02/20/2005 1:00AM

Storm's Darling takes Chou Croute

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Lou Hodges, Jr.
Storm's Darling wins the the $75,000 Chou Croute Handicap under Eddie Martin Jr. at Fair Grounds on Sunday.

NEW ORLEANS - Storm's Darling won the $75,000 at Fair Grounds Sunday in a race marred by tragedy when Pawyne Princess fractured both sesamoid bones in her right front leg.

Storm's Darling tracked the early pace under by jockey Eddie Martin Jr. behind front running Freei with Spectacular Lisa, last year's Chou Croute winner, right there under Robby Albarado.

Pawyne Princess was in good position early in fourth place, but Family Business clipped heels with Pawynee Princess on the clubhouse turn, then going down the backstretch Pawyne Princess stopped suddenly and was pulled up by Carlos Marquez Jr.

Meanwhile Freei kept going on the front end, cutting fractions of :24.41 for the quarter, :48.89 for the half and 1:13.97 for six furlongs. Albarado edged Spectacular Lisa toward the front at the head of the stretch and she led turning for home, but Martin asked Storm's Darling for run and she came charging down the center of the track to win going away by 6 1-4 lengths, covering the 1 1/16th miles in 1:44.32. Spectacular Lisa finished a neck in front of Oneofacat, with Freei another 1 3/4 lengths back in fourth. Keeping the Gold, Julie's Prize and Family Business completed the order of finish. Pawyne Princess broke down after a half mile and did not finish.

Storm's Darling, trained by Bobby Barnett, paid $9.60, $5.00 and $4.20.