12/31/2005 12:00AM

Tortuga Flats struggles to win at 1-5

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BOSSIER CITY, La. - It was not as easy as her $2.60 payoff indicates, but heavily favored Tortuga Flats outfinished a stubborn Hottamolly in a spirited stretch drive to win the filly division of the Louisiana Futurity on Saturday at the Fair Grounds meeting at Louisiana Downs. Leesa Lee finished third followed by Lexi's Luck.

Trained by Ralph Irwin, Tortuga Flats pressured Hottamolly early under Luis Quinonez before engaging that foe exiting the turn of the six-furlong race. Tortuga Flats and Hottamolly raced to the finish as a team, with Tortuga Flats ending up a half-length the best in a time of 1:10.97 for the six furlongs over a fast track.

The victory improved Tortuga Flats's career mark to five wins from six starts, including three stakes wins. A daughter of Wild Zone, she has earned just over $200,000 for owner John Balensiefen.

In the colt and gelding division, co-favorite Nob Hill Deelite ($4.80) was fully extended to outfinish 5-1 third choice Carson Bay. Cut Off Time, like Nob Hill Deelite sent off at 7-5, finished third, followed by Finest Irish.

Nob Hill Deelight is trained by Pat Mouton for Becky Winemiller and was ridden by E. J. Perrodin. The Afternoon Deelites colt covered the six furlongs in 1:11.80 in winning for the fourth time from six starts. He has earned more than $155,000.