07/26/2011 2:11PM

Louisiana Downs: St. John's River working toward Alabama Stakes at Saratoga

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Tom Keyser
St. John's River is working toward a start in the Grade 1 Alabama at Saratoga.

Trainer Andrew Leggio was traveling from his Bossier City, La., base to Saratoga on Tuesday in order to watch St. John’s River work toward the Grade 1, $500,000 Alabama Stakes. She was scheduled to breeze Wednesday morning under Robby Albarado, who will have the mount in the Aug. 20 race, Leggio said.

St. John’s River won the Grade 2 Delaware Oaks on July 9. It was her first start since May, when she finished second by a neck in the Kentucky Oaks. Leggio said St. John’s River shipped from Delaware to New York on July 16.

“She’s been at Saratoga training since then,” he said. “She’s been galloping. She’s doing good. She ran a big race last time. We were pleased and proud of her.

“Our goal is the Alabama, the mile and a quarter. We’re looking forward to running in it.”

Leggio trains St. John’s River for Dede McGehee. The filly is a full sister to millionaire Panty Raid, whose top wins included the Grade 1 American Oaks, the Grade 1 Spinster, and the Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan.

St. John’s River launched her career last December at Fair Grounds, under Albarado. She was third in a maiden special weight sprint and was to be ridden back by Albarado, but an injury prevented him from taking the call, Leggio said.

Rosie Napravnik filled in, and St. John’s River romped in what was her two-turn debut. Napravnik also was aboard St. John’s River in the Kentucky Oaks and had the mount again at Delaware, but she was seriously injured a few days before the race. Jose Lezcano was a late replacement aboard St. John’s River.

The filly closed from last for a head win in the 1 1/16-mile Delaware Oaks, earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 86.

Local options for Matron top two

Skipping Town and Category Seven, who finished a neck apart in the $50,000 Matron at Evangeline Downs last Saturday, both have local stakes options on deck. Skipping Town is a Louisiana-bred and will return to the statebred ranks for her next start, trainer Sam Ishaq said.

“It looked like she came out of the race good,” he said. “It’s our intention to run on Champions Day, a mile and a sixteenth on the turf. The Louisiana Cup Distaff.”

The $100,000 race is part of a program of statebred stakes Aug. 20 at Louisiana Downs.

Skipping Town picked up her first stakes win in the Matron. She races for Daniel Family Farms.

Category Seven, a multiple stakes winner bred in Florida, could go a couple of different directions for her next start, trainer Kenneth Hargrave said.

“It’s kind of up in the air,” he said. “I don’t know if we’ll run in the race against the boys coming up, the Barksdale. That might be a little too quick. If we miss that one, we’ll just sit and wait for the River Cities. She came out of the race real good.”

The $50,000 Barksdale is at Louisiana Downs on Aug. 6, while the $100,000 River Cities, for fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles on turf, is part of the Super Derby undercard Sept. 10.

Class, distance test for Wash Park

Wash Park, who won a $20,000 maiden claiming sprint by more than eight lengths in his last start June 17, will step up in class for Thursday’s eighth race, a first-level allowance. It will be run at about 7 1/2 furlongs on turf.

Wash Park earned a career-high Beyer of 81 for his romping maiden score, which came at Louisiana Downs. He gets pedigree support for the move back to two turns as his sire, Ecton Park, won the Super Derby in 1999, and his dam, Go for Glamour, was third in both the Santa Anita Oaks and Fantasy.

Wash Park, who is 4, races for Columbine Stable. Justin Shepherd has the mount for trainer Al Stall Jr. The chief threats are Nolan’s Revenge and Regions Reward.