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Leestown Gift, Morning Memory Win Louisiana Futurity Divisions

NEW ORLEANS, La. (December 31, 2008) - Robert Orth and Wes Hawley's Leestown Gift proved to be just that as he prevailed by a neck in the $108,185 colt and gelding division of the Louisiana Futurity, the first of Wednesday's co-features at Fair Grounds.

In the $110,385 filly division of the Futurity, restricted to state-breds, Richard Ringo's Morning Memory remained unbeaten with a 2 3/4-length victory as the odds-on favorite.

Leestown Gift, ridden by Jamie Theriot, came outside the early pace in the final furlong to return $19, $9.60 and $6 to his backers. He covered the six furlongs in 1:11.39 and increased his career earnings to $101,951 with his second win from eight lifetime starts.

"I went after about six 2-year-olds in sales this year, but this horse was the only one I was able to get," said Hawley, who also trains the gelded son of Leestown.

Silent Pipe got up to be clearly second best, finishing 1 3/4 lengths in front of pacemaker Lee City Slew, and returned $8.40 and $4.40. Lee City Slew paid $6 to show after setting early fractions of 21.78 and 46.40.

In the filly division, Morning Memory, a daughter of Menifee, paid $3.60, $3, and $2.40. She set early fractions of 22.60 and 47.06 before completing the six furlongs in 1:11.72.

Jockey Donnie Meche, who escaped serious injury after a spill in Sunday's first race, returned to the winner's circle for the first time on Wednesday.

"I've had all the confidence in the world in this filly ever since I rode her in her other race at Louisiana Downs," said Meche of Morning Memory, who has earned $83,031 in her two career starts.

Wanna Cuddle finished second, returning $4 and $2.80, while longshot Catch The Buss paid $8 to show.

Racing resumes with a New Year's Day program at Fair Grounds. The 10-race program begins at 12:30 p.m. CST, with an $11,437 carryover in the Pick 6.

Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, the nation's third-oldest Thoroughbred racing facility, has been in operation since 1872. Located in New Orleans, Fair Grounds is owned by Churchill Downs Incorporated (NASDAQ Global Select Market: CHDN); it also operates a slot-machine gaming facility and nine off-track betting parlors throughout southeast Louisiana. Fair Grounds' 137th Thoroughbred season will run from Nov. 14, 2008, through March 29, 2009, and its inaugural Quarter Horse meet was conducted from Aug. 20-24, 2008. Information about Fair Grounds can be found on the Internet at www.fairgroundsracecourse.com.