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Stakes Recap: Allen Lacombe Memorial

What was thought to be a budding rivalry between two talented gray 3-year-old grass fillies may have blossomed into all-out war on Saturday afternoon at Fair Grounds Race Course and Slots when L T B, Inc. and Hillerich Racing’s Mizz Money claimed the better of a photo-finish in the $60,000 Allen Lacombe Memorial over Tommy Ligon and Michael Pressley’s Divine Dawn for the second consecutive race. 

Four weeks ago, Mizz Money led gate-to-wire and battled the length of the stretch in the local course and distance allowance prep for the Lacombe – holding off a fierce challenge from Divine Dawn by three-quarters of a length after setting a leisurely pace.  This time, Divine Dawn again pressed the pace, but it was Loooch Racing Stable and Chris Dunn’s Tom Amoss-trained longshot Cool Song making the running, while a well-placed Mizz Money stalked the frontrunners in fourth.  Turning for home, Divine Dawn kicked on, but the ghostly presence of her Bernie Flint-trained adversary haunted her all the way to the line, defeating her by a head under a brilliantly timed Francisco Torres ride.  Two lengths back in third was Raul Bahena’s Armando De La Cerda-trained Happy to Go, under Florent Geroux, who hit the board in a stakes for the fifth time in her seven-race career.  After Cool Song and Divine Dawn carved out fractions of :23.85, :46.79 and 1:11.23, Mizz Money finished the 7½-furlong event in 1:29.82.

            Winning for the third time in her five-race career, the Kentucky-bred daughter of the accomplished Grand Slam broodmare Abbeyville Miss remained a perfect three-for-three on grass and banked the $36,000 winner’s share of the purse to increase her earnings to $84,434.  Sent off at 4-1, Mizz Money paid $10.20, $4.40 and $3.20.  Divine Dawn, under Kerwin Clark, paid $3.20 and $2.80 at odds of 7-5, while Happy to Go paid $5.80 to show at odds of 13-1.    

            “The horse has really performed well for us on the grass and I believe she’s going to go on and be a really good one because we gave her enough time as a 2-year-old to develop herself, grow and get strong,” Flint said.  “We own the mother and we own (stallion) Unbridled Express, who is a half-brother to her mother, and he was a great horse – and we have a 2-year-old coming up.  It’s a good family.”

            “Last night I studied the race and it looked like there was going to be three or four horses to go out to the front, but this filly – every time I’ve asked her, she’s stepped up,” Torres said.

            Clark was understandably disappointed in his valiant mount’s second-place finish.  “I had a good trip.  We went a lot quicker than I wanted to go,” he said.  “Larry’s been galloping with her using a strap so she didn’t get her head down too far and that’s what I was trying to do.  We did it; we just got caught.  It’s a long stretch and I could see that shadow coming and I kept looking up for the wire.”

            Geroux, who broke from the 10-post in the 11-horse field, was pleased with his mount’s first attempt at two turns and anything other than a synthetic surface.  “It was a great trip.  The post was tough – especially going seven and a half (furlongs) – but I got her in the pocket in fifth.  It was perfect.  She tried hard, it was just her first time going two turns and on grass.”

            Tachiello, Sweet Diva, Cardinal Girl, I’m a Looker, Indian Rocket, Royal Song Dancer, King’s Ghost and Cool Song completed the Lacombe’s order of finish.