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Stakes Advance: Allen Lacombe Memorial

 A field of twelve sophomore fillies have packed the entry box for the eighth running of the $60,000 Allen Lacombe Memorial at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots.  At 7½ furlongs on the grass, the Lacombe attracted a solid field, including two stakes winners, two stakes-placed fillies and a plethora of promising local turf winners.

            Expected to attract a lot of attention at the windows are L T B Inc. and Hillerich Racing’s Bernie Flint-trained Mizz Money and Tommy Ligon and Michael Pressley’s Larry Jones-trained Divine Dawn.  First and second, respectively, in the course and distance allowance prep for the Lacombe, the two gray fillies distanced themselves from their rivals in that Feb. 8 event, while running one-two all the way around the Stall-Wilson turf course.  The speedy Mizz Money – a two-time winner at the meet – will get the return services of journeyman Francisco Torres from post two, while Divine Dawn will team again with Kerwin Clark from post nine and try to regain the form that saw her win an allowance at this trip in December. 

            Mizz Money may have some company on the front end in the form of the lone two stakes winners in the field, Michelle Brown’s Royal Song Dancer and Raul Bahena’s Happy to Go.  Royal Song Dancer, from the Delta Downs-based barn of Chad Cook, is three-for-four and won her last two races at her home course over sealed, good surfaces – including a gate-to-wire victory in the $75,000 By The Light Stakes at a two-turn seven-furlong trip.  Chris Rosier rides Royal Song Dancer from post eight.

Happy to Go, trained by Armando De La Cerda, exits a rallying second in her seasonal debut in the $50,000 OBS Sprint Stakes at Ocala Training Center and was a stakes winner one race prior at Presque Isle Downs going the same six-furlong distance.  Interestingly, the daughter of Saint Anddan has only raced in synthetic sprints in her six-race, five-stakes career – ranging from 4½ to seven furlongs – and has only finished worse than third once – a 1¼-length loss in a blanket finish in Woodbine’s $140,000 Ontario Debutante in August.  Florent Geroux is slated to ride from post 11. 

            Two stakes-placed fillies who could have something to say about this Lacombe renewal are Loooch Racing Stable and Chris Dunn’s Tom Amoss-trained Cool Song and Jerry Lee, John Moss and Harry Leatherwood’s Wes Hawley-trained Sweet Diva.  The latter was a good second in October in the $100,000 La Senorita Stakes over a grassy mile at Retama and has since had two befuddling performances – including a fifth behind Divine Dawn in a Dec. 11 allowance at the Lacombe’s course and distance.  A return to form in her third race off a layoff would be no surprise for the daughter of Purim who acquires the riding services of meet-leading jockey James Graham from the outside post 12.

            Cool Song, from the same connections as Kentucky Derby hopeful War Story, will be making her second start for Amoss after finishing an even third in Royal Song Dancer’s By The Light.  From the second crop of Dunkirk, who has been producing his fair share of turf runners, the dark bay Kentucky-bred could move forward for a trainer who strikes at a 26% rate when switching a charge from dirt to turf.  Jose Riquelme, fresh off his gate-to-wire 63-1 shocker on Windy Hill Farm’s Tuba in last Saturday’s $60,000 Black Gold Stakes over the same course and distance, rides from post four. 

            Other than Divine Dawn and Mizz Money, three other Lacombe fillies have won local two-turn turf races, including Heaven Can Wait II’s intriguing Cardinal Girl and the Brad Cox-trained duo of Miller Racing’s King’s Ghost and JBL Thoroughbreds and Dianne Hutcherson’s Arabian Queen.  Cardinal Girl, a daughter of Scat Daddy from the barn of Tim Glyshaw, is two-for-two on the grass and closed very well to beat older fillies and mares on Feb. 16 in a one-mile $30,000 claiming event – earning a race-high 72 turf Beyer Speed Figure.  Marcelino Pedroza retains the ride from the seven-hole. 

            Arabian Queen was a workmanlike winner of a one-mile Feb. 1 maiden over next-out winner La Luna Rouge.  A daughter of Desert Party, the $60,000 Ocala purchase will be ridden from post five by Willie Martinez.  King’s Ghost, a daughter of Ghostzapper who toyed with eight others when winning a $30,000 maiden claiming event by three lengths at the Lacombe’s distance on Feb. 15, is a volatile type who is a challenge to keep calm, but channeled that energy into a promising turf debut last out.  Forest Boyce picks up the ride and is scheduled to break from post 10. 

            The remainder of the Lacombe field is comprised of Rontos Racing Stable and Jerry Durant’s Steve Asmussen-trained Indian Rocket (Richard Eramia, rail), Wayne Sanders and Larry Hirsch’s Joe Sharp-trained Tachiello (Robby Albarado, post three) and Glenmare Farm’s Pat Dupuy-trained I’m a Looker (Brian Hernandez, Jr., post six).