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Chocolate Ride Untouchable in Grade III Fair Grounds Handicap Repeat; Cash Control Gets the Money in Daisy Devine

Wentworth Brochu’s Chocolate Ride turned in another powerhouse effort to further cement his position as king of the Stall-Wilson turf course when defending his title in the Grade III $125,000 Fair Grounds Handicap Saturday at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots on Louisiana Derby Preview Day presented by Veterans Ford.

Chocolate Ride again found his way to the front under rider Florent Geroux and was able to carve out manageable splits of 24.31, 49.72, 1:13.91 and 1:37.48 before completing the 1 1/8-miles trip in 1:49.31 while three-quarters of a length clear. The 6-year-old son of Candy Ride had his coming out party in last year’s Fair Grounds Handicap for trainer Brad Cox when capturing his first stakes race and on Saturday won his third graded stakes since over the Fair Grounds turf course.

"You never know how these races are going to unfold, but we had the best horse,” Geroux said. “He can run on the lead or take off it. He's a very tough horse, especially on this turf course. He's very hard to catch. Brad and his team have done a great job with him keeping him healthy and happy.”

Trainer Cox echoed the sentiment. “It's been a big day and it's all about the help. They do a tremendous job and winning today is a reflection of their hard work. He loves this turf course. It worked out today and he's really doing well.”

Three Diamonds Farm’s Mike Maker-trained Roman Approval, second to Chocolate Ride in last month’s Grade III Colonel E. R. Bradley, again had to settle for second best behind the course specialist, rallying from near the back under Javier Castellano while finishing a length clear of Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider’s Departing, who tracked the pace under John Velazquez and salvaged third for trainer Al Stall, Jr.

"I didn't have the best trip,” Castellano said. “I saved ground, but unfortunately, the pace was slow and the winner took advantage."

"He ran great. He needs to run away from the gate,” Maker added. “If I can (have that happen), he'll be okay."

Chocolate Ride earned $75,000 for the win to boost his career bankroll to $521,191 while winning for the seventh time from 17 trips to post.

The winner returned $4.60, $2.60 and $2.40 as the 1.30-1 favorite, with Roman Approval paying $3.40 and $2.80. Departing returned $2.80.

String King and Pumpkin Rumble finished fourth and fifth respectively, with Same As and Blarp dead-heating for sixth. Wireless Future and Potomac River completed the order of finish.

Two races prior, a pair of runners with an affinity for winter racing in New Orleans provided a stretch battle to remember with Richard and Bertram Klein’s Brad Cox-trained Cash Control proving victorious by a head from L. T. B., Inc. and Hillerich Racing’s Bernie Flint-trained Mizz Money in the $60,000 Daisy Devine Stakes at 1 1/16 miles on the Stall-Wilson turf course.

Under Shaun Bridgmohan, Cash Control spied Mizz Money’s speed in the early stages through reasonable splits of 24.12, 49.49 and 1:14.13 before wearing that rival down in the last jumps in a final time of 1:43.12. The 5-year-old daughter of Pioneerof the Nile won for the seventh time in a dozen career starts and earned $37,200 to increase her career bankroll to $245,700.

“She ran a really nice race,” said Bridgmohan. “She was very comfortable and when I squeezed on her at the quarter pole she gave me what she had and ran very hard. She's a fighter.” 

Cash Control returned $7.20, $3.60 and $3.40. Mizz Money paid $6.20 and $3.40, while Street of Gold, 1¾ lengths further back in third, returned $2.80.

Race favorite Notte d’Oro, Fila Primera, Run Zippy Run and Prayed For completed the order of finish.