Updated on 04/01/2017 8:07PM

Prado's Sweet Ride finally finds room in New Orleans Ladies

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Elizabeth Hodges/Hodges Photography
Prado's Sweet Ride, under Brian Hernandez Jr., takes the New Orleans Ladies by three-quarters of a length.

NEW ORLEANS – With a better trip, Prado’s Sweet Ride probably would have won the Marie Krantz Memorial Stakes here at Fair Grounds in January. At the top of the stretch Saturday in the $50,000 New Orleans Ladies Stakes, her trainer, Richie Scherer, saw it happening all over again.

Prado’s Sweet Ride turned for home full of run but with nowhere to run. Jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. probed outside, found nothing, then steered back toward the fence, eventually finding a seam between tiring pacesetter Emerald Pond and Selenite. Prado’s Sweet Ride went through it, finished right along the rail, and was going away from odds-on favorite Cash Control to win by three-quarters of a length.

“Right there,” Scherer said, watching the replay on a monitor as the field straightened up for home. “I didn’t think we were going to have any luck again.”

Cash Control was only a little better than her far less fancied stablemate, Selenite, who pressed Emerald Pond’s strong fractions of 23.40 seconds for her first quarter-mile and 47.10 for the opening half, staying on gamely for third. Cash Control stalked the pace from third and loomed a winner a quarter-mile out, but could not quite finish with Prado’s Sweet Ride.

“I thought both my horses ran well,” said trainer Brad Cox, who saddled the second- and third-place finishers.

Prado’s Sweet Ride ran 1 1/16-miles in 1:41.52 and paid $13.80 to win. Hernandez got the mount after Francisco Torres, who was named to ride, was injured in a spill on Thursday.

Scherer trains Prado’s Sweet Ride for Darrell and Sadie Brommer, and the 5-year-old Illinois-bred by For Prado out of Excellent Idea won for the sixth time in 18 starts.

Mr. Al’s Gal hangs on

Mr. Al’s Gal looked like she was going to get swallowed up at the top of the stretch, and looked in the final half-furlong like she would get tagged by Rose Guitar. Instead, Mr. Al’s Gal fended off all challengers leading from start to finish in the $75,000 Crescent City Oaks for her fourth straight stakes win.

Under Richard Eramia, Mr. Al’s Gal set splits of 23.57 and 46.50, a fast half-mile split even with a backstretch tail-wind. The field bunched up and closed on Mr. Al’s Gal, whose lead appeared tenuous a quarter-mile out, but the filly stayed on gamely and, after turning back Rose Guitar at the furlong grounds, fought off one final try from her nearest pursuer. Rose Guitar came up a half-length short while finishing three-quarters of a length in front of Moonlightnmidnight.

The heavy favorite, Mr. Al’s Gal paid $2.80 while running a mile and 70 yards on a fast track in a solid 1:43.06. Her price was so short because Mr. Al’s Gal has been the dominant Louisiana-bred filly of her generation. By Salute the Sarge and out of Spanish Ice, Mr. Al’s Gal, who is trained by Justin Jeansonne, was purchased at auction for just $1,000, but after showing talent on the track, Evelyn Benoit’s Brittlyn Stables bought the filly. And that has worked out well. Mr. Al’s Gal won three straight $100,000 stakes before capturing the Crescent City Oaks, and now has won at trips from a short-stretch five furlongs to a long stretch mile and 70 yards.

True Emperor surprises in Crescent City Derby

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True Emperor led his challengers on a merry chase when scoring a front-running, 29-1 upset victory in the $75,000 Crescent City Derby for Louisiana-bred 3-year-olds, his second boxcar victory of the season.

True Emperor had made just two prior starts, both in sprints. He won his debut at 64-1 in January, then was third in an allowance in his second start on March 9. Combined with an outside post for the 1 1/16-mile race, trainer Lee Thomas instructed jockey Jose Riquelme to be aggressive. True Emperor seized the lead heading into the first turn, put away his pace rivals, and lasted for a 2 1/2-length victory.

Underpressure was second, with Jack Snipes a head farther back in third.

True Emperor completed 1 1/16 miles on the fast main track in 1:44.72.

"It didn't look like there might be anyone else going for the lead," Thomas said. "In his second race, he struggled with dirt in his race. We wanted to minimize any issues. We were surprised he won first time out, and then he backed up in his second race. We didn't know if he'd get two turns."

He did. True Emperor, a 3-year-old colt by Is It True, set fractions of 24.16 seconds, 48.32, and 1:13.16 for the first six furlongs, then kept on finding more through the lane.

True Emperor is owned by a partnership that includes Dan Casey and the Elite Thoroughbreds Racing LLC of Michele Rodriguez, Thomas's mother. He earned $45,000 for the win.

Eden Grey’s Kitten takes Costa Rising

Eden Grey’s Kitten came up a half-length short a year ago in the $60,000 Costa Rising Stakes, but got home by that same margin on Saturday in the final stakes race of the marathon Louisiana Derby card.

Racing second behind Brilliant Interest’s fractional times of 22.19 and 45.15 seconds, Eden Grey’s Kitten and Florent Geroux took the lead in the final furlong and held off Icy Gentleman, who lacked room in midstretch and ran well in his turf debut finishing a nose in front of favored Jockamo’s Song.

Eden Grey’s Kitten ($9.60) ran 5 1/2 furlongs on “good” turf in 1:03.13 in a race restricted to Louisiana-breds. By Kitten’s Joy out of Steaming Home, by Salt Lake, he is owned by Carrol Castille’s Whispering Oaks Farm LLC and trained by Steve Flint. The 5-year-old Eden Grey’s Kitten won for the seventh time in 21 starts and pushed his career earnings to more than $200,000.

--additional reporting by Jay Privman