10/08/2008 11:00PM

Stakes winners clash for $32K purse


BOSSIER CITY, La. - Three strong allowance or optional claiming races will be run Friday at Louisiana Downs as the 2008 season heads into its penultimate weekend.

The 10-race program is anchored by a $32,000 turf race for Louisiana-bred fillies and mares that does not carry any conditions. The one-mile affair, the eighth race, is sprinkled with stakes winners, including Suzy Zip, winner of the Elge Rasberry Stakes here in August; Sammie Sam, winner of the six-figure Archie Sebastien over the Evangeline main track in July; and most notably Tortuga Flats, who dominated in open company on Super Derby Saturday three weeks ago in the $100,000 River Cities.

Others of note that race Friday include Mi Isabella, who won the Crescent City Oaks at Fair Grounds as a 3-year-old, but is still looking for her first win at 4, and recent allowance winners Classic Angel and Carol's Lucky North. Lew's Gray, also a recent winner in allowance company, will run if the race is moved to the main track.

Heelbolt heads optional claiming dash

Statebreds also compete in the afternoon's eighth race, as 10 sprinters line up either for a $30,000 claiming price or for a second-level allowance condition. The six-furlong dash is headed by Heelbolt, the winner in a similar spot here in late August in his first start for trainer William Deakins. Pat Valenzuela will ride Heelbolt.

Doble Quebrado, an improving third-place finisher in an optional claimer for nonwinners of four races at Evangeline Downs most recently, will offer more betting value than Heelbolt. Trainer James Hodges has gotten a couple of solid recent workouts from the 3-year-old son of Ide lately, and jockey Jose Riquelme should be in good position to exploit Doble Quebrado's No. 1 post position.

The seventh race on the card carries the same optional claiming price and condition as race 8, but it's for open company at a mile on the grass.

Speed has carried well on the turf of late, and that could make Cozy Time a player. The 5-year-old exits the seven-furlong Oak Hall Stakes at Evangeline, where he was unable to keep up through blistering early fractions. But he should find the pace much more comfortable on Friday. Carlos Lozada has the call for trainer Ricky Bourque.

Favoritism in the seventh race likely will fall to Pursue a Dream. The John Locke trainee won an open allowance here in mid-July, and most recently ran third in the Chick Lang Memorial Stakes at Retama while encountereing traffic trouble in early stretch. Diego Saenz has the call.

Rider's lead safe despite suspension

Leading rider Don Simington, comfortably ahead of last year's champ John Jacinto in wins, 96-73, heading into the next-to-last week of racing, will have plenty of time to savor his first local title since he has been suspended seven calendar days for an infraction last Saturday. Simington was cited for careless riding in the seventh race that day by Louisiana Downs stewards for angling out sharply through the stretch in quest of racing room aboard favored Tiger Timber in a $15,000 claimer for fillies and mares on the turf. Simington will be begin the suspension on Saturday and will return for the final day of racing, Oct. 18.

Sale set for Lafayette

The Louisiana Thoroughbred Breeders annual fall mixed sale is scheduled for Oct. 19 at Blackham Coliseum in Lafayette. A total of 197 horses will be offered in the sale, which gets under way at 10 a.m.

Horses of all ages will be offered in the sale, with an emphasis on broodmares and broodmare prospects, including large contingents from McDermott Ranch and Red River Farm.

Sires represented in the sale include Bag, Gold Tribute, and Leestown.

* A rare Sunday stakes doubleheader is on tap this weekend during the Evangeline quarter horse meeting.

The $30,000 Evangeline Maiden Graduation Stakes for 3- and 4-year-olds will be run at 400 yards, and 3-year-olds and upward will race at 870 yards in the $20,000 Sunset Stakes.