02/06/2010 1:00AM

Royal Express wires in Black Gold

Louis Hodges Jr.
Royal Express goes wire to wire in Saturday's Black Gold Stakes at Fair Ground.

NEW ORLEANS - One day shy of his 69th birthday, trainer Spanky Broussard claimed victory in the $60,000 Black Gold, as his colt Royal Express wired the field to win by 3 1/2 lengths.

The lone speed horse left after Comedero was injured in the starting gate, Royal Express was left alone on the lead to set moderate fractions and control the race.

"I didn't think I'd be that far in front, but he went easy," said jockey James Graham. "I was worried about Comedero's speed, but he scratched from the race."

With the race moved from the turf to the main track, and Comedero absent, Royal Express went the first quarter-mile in 22.89, and the half-mile in 46.56.

"When they said, '22.89,' I said, 'He's going to win,' " said Broussard. "I knew he'd be in front - he's a quick horse."

While Vito Filitto stalked the pace for the better part of the race, he was unable to mount a sustained bid, finishing second, three lengths in front of Saluting Stormye. The favorite, Grand Slam Andre, finished last in the four-horse field.

Royal Express, making his second start as 3-year-old, went the 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:04.38 over a main track rated as fast. He earned $36,000 for his owner, Richard Rudolf, taking his bankroll past $110,000 from seven starts. He paid $6.20 to win.

For Broussard, the victory came 33 years after he won the 1977 Black Gold with Tudor Tambourine, when the race was carded for older horses. Like Black Gold, Tudor Tambourine is buried in the Fair Grounds' infield.

Broussard was pleased with Royal Express, and was interested in how he would handle going further.

"We're going to try him around two turns next, maybe a race at Delta going a flat mile," said Broussard.