09/07/2009 11:00PM

Sellers thinking he can stay on upswing


With the Evangeline Downs meet having closed Monday night, jockey Shane Sellers will now be riding at Louisiana Downs on a regular basis. He launched his comeback from a layoff of more than four years earlier this summer, and is winning at an outstanding 25 percent rate. And, despite a late start at Evangeline, he ended up fourth in the standings there with 42 wins from 160 starts, for mount earnings of $765,042.

"I had a great meet," said Sellers, who closed it out with a win in the $75,000 Opelousas on Saturday.

Sellers's momentum could carry right into Louisiana Downs. He has top contenders Thursday in the featured second race, a $30,000 optional claiming sprint in which he will ride F Swoop Trick, and the sixth, a conditioned claiming turf route in which he will ride Belfast.

Sellers also has the mount on first-time starter Noon Delight in the fifth, a competitive maiden special weight for 2-year-olds led by Kylie's Dream, a full sister to multiple stakes winner Chit Chat Pam, and Gran Senora, who is exiting a productive maiden race at Lone Star Park.

Sellers comes to Louisiana Downs at a time when the track's riding colony has taken a hard hit. Patrick Valenzuela is out for the remainder of the meet with a fractured shoulder blade, while various fractures have also sidelined Lonnie Meche and Rico Flores. All three were injured in a spill Aug. 23.

Sellers said he is still in the early stages of his comeback, and he hopes to continue to build himself up physically over the next several months. A winner of over 4,000 races in his career, he returned to the saddle on July 2.

"Things have gone well, but I've only ridden a hundred-something horses," he said. "I want to ride as much as I can and drum up some business from people in Shreveport who are going to Fair Grounds."

Sellers said Anthony Martin, who had his book at Evangeline, will continue to represent him at both Louisiana Downs and Fair Grounds. Martin is the son of top Louisiana Downs-based agent Tony Martin.

Guaranteed pick four on Super Derby Day

Louisiana Downs plans to offer a $100,000 guaranteed pick four on Super Derby Day, said Trent McIntosh, racing secretary for the track. It will be an all-stakes pick four, and the sequence will include the Grade 2, $750,000 Super Derby. In all, there will be six stakes run on Super Derby Day, Sept. 19.

Nominations for all of the races closed Saturday. The Super Derby had 20 early-bird nominees last month, and a final total of 30. Among the early possibles are Regal Ransom, who in his last start was eighth in the Kentucky Derby; Blame, the winner of the $78,000 Curlin at Saratoga on Aug. 2; and Uno Mas and Red Lead, the first and third-place finishers in the $100,000 Prelude last month at Louisiana Downs.

The second-richest race on the Super Derby card will be the $150,000 Sunday Silence for 2-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles on turf. Among those pointing for the race are Forestry Steel and Prince Eddington, who ran one-two in the local prep, the $50,000 Sunny's Halo. Rich Elm, a winner of a maiden special weight at 7 1/2 furlongs on turf last month at a Louisiana Downs, is also pointing for the race, said his trainer, Bret Calhoun.

Rich Pearl set for Happy Ticket

Rich Pearl is a go for the $100,000 Happy Ticket for 2-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles on turf, said her trainer, Jerry Todd. She won the local prep, the $50,000 Donnie Wilhite Memorial, in her last start Aug. 15. Chanel Number Mine, a maiden special weight winner over the local course in her most recent start, is also being pointed for the race, said her trainer, Allen Milligan.

Milligan said he also plans to start Que Paso in the $75,000 Unbridled for 3-year-olds and up at 1 1/16 miles on turf. The horse was a sharp winner of a $35,000 optional claimer at Remington Park in his last start Aug. 30. It was his first out since finishing third in the $100,000 Essex at Oaklawn Park in February, and for the effort he earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 85. Mogumbo Cat, the winner of the $50,000 Shiskabob at Louisiana Downs, is one of the top local hopes for the Unbridled.

* The $75,000 River Cities for fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles on turf is a possible target for Icy Kitten, said her trainer, Dallas Keen. She has won all three of her starts at the meet, her latest a $20,000 optional claimer over a mile on turf Aug. 8. She earned a Beyer Figure of 80. Dancin Perfect is also a candidate for the River Cities, said her trainer, Mike Burgess.

Gold Coyote is possible for the $50,000 Temperence Hill at six furlongs, said Calhoun.