12/13/2008 12:00AM

Wildrally's wide rally just enough


NEW ORLEANS - Wildrally closed from second-to-last to first, going five wide to prevail by a neck in the $100,000 Turf Stakes, one of seven Thoroughbred stakes on Saturday's Louisiana Champions Day card at Fair Grounds.

Given a skillful ride by Brian Hernandez Jr., Wildrally sat back off a slow pace on a soft turf course before beginning his move in the second turn. Hernandez took him five wide in the stretch, finding running room and perhaps the best part of the course.

Owned by GAL Racing Stable and trained Tom Amoss, Wildrally went 1 1/16 miles in 1:48.76 and paid $15.20 as the fourth choice.

"When we were sitting off the slow pace, I thought we were in trouble," said Amoss. "The speed horses had scratched out, and the turf was very soft."

Amoss credited Hernandez's ride for Wildrally's chance to win.

"I think going outside we found the best part of the turf, and that made the difference," said Amoss.

Amoss indicated that Wildrally would be pointed toward the Dixie Poker Ace, where he finished third last year.

"The owners have been very patient with him, and it is paying off," said Amoss. "He's a much more mature horse now that he is 4, and I think a lot of his success has to do with his maturity."

Juvenile: Break Up lights board at 68-1

Foreign Production easily disposed of open stakes horses last month at Fair Grounds. The Louisiana-breds he faced Saturday? They were not so easy to overcome.

Foreign Production, the 2-5 favorite in the Champions Day Juvenile, barely saved third, as 68-1 Break Up rallied from far behind the early leaders to win by a length. Pace-pressing Cocktail Clarence finished second, a half-length ahead of Foreign Production.

Foreign Production had won the Nov. 22 Old Hickory Stakes by 2 3/4 lengths, but the Juvenile was run at six furlongs, a half-furlong farther, and after contesting a fast early pace - 21.46 seconds for first quarter-mile, 45.01 to the half - Foreign Production began to wobble.

Meanwhile, Break Up and jockey Corey Lanerie had broken ninth from post 10, but midway around the turn, Break Up started moving. He reached contention in midstretch, buzzing past wavering front-runners to win going away. Timed in 1:12.02, Break Up paid $138.40 to win. A Sunday Break colt, Break Up is trained by Brett Brinkman for a partnership.

Lassie: Wire job by Master Link

Master Link went gate to wire in the $100,000 Louisiana Lassie, giving jockey Robby Albarado his first win of the day and the victory he sought to complete his collection of Champions Day titles.

Breaking quickly and holding off late-charging favorite Warrior Maid, Master Link went the six furlongs in 1:11.70 and paid $12.40 for the win.

Owned by partnership of five, and trained by Morris Nicks, Master Link went the half-mile in 45.57 seconds and then stayed the course to win by 2 1/2 lengths.

"She broke good and was going good within herself," said Albarado. "I squeezed her a bit turning for home, and she took off."

The victory gives longtime Fair Grounds jockey champion Albarado career wins in all of the Champions Day races.

"This one has plagued me for years - the only Champions Day race I've never won," said Albarado."

Sprint: Star Guitar by a neck

Star Guitar proved all doubters wrong, completing his comeback with a victory in the last race of Champions Day, the $100,000 Sprint.

Coming from off the pace, Albarado found room along the rail, taking favorite Star Guitar past fading pacesetter Killing Me, and then was up late to defeat longshot Mr. Barracuda by a neck.

Owned by Brittlyn Stables and trained by Al Stall, Star Guitar went the six furlongs in 1:11.07 and paid $5.40. He ran his record to four victories from five tries, and took a second Champions Day trophy to go with last year's victory in the Juvenile.

Ladies Sprint: Coach Mike comes on late

After trailing by as many as six lengths in the $100,000 Ladies Sprint, Coach Mike reeled in Sax Appeal in the stretch, finishing the six furlongs in 1:10.66.

Ridden by John Jacinto, Coach Mike stayed well back from the blistering pace set by Sparkling Diamond. Moving into second as Sax Appeal took over first, Coach Mike ranged up to Sax Appeal's outside, winning by 1 3/4 lengths. It was another 8 1/2 lengths back to Tortuga Flats in third.

She earned $60,000 for her connections, owners Ryder River Ridge Farm and trainer Tony Richey.

"She looked like she was having trouble handling the track," said Richey, "but when she got her feet under her at the top of the stretch she was determined to catch Sax Appeal, and she did."

* Also on the card was a starter handicap with a $50,000 purse and three $100,000 Quarter Horse stakes.

Mr. Porter ($4.60) ran away with the starter handicap by 12 1/2 lengths.

The $100,000 Quarter Horse Classic went to McM Dozen Dasher ($7.60). Mon Ti Rose ($10.60) won the $100,000 Quarter Horse Derby handily. And, Martini Mountain ($7.40) prevailed by a nose over Toast to Jess in the $100,000 Quarter Horse Juvenile.

- additional reporting by Marcus Hersh