08/05/2008 12:00AM

Star Production bursts onto La.-bred scene


Star Production has stepped up his game with more distance, and last Saturday he indicated he will be a force in the Louisiana-bred ranks the rest of the year with his eight-length romp over multiple stakes winner Ide Like a Double in the $100,000 Louisiana Breeders' Derby at Louisiana Downs. For the effort in the 1 1/16-mile race, Star Production earned a career-best Beyer Figure of 102.

"I'd never seen him run one like that," said James Hodges, who trains Star Production for Foxwood Plantation. "It looks like he's worked into being a stakes horse around two turns."

Hodges said Star Production is nominated to the $100,000 Prelude Breeders' Cup at Louisiana Downs on Aug. 16, but will likely run next in the $50,000 A.L. "Red" Erwin, a restricted stakes for 3-year-olds at a mile on turf at Louisiana Downs on Sept 6.

"I think we'll probably run him in there, and then take him to Fair Grounds for Champions Day," said Hodges. "They've got the Classic on the dirt, or the Turf."

Hodges said Star Production has a pedigree that tends to get better with age. His sire, Run Production, is by Saint Ballado. His dam is the stakes-winning mare Zarb's Star, a daughter of Zarbyev and a full sister to Zarb's Luck, a stakes winner of $647,744.

Carlos Gonzalez rode Star Production, giving him consecutive wins in the Louisiana Breeders' Derby. He captured the race last year with the Cyril Hicks-trained St. Zarb.

Hodges has another budding Louisiana-bred star in his barn in Run Don't Stroll, who won the $75,000 Laurel Lane for 2-year-old statebred fillies over the previously undefeated stakes winner Shutupanddance. Run Don't Stroll could move back into open company for her next start, said Hodges. He said she is being considered for the $150,000 Happy Ticket for 2-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles on turf on the Super Derby undercard at Louisiana Downs on Sept. 20.

"This is a nice, nice filly," Hodges said from Louisiana Downs on Tuesday. "We'll give her a little break, let her recoup. We'll probably run here, then take her to Fair Grounds."

Run Don't Stroll won her maiden against statebreds June 12. She then moved into open company, finishing second after setting a hot pace in the $51,000 Princess at five furlongs on turf at Louisiana Downs on July 19.

Superior Storm gets a freshening

Superior Storm, who is now 6 for 6 in Louisiana-bred stakes company following her win at Louisiana Downs on Saturday in the $100,000 Louisiana Breeders' Oaks, is being freshened, said her trainer, Rick Jackson. He said her next start in a Louisiana-bred stakes could come this winter on the Champions Day program at Fair Grounds.

As for her next start in general, Jackson said it might not come until Oct. 18, in the $75,000 Remington Park Oaks at a mile on turf at Remington Park. Superior Storm won her fourth consecutive race in the Louisiana Breeders' Oaks, following stakes scores at Evangeline Downs and Louisiana Downs.

"That's four hard races she's run this summer, two at Louisiana Downs and two at Evangeline, so she needs a break," said Jackson.

Superior Storm raced beyond a mile for the first time in the Louisiana Breeders Oaks, and won off by five lengths. If she goes into the Remington Oaks, she will also be charting new territory. It will be her first start on turf, and Jackson said she gets some pedigree support for the surface. Superior Storm is by Stormy Atlantic, who is getting good marks with turf starters. She is also a half-sister to two turf winners, the most notable of which is multiple stakes winner Taffy.

Meet strong at halfway point

Louisiana Downs is moving into the second half of its meet this week with some momentum. The track's average daily handle is up over the halfway point of its corresponding meet a year ago, according to Mark Midland, vice president of racing operations at Louisiana Downs.

Midland said that through the first 42 days of the current 85-day meet, Louisiana Downs is handling an average of $1,886,892 a day on its live races from all sources, up 3 percent over the halfway point of the meet in 2007. Of the live handle, the track has averaged $1,677,508 a day offtrack, up 2 percent, and $188,894 ontrack, up 12 percent.

Midland said competitive racing and large fields have contributed to the increases. He said Louisiana Downs has averaged 9.2 starters per race through the first half of the meet, compared to 8.4 at the halfway point in 2007. The season runs through Oct. 18.

* Brightstarrywalk returns to the Louisiana-bred ranks in Thursday's third race, a first-level allowance for fillies and mares at seven furlongs.