Updated on 09/17/2011 6:04PM

Midway Road re-rallies just in time

Lenny Vangilder
Midway Road (inside), Robby Albarado up, noses out Pie N Burger (1A) to win the $60,000 Tenacious Handicap Saturday at Fair Grounds.

NEW ORLEANS - Midway Road came again with a final lunge after losing the lead in deep stretch to Pie N Burger to win Saturday's Tenacious Handicap by the slimmest of noses.

Spanish Empire broke down during the race and died of an apparent heart attack.

Midway Road went right to the lead easily under Robby Albarado. Lonnie Meche sent Spanish Empire after Midway Road, while Jamie Theriot hustled Pie N Burger just outside the other two leaders. Kodema, Absent Friend, and Fantasticat were unhurried early.

Midway Road kicked away to a length lead going down the backstretch after running the first quarter in 24.15, with Spanish Empire and Pie N Burger tracking him through a 47.90 half-mile. Approaching the far turn, Theriot sent Pie N Burger after the leader. Meche asked Spanish Empire for run, but the horse did not respond, then dropped back to last on the far turn. Meche took Spanish Empire to the grandstand fence entering the stretch, where Spanish Empire collapsed and died.

After cutting three quarters in 1:12.87 and the mile in 1:38.66, Midway Road was collared by Pie N Burger in the final sixteenth, but Albarado asked for more and Midway Road lunged back to the lead in the final stride. Midway Road completed the 1 1/16 mile trip in 1:45.48 to win by a nose.

"At the wire I didn't think I won it," said Neil Howard, who trains Midway Road. "This was a very, very tough race."

Pie N Burger was a length ahead of the rallying Kodema.

"I thought I won it," said Theriot. "He was very, very game down the lane, and I really thought I had the money."

Albarado, who was reunited with Midway Road after being replaced by Calvin Borel in his last race, the Fayette at Keeneland, had high praise for the horse.

"He sure had a lot of fight in him today," said Albarado. "He ran well being on the inside of a horse. He ran a big race."

Midway Road, the 1-2 favorite, paid $3 for the win.