09/19/2013 3:55PM

Louisiana Downs: Sittin At the Bar shoots for $100,000 bonus

Tom Keyser
Sittin At the Bar, a $30,000 purchase at the 2011 Breeders Sales Co. of Louisiana yearling auction, has earned $418,000 so far in her career.

If six-time stakes winner Sittin At the Bar can win her turf debut in the $150,000 Elge Rasberry at Louisiana Downs on Saturday, there’s more than just a first-place check of $90,000 awaiting her connections. There’s also a $100,000 bonus to be paid to her owner, Dale Ladner.

Sittin At the Bar is attempting to become the first horse to claim the Bayou State Bonus that was introduced by the Louisiana Thoroughbred Breeders Association in 2006. It is available to male and female graduates of the organization’s annual yearling auction who can sweep designated races.

Sittin At the Bar has positioned herself for a run at the bonus by capturing the fillies division of the $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Lassie at Fair Grounds last December and the $75,000 Crescent City Oaks at Fair Grounds in March. The final leg is the Elge Rasberry, which is one of six restricted stakes at Louisiana Downs on Saturday. The races are worth a cumulative $600,000 and include divisions of the Louisiana Stallion Stakes and both sides of the Razorback series for 2-year-olds bred in Arkansas.

The Elge Raspberry is a one-mile turf race for 3-year-old fillies bred in Louisiana. The race is restricted to graduates of the Breeders Sales Co. of Louisiana yearling auction, which will be renewed Tuesday in West Monroe, La. Sittin At the Bar was a $30,000 purchase at the 2011 sale after longtime owner Ladner told trainer Brett Brinkman he’d like to search out some young prospects at auction. Ladner’s stable of horses includes such notable older runners as Unitas, the recent horse of the meet at Evangeline Downs.

Ladner and Brinkman struck gold with Sittin At the Bar, who at the time of her purchase was by a young, unknown stallion, Into Mischief. She was part of his first crop that also includes Santa Anita Derby winner Goldencents and multiple graded stakes winner Vyjack.

“She just really appealed to me from a physical standpoint,” Brinkman, 46, said. “She was a May foal, but I just loved where I thought she was headed. And looking at her pedigree, her mother was a stakes winner in New York. She hammered out quite a bit of money. She was a runner. And [Sittin At the Bar] was bred by Spendthrift. You can’t knock that. They’re going to do their best to mate and raise a good horse.”

Brinkman, who spent more than a decade readying crops of 30 to 40 yearlings for the track each season for owner Bill Heiligbrodt, put Sittin At the Bar through her earliest training lessons. She won her debut and overall has compiled a 7-for-12 record with earnings of $418,140. But despite winning stakes at both sprint and route distances and on three different tracks, she has never raced on turf. Brinkman is hopeful she will handle the surface switch Saturday.

“She’s out of a Mutakddim mare, and they’ve been known to have success over the grass to some extent, so I’m leaving that as a hook to hang my hat on, basically,” Brinkman said. “But I get the feeling she doesn’t really have to take her racetrack with her. She’s just a racehorse.

“I’m hoping the fact that she’s just a nice racemare will compensate if she doesn’t like it.”

Sittin At the Bar could not be coming into the race in better form. She has won three stakes in her last three starts, including the $60,000 Louisiana Cup Filly and Mare Sprint at Louisiana Downs in her most recent out Aug. 17. She rallied from last for a 4 3/4-length win, and for covering six furlongs in 1:10.40 earned a career-high Beyer Speed Figure of 91. Sittin At the Bar could have faced straight 3-year-olds on the same card in the $75,000 Louisiana Cup Oaks, but a deliberate decision was made to sprint her, in part with an eye to the Rasberry.

“We didn’t want to run her in the two-turn race and take anything away from her,” Brinkman said. “With the summer and the heat and everything else, we didn’t want to run a two-turn race that could possibly zap her too hard.”

Sittin At the Bar has worked twice at her Evangeline Downs Training Center base in preparation for the Rasberry, both half-mile moves, Brinkman said. Depending on Saturday’s results, she could target two more races this year – the Grade 2 Raven Run at Keeneland and the Louisiana Champions Day program at Fair Grounds.

Mark Guidry has the mount from post 8.