08/17/2008 12:00AM

Star Production just hangs on in Prelude

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BOSSIER CITY, La.-Star Production already has one derby win at Louisiana Downs on his resume. Next month, he gets a shot at the big one. Star Production is headed to the Grade 2, $500,000 Super Derby after he won a three-way photo over runner-up Numismatist and third-place finisher Golden Yank in the $100,000 Prelude Breeders' Cup at Louisiana Downs on Saturday.

Star Production came into the race off an eight-length romp in the $100,000 Louisiana Breeders' Derby on Aug. 2. He came out of the Prelude with a fees-paid berth into the Super Derby, the richest race of the Louisiana Downs meet. It will be run on Sept. 20.

Star Production ($4.40) punched his ticket with a nose win in the Prelude. He contested the pace early with Acting Zippy, who led the field through an opening quarter in 24.20 seconds, the first half-mile in 48.49, and six furlongs in 1:12.95. Star Production took over from there, then held off the closing tandem of Numismatist and Golden Yank.

“I asked him down the lane, and he gave me everything he had,” said Carlos Gonzalez, who rode Star Production and picked up his second straight Prelude win behind last year's score with Forty Acres.

Star Production covered the 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:44.58. James Hodges, who trains the horse, said plans are to advance to the Super Derby. Star Production, who is not Breeders' Cup eligible, earned $33,000 for his win in the Prelude. He has now won 4 of 13 starts and $191,820. He races for Foxwood Plantation.

Love to Tell upsets Honeymoon

The Prelude was one of four stakes on the card, all designed as preps for stakes on Super Derby Day. In the $75,000 Honeymoon for fillies and mares on turf, it was the 3-year-old Love to Tell who led throughout at 19-1 for a 1 _-length win over Pleasantly Blessed. It was another head back in third to even-money favorite Candy Ball. “She ran a great race today,” said Justin Shepherd, who rode Love to Tell.

Shepherd said Love to Tell ($41.40) got the kind of early fractions that he and trainer Mike Burgess were hoping for, as she was clear through six furlongs in 1:13.04. She proceeded to cover the 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:43.66.

Burgess trains Love to Tell for Lucas Downs Ltd., and said plans are to run her back in the $100,000 River Cities for fillies and mares at Louisiana Downs on Sept. 20.

Closers win both juvenile stakes

Valid Message closed from next to last to last to win the $75,000 Sunny's Halo for 2-year-olds at a mile on turf by 1 _ lengths over Marquee Event. It was another 1 _ lengths back in third to Bertsgoldenmissile.

Valid Message ($24.20) covered the distance in 1:38.90. Curt Bourque rode the winner for H and H Ranch and trainer Ellen Williams.

In the $75,000 Donnie Wilhite Memorial for 2-year-old fillies at a mile on turf, Enjoy the Score ($16.40) dropped back to last on the final turn then swept past the field in the stretch for a three-quarter-length win over Noble Bandit. She covered the distance in 1:39.82.

Enjoy the Score led the field to the first turn, then settled in fourth along the rail down the backside. On the final turn, she dropped back, came eight wide into the stretch, and ran down the field. Enjoy the Score is owned by Dwight Fugate and her trainer, Jerry Hardin. She was ridden by Don Simington.

* Louisiana Downs handled a meet-best $3,057,214 on its 10-race card from all sources Saturday. On the corresponding program of races a year ago, handle was $2.6 million, said Mark Midland, vice president of racing operations at Louisiana Downs.