02/21/2009 12:00AM

Love to Tell slow early, fast late

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NEW ORLEANS - Love to Tell stole the $125,000 Bayou Handicap at Fair Grounds on Saturday, wiring the field while setting ultra-slow fractions in the 1 1/8-mile turf race for fillies and mares.

Jockey Justin Shepherd took hold of Love to Tell coming out of the gate, piloting her through the first half-mile in 54.73 seconds while still two lengths clear of the field. She maintained her advantage into the stretch, where she still had plenty left to go the last furlong in 11.37 and win by 2 1/4 lengths.

"We were almost down to a walk," said Shepherd. "And it was hard for me to get into any trouble being out front."

Love to Tell ($17.60) finished the 1 1/8 miles in 1:56.48. She earned $75,000 for Lucas Downs Limited, taking her bankroll past $200,000.

"They can say we stole it, but they pay us the same," said Love to Tell's trainer, Mike Burgess. "I never imagined they would let us crawl."

It was Burgess's third win on the day, and was Love to Tell's second stakes win of the meet.

"We are doing pretty good for a 10-horse stable," said Burgess, who said that Love to Tell was likely to race once more at Fair Grounds before the season comes to a close on March 29.