09/24/2008 12:00AM

Tortuga Flats staying on turf as career closes


BOSSIER CITY, La. - Tortuga Flats, perhaps the best older Louisiana-bred racing right now, is nearing the end of her career. She went over the $500,000 mark in earnings last Saturday at Louisiana Downs with her win in the $100,000 River Cities, and plans are to retire her at the end of this year, owner John Balensiefen said.

Tortuga Flats will likely be bred to a yet-to-be determined stallion in Kentucky, Balensiefen said, and will be based in Louisiana.

The River Cities was one of six open-company stakes here Saturday, and Tortuga Flats was the lone local to win. She rallied for a one-length win over in a field of fillies and mares on turf that included near-millionaire Brownie Points.

"We're all so proud of her, everybody here at the barn is," said Ralph Irwin, who trains Tortuga Flats. "To outrun a filly like Brownie Points, you've accomplished something. I'd say this is probably my favorite race with her of her career. I just can't say enough about her."

Tortuga Flats picked up her sixth stakes win in the River Cities, which improved her record to 15 wins from 25 starts for earnings of $539,340. And although she is a multiple stakes winner on dirt, she has proven to be a powerhouse on turf. Tortuga Flats began racing on the surface on a regular basis in May 2007 and has gone 10 for 13 on the grass, with eight of those wins coming over the course at Louisiana Downs.

Irwin said he feels Tortuga Flats is at her best on turf and he wants to keep her on the grass for the final few starts of her career. As a result, plans are to bypass the Louisiana Champions Day program at Fair Grounds in December because there is not a turf race for her division. Tortuga Flats, who was bred by Joseph Adcock and Neal McFadden, is a 5-year-old daughter of Wild Zone and the Dixieland Band mare Tortuga Band.

Plans pending for Steve's Double

Plans for Steve's Double's next race are still being determined, trainer Ronny Werner said. Steve's Double gave jockey Robby Albarado his third straight win in the $200,000 Unbridled at Louisiana Downs Saturday.

"I really don't know where we'll go next," Werner said. "We might look for something at Churchill."

Steve's Double was back at his Churchill Downs base Sunday, one day after he captured the Unbridled at a mile on turf following a demanding trip from the rail. He earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 93.

"He got in a little bit of trouble and still overcame it," Werner said. "It doesn't always work out that way.

"I do like the mile for him, and I think that track suited him well, too."

Steve's Double came into the Unbridled off a fifth-place finish in a $100,000 optional claimer at 1 1/16 miles on turf Aug. 28 at Saratoga. Before that, he was third in the Grade 2 Firecracker at a mile on turf at Churchill.

Steve's Double is owned by Oxbow Racing. The Unbridled was his third stakes win, behind the Grade 3 Perryville on Polytrack at Keeneland and the $58,000 Tenacious on the main track at Fair Grounds.

Albarado's other Unbridled wins came aboard Dontbotherknocking in 2006 and Go Between in 2007.

Ruffaroundtheedges tries Calder

Ruffaroundtheedges, a Louisiana Downs-based runner who in her last start captured the $50,000 Lakeway for 3-year-old fillies at Retama Park, will run Saturday at Calder Race Course, trainer Alan Love said.

She is entered in the $55,000 Dolly Jo for fillies and mares at six furlongs and will be ridden by Paco Lopez.

Love said Ruffaroundtheedges vanned to Florida with Mambo Meister and Alpha Charmer, both of whom were in town last week for stakes on Saturday. Ruffaround-theedges has proven she likes life on the road, with wins at Delta Downs, Sam Houston Race Park, Lone Star Park, Evangeline Downs, and Retama.

* Groovy Luck, Toga Too, and Mr Bubba, who all have either won or placed in stakes, appear to be the top contenders in Friday's eighth race, a $30,000 optional claiming sprint at about five furlongs on turf. Groovy Luck earned a 101 Beyer at a similar distance on turf in March.

* Lee's Spirit looks like a top contender for the Louisiana Champions Day Turf at Fair Grounds in December after his win in the $50,000 Lang Memorial at 7 1/2 furlongs on turf at Retama last Saturday night. It was his second straight stakes win behind the $150,000 A.L. "Red" Erwin at Louisiana Downs on Sept. 6.