12/31/2015 8:47PM

Smittys Cougar, Half Cajun win Louisiana Futurity divisions

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Lou Hodges Jr.
Half Cajun and jockey Richard Eramia win the males' division of the Louisiana Futurity on Thursday.

Smittys Cougar led from start to finish and won the fillies division of the $96,970 Louisiana Futurity, and three races later, Half Cajun did virtually the same thing in the $96,970 colts-and-geldings division.

Breaking third under Richard Eramia, Half Cajun quickly sped to the front, set solid splits 22.06 seconds and 46.08, and had plenty left to hold off the co-favored Johns Luck in race 10. Icy Gentleman, the other co-favored 2-1 shot, finished third. Half Cajun, a Half Ours colt bred and owned by Stacy Moak, ran six furlongs in 1:12.08 and paid $28.20.

A claim of foul lodged by Johns Luck’s trainer, Eric Heitzman, against the winner for interference past the half-mile pole was disallowed.

Half Cajun was making his first dirt start after a debut win Sept. 17 sprinting on turf at Louisiana Downs.

“We came down here [to Fair Grounds], and he busted a muscle in his hip,” said winning trainer James “Sweet” Hodges. “We entered in a non-winners-of-two [allowance race], and it didn’t go. We had to run him here off works. I didn’t feel he was 100 percent fit; he’s just a nice, nice colt.”

Bettors found Smittys Cougar’s front-end success in the fillies division, race 7, much easier to predict. The 4-5 favorite under Jose Valdivia Jr., she broke on top from post 3, led through splits of 22.23 and 45.99, and dashed away from the chasing Rita’s Fifty Seven to win by 9 3/4 lengths, stopping the timer in 1:12.20 for six furlongs.

Reality is Great, a 30-1 shot, pressed the winner for a few furlongs, but Valdivia felt confident throughout the race.

“It was just a matter of getting her comfortable,” Valdivia said. “Even though she was going head to head with that other horse, she was well within herself.”

Smittys Cougar ($3.80), also by Half Ours, won for the third time in five starts. She’d set the pace and faded to third in the Louisiana Champions Day Lassie, and since her maiden win had come at five furlongs and her dam was best as a five or 5 1/2-furlong turf sprinter, there was some concern about Smittys Cougar getting six furlongs, said Ron Faucheux, who trains the filly for owner and breeder Roger Smith.

“Jose rode her perfect,” Faucheux said.