09/22/2010 2:09PM

Richey out to end meet with a bang


The perfect conclusion to trainer Tony Richey’s dream season at Louisiana Downs this year would be a victory in the meeting’s biggest race, the Grade 2, $500,000 Super Derby on Saturday. That scenario remains a possibility, although a remote one, as the Richey-trained Arctic Comet is the longest shot in the six-horse Super Derby field at 20-1.

An alternate ending, however, may still read like a storybook.

Richey will be extremely well represented in four of the seven stakes on the Super Derby undercard. He will saddle the likely favorites in the two divisions of the $100,000 Louisiana Stallion stakes, Ollie Baby and Reyina, as well as the stakes-winning Tiger Girl in the $75,000 Happy Ticket for 2-year-old fillies and First to Bingo in the $50,000 Unbridled Stakes.

Richey leads the jockey standings at Louisiana Downs, and he put some distance between himself and runner-up Michelle Lovell with a flurry of wins last week. With four days of racing left at the current stand, he led 40-35.

“It really never crossed my mind until a couple of months into the meet,” Richey said of the possibility of winning his first Louisiana Downs training title. “All the sudden, I realized we had chance to win this thing.”

While he is pleased with his current success, Richey says it was not totally unexpected.

“We have had such a good last two years,” he said, “ever since I went back public after training privately for Oak Leaf Stables. I still train for them, but the addition of other owners has really made a difference.”

While Richey has long been a presence in the Mid-South region, his primary focus these days is in Louisiana, and the reason, he says, is obvious.

“It is strictly about the money,” he said. “I’ve got nothing against Texas, Oklahoma, or Arkansas, but Louisiana is where the money is. Their purses are great, they have a terrific stakes program, and their breeder’s awards are second to none.”

Richey’s emphasis on Louisiana-breds will be particularly evident Saturday as all five of his starters were bred in the Bayou State. Richey is especially high on Ollie Baby, a 14-length winner earlier this month in his only start. A son of High Cascade, Ollie Baby earned a solid 81 Beyer Speed Figure.

“You ask him to train fast and he goes fast,” Richey said. “You ask him to go slow and he’ll go slow. He just does everything you ask. I also think he is going to be able to run just as far as they write races.”