Updated on 09/17/2011 10:43AM

Prince Alphie's late charge does it

Louis Hodges Jr.
Prince Alphie crosses the wire in front by 1 1/4 lengths in the Black Gold.

NEW ORLEANS - Prince Alphie has spent most of his short racing career in Canada, but on Saturday in the Black Gold Handicap at Fair Grounds he did his best impression of a European racehorse. The Black Gold developed just like most turf races in Europe, slow early and fast late, and Prince Alphie had the best finish of all.

Third at the stretch call, Prince Alphie kicked into high gear a half-furlong from home under Shane Sellers and outsprinted Canaan Land and Oak Hill for a 1 1/4-length win.

This was nothing like Prince Alphie's turf allowance win here Dec. 29, when he raced just off the lead, took over in upper stretch, and gradually drew away for an easy win.

"This horse has a good finish," trainer Josie Carroll said. "The key was getting him to settle. I was concerned that he might make the lead. He was very sharp in the paddock, but Shane did a good job getting him to settle."

Oak Hill, a stretch-out sprinter, made the early lead under Gerard Melancon and set an amazingly slow pace. With the turf rail placed well out into the course fractional splits are slow right now, but even so, the opening quarter-mile in 27.38 seconds qualified as dawdling.

"We were definitely jogging out there," Melancon said.

But since the Fair Grounds grass tends to favor closers, Oak Hill's pursuers were content to sit and wait, even after a half-mile in 52.42 seconds. The pace quickened noticeably as Oak Hill cut the corner with a clear lead. Midway Road had first run at Oak Hill but flattened out, and with favored Zydeco Affair bottled up on the inside Prince Alphie's charge down the middle of the track easily got him home.

Only about two lengths separated first from sixth in the Black Gold, and Canaan Land, who narrowly earned the place, Oak Hill, who was third, and Zydeco Affair turned in strong efforts. Larry B and Midway Road brought up the rear, while Worker Man and Catalissa scratched.

Prince Alphie, who is owned by William Schettine, paid $9 while running about 7 1/2 furlongs in 1:36.25 over a firm course.

There are no turf stakes on the Fair Grounds Horizon for Prince Alphie, and Carroll wasn't certain where the colt would make his next start. She said Prince Alphie is nominated to the Louisiana Derby and that a switch to dirt racing would be considered.