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STAKES ADVANCE: Louisiana Champions Day Part II

SUNBEAN SEEKS SECOND CHAMPIONS DAY CLASSIC; LITTLE MS PROTOCOL AND I DAZZLE REMATCH IN LADIES; STRING KING HEADLINES TURF; UNDEFEATED MR. L. S. SHOE BREAKS FROM OUTSIDE IN JUVENILE; MCPEEK’S JUMELAKA INVADES, TAKES ON WIND CHILL FACTOR IN LASSIE

Brittlyn Stable’s Sunbean will seek his third added-money win in six weeks when he defends his title in the $150,000 Louisiana Champions Day Classic for trainer Ron Faucheux.  The 4-year-old gelded son of Brahms will look to lend force to his claim as the best Louisiana-bred in training after a dynamite victory last out in the $250,000 Delta Mile at Delta Downs on Nov. 22 where he dismantled a quality field by five widening lengths under Richard Eramia.  Corey Lanerie – who has ridden the bay charge twice prior – will substitute and ride from post four for the injured Eramia when the reigning Louisiana Champion 3-Year-Old Colt or Gelding defends the race he won last year by a scant nose over String King.  A victory by Sunbean will boost the gelding’s earnings – currently at $910,150 – over $1 million, making him only the sixth Louisiana-bred millionaire.

Rookie conditioner Joe Sharp, who has won with an impeccable five of his 10 local starters to place him in a three-way tie for second in the trainer standings, will look for his first career stakes win in the Classic with new acquisition One King’s Man.  Claimed two races back by the flourishing fledgling stable for national leading owners Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey, the son of K One King defeated 2013 Classic runner-up String King while winning his first race for the Sharp barn in a muddy optional claiming event on Nov. 23. The gray 4-year-old gelding will break from the rail under journeyman Francisco Torres, who receives the return call.

The remainder of the Classic field includes Sunbean’s stablemate and 2012 runner-up Watch My Smoke, who is owned by Faucheux and Cherie Munna and will start from post two under Willie Martinez in what will be his first race since July 2013. Breaking from post three under Miguel Mena is Robert V. Lapenta’s sophomore Louisiana Flyboy, who won two restricted stakes this year prior to a seventh in the Grade II Super Derby and a runner-up finish to Sunbean in Delta’s $100,000 Gold Cup Stakes on Nov. 1.  Roger Braugh, Jr.’s Jonas Gibson-trained longshot Request a Puck breaks from the outside five post under leading rider James Graham.

LITTLE MS PROTOCOL AND I DAZZLE REMATCH IN LADIES – A talented and competitive field of Louisiana-bred fillies and mares will clash in the $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Ladies over 1 1/16 miles on Fair Grounds’ main track.  The race will feature a rematch of the first- and third-place finishers in from the $100,000 Magnolia Stakes at Delta Downs on Oct. 31.  Coteau Grove Farms’ Patrick Devereux-trained Little Miss Protocol relished the tight turns and closed impressively to 3¼-length victory that night. Such cannot be said for Mike Stidham, Brent Gasaway and The Farm on 4’s sizeable I Dazzle, a big-striding 6-year-old mare who was never comfortable and lost after two consecutive wins on standard ovals – including the $75,000 Louisiana Cup Distaff at Louisiana Downs on Aug. 2.  Saturday’s race will be a chance for redemption for the Stidham-trained daughter of Hold That Tiger as she breaks from post eight under James Graham.  Diego Saenz gets the return call on Little Ms Protocol from post three.

Another worth noting is Julie Clark’s consistent 4-year-old filly Tensas Harbor, who not only was second by a diminishing neck in last year’s Ladies, but has won two restricted Louisiana stakes since.  Colby Hernandez, who was aboard her victory in the $100,000 Louisiana Legends Distaff on May 24, rides the daughter of Private Vow for trainer Keith Desormeaux.

E Moon (Robby Albarado), Babefromthegitgo (Brian J. Hernandez, Jr.), Our Quista (Corey Lanerie), Oh Baby Oh Baby (Chris Rosier), Dreamglider (Miguel Mena), Ante Up Annie (Forest Boyce), Blading Wild Cat (Francisco Torres), She Loves Runnin’ (Donnie Meche), Miss Goodthing (Adrian Garcia) andAll Woman (Billy Patin) make up the remainder of the Ladies field.

STRING KING HEADLINES TURF – Charles C. Smith’s homebred 6-year-old String King headlines the $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Turf, one year after finishing second by a nose in the Classic to Sunbean. Coming off a good second in a muddy optional claimer to Classic contender One King’s Man, the bay gelding will return to what Smith reports is the charge’s preferred surface against a competitive field over 1 1/16 grassy miles.  A winner of the $60,000 Mr. Sulu Stakes and over the local turf oval in November 2013, String King will break from post five under James Graham. 

String King’s main competition looks to break just inside him in the form of Oak Leaf TC LP’s Mike Burgess-trained Benwill, a winner of half of his six 2014 starts – including the $60,000 John Henry Stakes at Evangeline Downs in April.  Veteran rider Donnie Meche will be in for the ride for the consistent 5-year-old who was last seen finishing a good second in the Listed $75,000 Unbridled Stakes at Louisiana Downs in September.

The remainder of the talented 10-horse field includes $100,000 Louisiana Legends Turf winner Skipberry Wine (Gerard Melancon), Quiet Concert (Colby Hernandez), the speedy Tiger Run (Francisco Torres), Sweet Baby Gaines (Jose Riquelme), McGehee’s Mercy (Corey Lanerie), Valse (Robby Albarado), stakes winner Stormdriver (Kerwin Clark) and multiple 2014 stakes-placed Well’s Gold (Patrick Johnson).

UNDEFEATED MR. L. S. SHOE BREAKS FROM OUTSIDE IN JUVENILE – Phyllis Hodges’ Mr. L.S. Shoe will have to overcome the outside post 14 in a full field of 2-year-olds in the $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Juvenile for trainer James ‘Sweet’ Hodges in order to keep his perfect two-for-two record intact.  Leading rider James Graham will have the unenviable task of negotiating past thirteen foes, as he substitutes for the injured Richard Eramia, who rode the son of Forefathers to a sharp win in the $90,000 Louisiana Stallion Stakes at Louisiana Downs on Sept. 6. 

His main competition on Saturday could come from the runner-up behind him in that race, Whispering Oaks Farm’s Salute the C – a gritty winner of a Fair Grounds allowance on Nov. 23.  He will break from the 11-post under Gerard Melancon for trainer Steven Flint.  Also expected to garner respect at the windows is Susan Moulton’s recent runaway maiden winner Cat Sup, whose 77 Beyer Speed Figure earned in that 10-length Delta Downs romp is the second-highest in the field behind only that of Mr. L. S. Shoe.  The Glenn Delahoussaye trainee breaks from the rail under Kerwin Clark.

Way Clever (Billy Patin), Royal Rising (Colby Hernandez), My Prophet (Diego Saenz), Charlie’s Affair (Roberto Morales),Grande Basin (Miguel Mena), Temple of Glass (Corey Lanerie), Kulik River (Chris Rosier), Hitheredarling (Robby Albarado), Slowpoke Sam (Willie Martinez), Union Builder (Francisco Torres) and Jazzy Rebel (Abel Lezcano) complete the Juvenile field. 

MCPEEK’S JUMELAKA INVADES, TAKES ON WIND CHILL FACTOR IN LASSIE – Magdalena Racing’s Kenny McPeek-trained Jumelaka will bring substantial class and speed figures to the Fair Grounds as she invades from her conditioner’s New York string for Saturday’s $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Lassie.  Ridden from the five-post by Chris Landeros, the daughter of Neko Bay will have to go through the well regarded Gary Scherer trainee Wind Chill Factor, whom Scherer owns along with Al and Bill Ulwelling.  A daughter of Successful Appeal, Wind Chill Factor won the $150,000 Louisiana Jewel at Delta Downs on Nov. 22 over state-bred rivals and breaks from the outside post 12 under Willie Martinez.

Expected to garner a great deal of respect at the windows are a trio of promising fillies in JRita Young Thoroughbreds’ Bret Calhoun-trained stakes winner Vivian Da Bling (post one), Maggi Moss’ Tom Amoss-trained runaway maiden winner Sibling War (post 11) and Steve and Pat Roe’s Patrick Mouton-trained allowance winner Catherine’s Dream (post eight).

Completing the Lassie field are Lady Emily Sage (Diego Saenz), Spree for Me (Billy Patin), Choupette (Colby Hernandez), Joy of the Saints (Corey Lanerie), Stingray City (Chris Rosier), Private Promise (James Graham) and Miss Molly B (Donnie Meche).