01/05/2008 12:00AM

Willist's neck hits wire first in three-way photo


Willist prevailed in a three-way photo to win Saturday’s $60,000 Dixie Poker Ace Stakes at Fair Grounds.

Willist ($7.80) repeated his performance from last month’s Louisiana Champions Day Turf in the Dixie Poker Ace by finishing a neck in front of Hallway with Wildrally another neck back in third.

Jockey Robby Albarado held Willist just off the pace for most of the mile turf race for Louisiana-breds before asking him to take over in the stretch. Willist responded, moving to the front and holding off Hallway’s late close, completing the distance in 1:39.23 over a firm course. Desert Wheat, the 2-1 favorite ridden by Corey Lanerie, finished fourth.

“It was a perfect trip,” said Albarado. “I didn’t have to do anything, just hang on. I was worried about Corey’s horse because I knew he would be driving, but I guess he was stuck.”

Desert’s Wheat’s trip wasn’t as troubled as that of second-place finisher Hallway. He had to wait for room in the stretch, possibly costing him a chance at victory.

Willist’s victory was his third in nine starts since Kelly Broussard claimed him for $25,000 from Steve Asmussen. Broussard said he was undecided about where to race Willist next.