08/18/2010 1:13PM

No shortage of turf sprints at Louisiana Downs


BOSSIER CITY, La. – Twenty-five years ago, five furlongs was one of the rarest distances run on the Louisiana Downs turf course. Exactly one such race was carded per season, the appropriately named Catchmeifyoucan Stakes, traditionally held on the Super Derby undercard.

Now, due perhaps to the speed-influenced breeding of Thoroughbreds or horsemen’s eternal optimism that their charges will take to the infield better than they have to the main track, short turf dashes are common.

Such is the case on Friday’s program when a pair of five-furlong turf sprints highlight the nine-race card.

In the afternoon’s second race, a second-level optional claimer, Lemondropsmypop and Tears of Jupiter will vie for favoritism.

Lemondropsmypop comes in off a fifth-place performance in the one-mile Matron Stakes over the Evangeline Downs turf on July 24. Two weeks prior, the Wiley Shirley charge stormed from well back to capture a first-level optional claimer over the main track at Louisiana Downs in a race that was rained off the turf. The 3-year-old daughter of Lemon Drop Kid appears to have an ample amount early pace to run at on Friday. She will have Jesse Campbell in the saddle.

Tears of Jupiter has shown a tendency to run second throughout her career, including a bridesmaid finish on July 2 in a spot similar to Friday’s that was rained off to the main. In six turf sprints during her career, the Stormy Atlantic filly, who is trained by Eric Heitzmann, has never missed the board but has been second four times to go with just one victory. Tracy Hebert takes over the riding chores from the recently departed Pat Valenzuela.

Friday’s other dash on the grass is a competitive nonwinners-of-two for a $25,000 tag, that will go as the eighth race on the afternoon. It drew a field of nine, including four who will be making their turf debut.

One of those grass rookies is Can’t Complain. Trained by Al Stall Jr., the gelded son of Leestown will be making his first start for a claiming price. A winner at first asking against fellow Louisiana-bred maiden special weight types at Fair Grounds last November, Can’t Complain comes off a pair of tiring sixth-place performances against entry-level optional claiming foes after setting the early pace each time. Campbell will break Can’t Complain from post 2.

Of the established grass performers in the eighth race, Dryden holds the strongest hand off a pair of near misses on the local lawn in his last two starts. The James Hudson trainee has a one-run style that should fit the speed-laden field well. Iram Diego will be on board.