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Clear Sailing Could Have Date with Rachel Alexandra After Pelleteri Win
Veteran jockey Shane Sellers, lately surging as “The Comeback Kid” after being away from competition for four-and-a-half years, came from worst to first astride the appropriately-named Clear Sailing to win Saturday’s featured $60,000 Pelleteri Stakes by a neck to give Sellers a riding triple for the day.
The win by Clear Sailing, owned by Coteau Farm and trained by Glenn Delahoussaye, vaulted the 4-year-old daughter of Empire Maker into the picture as one of the more prominent older fillies in the nation in a division currently topped by Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra and Champion Older Female Zenyatta.
“I decided I was going to be a hero or a zero,” said Sellers of his decision to take the filly back to last until the stretch run. “I had complete confidence in her. She’s one of the best fillies I’ve ever ridden. She’s a freak.”
Now it appears likely that Clear Sailing will meet Rachel Alexandra one month from today in the March 13 New Orleans Ladies.
“If the timing is right and my horse is healthy and we can add to our horse’s résumé, we won’t hesitate,” Delahoussaye said. “I can’t worry about who else will be in there.”
Sellers’ win aboard Clear Sailing also foiled the duo of Eclipse-Award winning trainer Steve Asmussen and jockey Shaun Bridgmohan’s bid for a six-race sweep of their afternoon’s races – which would have equaled a record-setting feat that same duo established at Fair Grounds on December 22, 2007.
War Echo, the Asmussen-Bridgmohan representative in the Pelleteri, was odds-on in the Saturday stakes feature with a chance to give them their six-pack, but she finished third, beaten a length by Clear Sailing and three-quarters of a length behind runner-up Fighter Wing, who is owned by Jim Tafel.
“She tried,” said Bridgmohan of War Echo’s effort. “She ran right down to the wire and just couldn’t get them. They were going pretty slow and didn’t give her much space to work with.”
Bridgmohan, incidentally, hit the 2,000th career win milestone in the first race of the day aboard Heiligbrodt Racing’s Outfitter before adding four more during the afternoon.
Clear Sailing returned mutuels of $10, $5.20 and $2.10, accomplished the mile-and-one-sixteenth distance in 1:46.06, and increased her career earnings to $92,940 with her third win in four lifetime starts.
Fighter Wing, who made the pace with early splits of 24.45 and 48.84, paid $33.20 and $5.60 while War Echo paid $2.10 in the show position.
Racing resumes Sunday at Fair Grounds with an 11-race Valentine’s Day program beginning at 12:40 p.m.