who is 6 for 15.

Flashy maiden winner to Erwin

Sweet Baby Gaines is being pointed for the $150,000 A.L. “Red” Erwin at Louisiana Downs on Sept. 21, said his trainer, Al Stall Jr. Sweet Baby Gaines was an 11 3/4-length winner of a maiden special weight over the local turf course Aug. 30. A 3-year-old by Leroidesanimaux, Sweet Baby Gaines defeated older horses, and earned a career-high Beyer Speed Figure of 81.

The Erwin is a restricted stakes for 3-year-olds at a mile on turf. Sweet Baby Gaines defeated open-company maidens in his last start. He races for My Three Sons Stable.

Longtime owner dies

Dwight Jones, who for more than 30 years raced horses in Arkansas and Louisiana, recently died, according to his longtime trainer, Jimmy Garroutte. Jones was 76. He died in Nashville, Ark.

Garroutte said Jones had an insurance business, but also was a coach.

“He was as fine a gentleman as I’ve ever known,” said Garroutte, who trained for Jones for 20 years. “Everyone knew him and loved him, especially those on the backstretch.”

** Jockey Roman Chapa, who is winning with 22 percent of his starters since joining the Louisiana Downs colony following the close of Lone Star Park in July, said he plans to ride next at Fair Grounds. He said it has been two years since he was based in New Orleans. Chapa, 42, is being represented by agent Richie Price. He is 13 for 60 at Louisiana Downs.