09/04/2005 12:00AM

Middleweight best in Sport City Handicap


BOSSIER CITY, La. - Cleverly handled by Gerard Melancon, Middleweight delivered a knockout punch with a strong challenge in upper stretch to capture Sunday's Sport City Handicap at Harrah's Louisiana Downs. Crowned King made a late run and finished a willing second followed by Tromp.

Melancon allowed early leaders Northern Scene and Goosey Moose to carve out moderate fractions in the mile and a quarter affair on the turf before getting the jump on the remainder of the field in the third turn. Holding the advantage past the furlong marker, Melancon kept Middleweight ($8.00) to task in the late going to hold Crowned King safe by a length. The final time of 2:02.76 easily set a course record for the distance over firm going.

Trained by Al Stall, Jr. who also sent out third place finisher Tromp, Middleweight won for the sixth time in 21 career starts and added $30,000 to his career bankroll which now totals just over $200,000 for owners Peter Gaffney and Stewart Madison.

"He's a free running horse and we told Gerard to let him do his own thing," said Stall assistant Pam Fitzgerald following the race. "They only run this distance once a year, but we?ll take it."

"I thought I would be sitting third or fourth behind the two speed horses and that is exactly what happened," added Melancon. "I sat and sat and sat, he had his ears pricked and relaxed. I knew when I asked him he was just going explode. He ran a huge race."