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Stakes Recap: Col. E. R. Bradley | Louisiana Stakes | Marie G. Krantz

Wentworth Brochu’s course-loving Chocolate Ride tallied his fifth win from six career starts on the Stall-Wilson turf course in Saturday’s Grade III $125,000 Colonel E. R. Bradley Handicap at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots as part of a five-stakes program on Road to the Derby Kickoff Day presented by Hotel Monteleone.

Breaking a step slowly under Florent Geroux, the Brad Cox-trained son of Candy Ride quickly assumed command into the first turn through an opening quarter in 23.63 seconds. In hand while facing modest pressure up the backside, the winner clocked off splits of 48.53, 1:12.40 and 1:36.88 en route to a final time of 1:43.21 for the 1 1/16-miles distance. Three Diamonds Farm’s Mike Maker-trained Roman Approval rallied stoutly for second under Shaun Bridgmohan but fell three-quarters of a length short of the winner on the wire, with Robert Persons and Earl Conrad Sanderson Jr.’s Joe Sharp-trained Blarp rallying a half-length further back in third for rider Colby Hernandez.

“He broke a little slower than usual today, but he got a little breather around the first turn,” Geroux said. “He’s a pro and that’s what great horses are for – they win even when things don’t go their way.”

Sent to post as the public’s 4-5 wagering choice, Chocolate Ride did not disappoint bettors, returning $3.60, $2.80 and $2.60. Roman Approval paid $5.80 and $3.80, with Blarp returning $7.40.

Chocolate Ride won for the sixth time in 15 career starts and ran his record under Cox’s care to 5-for-8 while landing his third graded stakes win – all over the turf course at Fair Grounds – since being claimed for $40,000 in November 2014. The $75,000 winner’s share pushed his career earnings to $446,191.

Flashlight, String King, Potomac River, Sky Flight, Hot Zapper and Ibaka completed the running order.

Earlier in the card, it was another “horse for the course,” Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey’s International Star returning to the winner’s circle when capturing the Listed $75,000 Louisiana Stakes.

The Mike Maker-trained 4-year-old son of Fusaichi Pegasus was named co-Horse of the Meet during the 2014-2015 season when sweeping all three graded stakes races for sophomores, the Grade III Lecomte, Grade II Risen Star and the Grade II Louisiana Derby. Scratched on the morning of the Grade I Kentucky Derby, he had raced only once when a distant fourth in the Zia Park Derby in late November.

Settled off early splits of 24.46, 48.42 and 1:13.10, International Star hugged the rail on the far turn under jockey Miguel Mena before switching out in the stretch to collar the favorite, William S. Farish’s Neil Howard-trained Eagle, and opening up late for a 1½-length tally in 1:44.44 for the 1 1/16-miles trip on the main track. Eagle, ridden by Brian Hernandez, Jr. was well clear of third-place finisher Ride On Curlin who stayed on at one pace in the stretch under Patrick Valenzuela, 6¼ lengths further back for owner Daniel Dougherty and trainer William Gowan.

“He’s a nice horse. Mike (Maker) was telling me how good he was doing and he likes this racetrack,” Mena said. “We were on the rail on the turn and I swung him out so he wouldn’t get stopped today and he was full of run.”

Hernandez offered no excuses for Eagle’s runner-up finish. “We had a great trip. I thought I was on the best horse. We made the lead easily and I was surprised when (International Star) went by, but my horse fought back.”

Winning for the fourth time from as many starts at the New Orleans oval and sixth time from 11 lifetime starts, International Star earned $47,250 to boost his career bankroll to $1,066,629.  

International Star was sent to post as the third wagering choice, returning $7.80, $3.60 and $2.60 with Eagle paying $2.80 and $2.40. Ride On Curlin paid $3.40.

Coup de Grace crossed the wire in fourth but was disqualified to fifth for causing interference. Majestic Harbor and Bashaar completed the running order.

In other undercard action, Elm Racing’s Street of Gold overcame a modest pace to capture the $60,000 Marie G. Krantz Memorial Stakes over 1 1/16 miles on the Stall-Wilson turf course.

Ridden by Robby Albarado for trainer Brad Cox, the 5-year-old daughter of Street Sense settled inside around the first turn behind splits of 23.95, 49.09 and 1:13.44 before launching a bid on the far turn, angling out and wearing down Mizz Money in the final yards for a half-length tally in 1:43.94.

“She broke a little alertly today, better than last time,” Albarado said. “I was up against a slow pace again today which makes it a little more special, but I ran down a nice filly (Mizz Money) today.”

Hillerich Racing’s Bobby Barnett-trained Mizz Money sat closely throughout under Jesus Castanon and was determined throughout the lane while holding off Wayne Sanders and Larry Hirsch’s Haunted Heroine, who stayed on well under Richard Eramia for third, clear by 1½ lengths.

Street of Gold won for the fifth time in 34 lifetime starts, earning $36,000 to build her bankroll to $273,975 and returning $5, $3.20 and $2.80 as the race favorite. Mizz Money paid $10.60 and $8.60, and Haunted Heroine returned $7.80.

Fila Primera, Treaty Oak, Zubi Zubi Zu, Zeven, Prayed For, Tipthetrolleygirl, Discreetly Grand, Masquerade and Colour Party completed the order of finish.