05/10/2006 11:00PM

Tortuga Flats on home turf again after rare defeat


Tortuga Flats has won three stakes at Louisiana Downs, and on Saturday she will return to the Bossier City, La., track for the $50,000 Fantasia. A six-furlong race for 3-year-old fillies bred in Louisiana, the Fantasia has a field of seven, including stakes winners Leestown Light, Cutie Sabrina, Grand Facile, and Hello Sara Lou.

No starter, however, is more accomplished than , who has won 5 of 7 starts and last year was named the Louisiana Thoroughbred Breeders Association's champion 2-year-old filly following a season that included wins in the $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Lassie, the $80,000 Laurel Lane, and a division of the $75,000 Louisiana Futurity.

All of those races came at Louisiana Downs, where Tortuga Flats is 5 for 6. She comes into the Fantasia off an uncharacteristic ninth-place finish in the $100,000 Louisiana Premier Night Starlet at Evangeline Downs on Feb. 18.

"That last race, we're just still scratching our heads over that," said Ralph Irwin, who trains Tortuga Flats. "We just chalked it up to the shipping, the lights. She went into the race real well, has been freshened up, and we're looking forward to running her."

Tortuga Flats has speed and can stalk the pace. She figures to be prominent on Saturday.

"Pacewise, especially coming out of the 2-hole, we're not going to overthink things," said Irwin. "We want to get her away, see how the race unfolds, and mix it up early. We just don't want to get back too far. Hopefully, she gets away good and clean."

Don Simington will ride Tortuga Flats, a daughter of Wild Zone, for John Balensiefen.

is an up-and-coming player in the division. She has won statebred allowances by a combined 12 1/2 lengths in her last two starts, and earlier in her career she was second to Tortuga Flats in the Louisiana Futurity. Hottamolly, who has speed, is a daughter of Sky Classic. Her dam, Jerold's Sister, is a full sister to Grade 2 winner Zuppardo Ardo. Trainer Patrick Mouton has given the mount on Hottamolly to Gerard Melancon.

beat open company in her last start, when she led throughout in the $75,000 Hallowed Dreams at Evangeline Downs on April 7. Trainer William Meaux has given the mount to Carl Woodley. The Fantasia will mark Hello Sara Lou's second start on Lasix.