(Touchuponastar / Photo Courtesy of the Fair Grounds)

From the Fair Grounds Media Team / Kevin Kilroy:

  • Tumbarumba’s Class Clashes with Touchuponastar’s Commanding Speed in Classic
  • West’s Band of “G” Siblings Return To Find Wilson’s Barn Targeting Fillies and Mares Features
  • Advances for Saturday’s Nine Louisiana Champions Day Stakes Totaling $850,000 in Purses

Saturday, Dec. 9 marks the 33rd edition of Louisiana Champions Day at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, and all six stakes winners from Louisiana Championships Preview Weekend are entered. They’ll face familiar foes looking to avenge opening weekend’s loss and fresh runners from across “The Boot.” The intrastate rivals will line up in the gates of one of the nine stakes, all racing for a share of the $850,000 combined purse total.

Louisiana Champions Day will pick up on several storylines which began over opening weekend’s six stakes. But the most anticipated race introduces a new showdown into the mix: Touchuponastar versus Tumbarumba. Both bred by Coteau Grove Farm, both graded-stakes placed, the two will battle for the first time in Saturday’s $150,000 Louisiana Champions Day Classic, as Set-Hut’s Touchuponastar looks to run it back after his dominant performance in the 2022 edition.

The $50,000 Louisiana Champions Day Ladies Starter kicks off Saturday’s 13-race card with a revised noon CT post time. Three 50-cent Pick 5s with 15% takeout will be offered beginning in Race 1, Race 4, and Race 9. The non-jackpot, $1 Pick 6 with 15% takeout will begin in Race 8 with the $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Turf.

Tumbarumba’s Class Clashes with Touchuponastar’s Commanding Speed in Louisiana Champions Day Classic

A field of six 3-year-olds and up entered the 33rd running of the $150,000 Louisiana Champions Day Classic. Two of them are prize fighters who have thrown their La-bred weight around across the stateline, as Touchuponastar and Tumbarumba will rumble in the Bayou on Saturday–their first-ever meeting and only the second time each racehorse has attempted the Classic distance of 1 1/18 miles.

For the past eighteen months, no Thoroughbred in Louisiana has been able to keep up with the commanding speed of Set-Hut’s Touchuponastar. Trained by Jeff Delhomme, the 3-5 morning line favorite has nine wins from 12 starts, including the 2022 Classic, and has never finished out of the money. Facing open company for the first time last May at Lone Star in the Steve Sexton Mile (G3), Frosted Grace proved too much, but last out on Nov. 3, the 4-year-old son of Star Guitar defeated out-of-state rivals including Miles D and Five Star General in the $100,000 Delta Mile.

Touchuponastar’s main rival Tumbarumba has done nothing but face open company throughout his sophomore campaign. In the care of conditioner Brian Lynch, Amerman Racing’s son of Oscar Performance has proven his class across Kentucky. Beating the likes of Scotland, Damon’s Mound, and Denington when winning allowance races at Churchill Downs, Keeneland, and the Ellis Park Derby, Tumbarumba also proved he has a champion’s heart, dueling victoriously time and again through the final stages of those races.

“He loves to get engaged,” Lynch said. “He seems to always find more.”

In September’s Oklahoma Derby (G3), Tumbarumba stretched out to 1 1/8 miles and finished third, in front of Raise Cain, Cagliostro, and Hit Show, but a head shy of How Did He Do That.

“He can get the mile and one-eighth,” Lynch said. “He showed that there in the Oklahoma Derby. He fought hard to the wire there. He can duplicate something like that at least. We’re hoping for no rain. (Tumbarumba) wasn’t a big fan of the off track at Ellis this summer and I see they’re calling for some on Saturday.”

Scheduled as Race 5 with a 2:00 p.m. post time, here is the complete field for the Louisiana Champions Day Classic from the rail out (with jockey, trainer, and morning line odds): 1. Touchuponastar (Tim Thornton, Jeff Delhomme, 3-5); 2. Behemah Star (Jose Guerrero, Shane Wilson, 8-1); 3. Bayou Jam (CJ McMahon, Jonah Fuselier, 30-1); 4. Tumbarumba (Florent Geroux, Brian Lynch, 2-1); 5. Cosmic Train (Gerard Melancon, Jerry Delhomme, 20-1); 6. Mangum (Corey Lanerie, Jeff Delhomme, 6-1).

 

West’s Band of “G” Siblings Return To Find Wilson’s Barn Targeting Fillies and Mares Features

After finishing a game second in each of the three opening day stakes, Patricia West’s band of half-sibling fillies have unfinished business, as A G’s Charlotte, Olivia G, and Tommie G are entered on Louisiana Champions Day at Fair Grounds. But Shane Wilson’s barn is locked in, stocked up, and ready to barrel past Saturday’s statebred foes.

It was almost déjà vu on opening day of the 2023-2024 meet at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots. Saddling the second-place finisher in each of the three filly stakes, Patricia West nearly repeated the success which came a year prior. Opening day 2022 she took the $75,000 Big World (renamed the John Valene for 2023) with A G’s Charlotte, then scored the natural double when Norah G won on debut. But tough racing luck spelled out troubled or pace-compromised trips for each of Thomas Galvin’s homebred stakes fillies out of the Indygo Shiner mare Adrianne G.

“It was good. It could’ve been great,” West said. “If we could have had just a touch better luck, it could’ve been different.”

On Saturday, West’s band of fillies will have a chance to top her impressive 2022 opening day double, as the Louisiana Champions Day races they’re entered in line up for a shot at the natural triple. Each with a purse of $100,000, the Distaff is carded as Race 9, the Ladies Sprint as Race 10, and the Lassie as Race 11.

Besides the newly-minted millionaire Free Like a Girl, who is cross-entered in the Distaff and the Ladies Sprint, West’s trio will be challenged by the formidable Brittlyn Stable homebreds in the latter two contests as trainer Shane Wilson entered both Ova Charged and Spirited Beauty in the Ladies Sprint and Clearly a Test in the Lassie.

A G’s Charlotte Distaff Repeat Hinges on Revenge

Looking to reign victorious on a second Louisiana Champions Day, Thomas Galvin’s A G’s Charlotte will defend her $100,000 Distaff title against seven 3-year-old and up fillies and mares going 1 1/16 miles. But the Mo Tom 4-year-old will have to get the better of D and S Stables’ Vale Male who seized the day when no other runner was sent to the front in opening day’s Valene Memorial.

“Maybe we should’ve gone to the lead last time,” West said. “There will be a little more speed in this race. But more distance will help her out.”

Since removing blinkers earlier in the year, A G’s Charlotte has two wins and three seconds from six races.

“I think she is the same with or without blinkers,” West said. “She runs the way she runs.”

Scheduled as Race 9 with a 4:00 p.m. post time, here is the complete field for the Louisiana Champions Day Distaff from the rail out (with jockey, trainer, and morning line odds): 1. Wholelottamo (Florent Geroux, Jayde Gelner, 10-1); 2. Free Like a Girl (Vicente Del-Cid, Chasey Pomier, 3-1); 3. Star Moment (Corey Lanerie, Bret Calhoun, 4-1); 4. Cheapskate Diva (Carlos L. Marquez, Joseph Felks, 15-1); 5. A G’s Charlotte (Marcelino Pedroza Jr., Patricia West, 5-2); 6. Fort Polk (Emanuel Nieves, Pat Mouton, 12-1); 7. Vale Male (James Graham, James Hodges, 6-1); 8. Sabra Tuff (Brian Hernandez Jr., Dallas Stewart, 9-2).

Second to Many, Olivia G Tasked with Outsprinting Ova Charged

Galvin and West will have a chance at another natural double, but this time with siblings, as Olivia G enters the $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Ladies Sprint looking to turn the tables on the newly-minted millionaire Free Like a Girl.

“Free Like a Girl only beat us by 3/4-length,” West said. “We couldn’t get out of traffic until the quarter pole. If she could’ve gotten through, that would’ve been interesting.”

A talented and honest filly, the 3-year-old Oliva G racked up five place-finishes before breaking her maiden in October at Delta Downs. Four of her eight career starts were in stakes, including the Doris Hebert on opening day, her first time racing with the confidence of a win under her belt.

“I’ve always had confidence in Olivia G, since last year,” West said. “Both in Norah G (3-year-old stablemate) and her, but the question was always who was better between the two. Now I’m back to my original confidence (in Olivia G).”

Fellow Ladies Sprint foes Beleout, Free Drop Maddy, and Miss Priority exit the Hebert where they finished third, fourth, and sixth, respectively.

To be the Ladies Sprint champion you’ve got to beat the Ladies Sprint champion, and that title decidedly belongs to Ova Charged. Brittlyn Stable’s star filly has won the last two editions of this race, and she enters for a third alongside her stablemate Spirited Beauty. Both trained by the current meet-leader Shane Wilson, and both working lights out.

“The rain last week messed up our schedule just a bit,” Wilson said. “I wanted to work her on Sunday, come back the following Sunday, and then race 6 days later. It rained and rained so we skipped that one and came back with one solid work last Wednesday. She went (5 furlongs) in a minute and some change, galloped out in 1:12.”

Ova Charged will be making her first start from Wilson’s barn. Having mopped the floor over the past two years with any statebred filly who would face her, the 5-year-old Star Guitar mare tried La-bred males at Fair Grounds last March only to finish fourth. She headed to Keeneland in April for her subsequent race, but failed to pass the open company acid-test, finishing seven lengths back in sixth.

“(Ova Charged) came out of the race at Keeneland with some small issues so they kicked her out and gave her a little break,” Wilson said. “She’s been bulletproof since she’s been back.”

In her one prior start with Wilson, the 5-year-old Star Guitar mare Spirited Beauty tried blinkers for the first time and failed to factor in August’s Louisiana’s Cup Filly and Mare Sprint at Louisiana Downs.

“Spirited Beauty is a beautiful horse. She’s tall, wide, long, a gorgeous filly,” Wilson said. “She didn’t break well from the gates the last couple of times she raced, so we just stopped, let her get away from the track and get her mind straight. She’s come back with two bullet workouts. She should compliment Ova Charged very well because she’ll be coming with her run at the end where Ova will be pressing the pace.”

Scheduled as Race 10 with a 4:30 p.m. post time, here is the complete field for the Louisiana Champions Day Ladies Sprint from the rail out (with jockey, trainer, and morning line odds): 1. Free Drop Maddy (CJ McMahon, Bret Calhoun, 12-1); 2. Olivia G (Marcelino Pedroza Jr., Patricia West, 6-1); 3. Basalt Street (Jareth Loveberry, Gary Scherer, 8-1); 4. Ova Charged (Jose Guerrero, Shane Wilson, 3-1); 5. Free Like a Girl (Vicente Del-Cid, Chasey Pomier, 5-2); 6. Snowball (Brian Hernandez Jr., Samuel Breaux, 10-1); 7. Spirited Beauty (Corey Lanerie, Shane Wilson, 8-1); 8. Beleout (Rey Gutierrez, Courtney Dandridge Jr., 6-1); 9. Miss Priority (Gerard Melancon, Paul Duhon, 20-1); 10. Speedy Dudette (Aubrie Green, Joe Duhon, 20-1).

Wilson Grades Clearly A Test 100% Ahead of Lassie

In the finale of the three Louisiana Champions Day fillies and mares affairs, trainers Shane Wilson and Patricia West’s fillies will have more than just each to worry about, as 13 juveniles are signed on to six dirt furlongs in the $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Lassie.

Having broken her maiden even though not fully cranked last out in the Donovan L. Ferguson, the 7-2 morning line favorite Clearly a Test will lay it all on the line this time and likely benefit from her outside draw in post No. 11.  Compromised by her rail draw after breaking towards the back in the Ferguson, Jose Guerrero guided Clearly a Test through a full field of traffic to have her positioned at the top of the stretch for a clear run to the wire.

“I wasn’t sure she was fit enough for (the Ferguson),” Wilson said. “I got one 3/8ths and two halves in her ahead of that one. It worked out when she didn’t break well and Jose had to sit behind horses and wait, he just swung her out and made one 3/8ths run with her. She’s a big strong filly and now that she has one race in her, we have to lead her to the track, lead her back. She went to the gates this morning and boy she was mad when she came out of the gates and didn’t get to run.”

Though entering her third stake, Thomas Galvin’s Tommie G is still a maiden. Overcoming a tough break from the gates herself, the last piece of Patricia West’s “G” puzzle ran well to finish second in the Ferguson. The half-sibling of A G’s Charlotte and Olivia G also showed her talent when finishing third in the Louisiana Jewel in her race prior.

Scheduled as Race 11 with a 5:00 p.m. post time, here is the complete field for the Louisiana Champions Day Lassie from the rail out (with jockey, trainer, and morning line odds): 1. Ready for Thunder (Edgar Morales, Chasey Pomier, 30-1); 2. Sarah’s Court (Gerard Melancon, Allan Kanfer, 15-1); 3. Emily’s Bullet (Vicente Del-Cid, Chasey Pomier, 10-1); 4. Tommie G (Marcelino Pedroza Jr., Patricia West, 10-1); 5. Tap Galore (Jareth Loveberry, Jayde Gelner, 8-1); 6. Accommodate Eva (Brian Hernandez Jr., Dallas Stewart, 8-1); 7. Undercover Girl (Corey Lanerie, Brad Cox, 4-1); 8. Guitar Solo (Joel Dominguez, Allen Landry, 9-2); 9. Lightofmaine (CJ McMahon, Bret Calhoun, 20-1); 10. She Smiled At Me (Thomas Pompell, Brett Brinkman, 12-1); 11. Clearly a Test (Jose Guerrero, Shane Wilson, 7-2); 12. One Line Ruler (Tim Thornton, Carrol Castille, 15-1); 13. Astrology Girl (Aubrie Green, Andrea Ali, 30-1).

Classic Cross-entered Behemah Star Likely to Opt for Turf, Who Took the Money

Whether it be in the Classic over the $100,000 Turf, cross-entered Behemah Star will have to take on the Pelican State’s foremost surface specialist on Louisiana Champions Day. Touchuponastar is ready and waiting to defend his Classic title. Allied Racing Stables Who Took the Money gives his best late kick across the sod, and he has back-to-back Turf titles to prove it. Winless as a 5-year-old, what does Behemah Star have? A new pilot in Jose Guerrero, a hot barn with Shane Wilson, and an excellent turf effort to build from.

“I’m leaning towards the Turf,” Wilson said. “He ran a big number at Evangeline on the turf. We’re in this to win, and you can’t beat Touchuponastar. Tumbarumba looks tough, too.”

This will be Behemah Star’s fourth start since Brittlyn Stable began transferring horses to Wilson’s barn. Since last year’s Classic, Behemah has lost to Touchuponastar four times, but since joining Wilson it has been Set-Hut’s other standout, Mangum who has got the best of Behemah twice. Last out in the Jacob V. Morreale, Mangum scored the upset with an up-close stalking trip more in line with what Wilson was hoping for his entry, who lagged behind and then ran into trouble trying to close in the homestretch.

Whichever race his connections choose, on Saturday Behemah Star will receive the services of a new rider, Jose Guerrero. Already with six wins, Guerrero came to Fair Grounds this year to be first call for Wilson, who currently leads all trainers with the same six wins.

“Jose won over 100 races with us the last two summers between Evangeline and Louisiana Downs,” Wilson said. “Just out of our barn. Me and him, we come back and watch replays of the horses who are riding today. We study the program and make a plan and go out there and win races.”

Winless from two turf attempts, both at the Turf’s 1 1/16 miles distance, Behemah Star drew post No. 7 and was assessed with 8-1 odds in the morning line.

Scheduled as Race 8 with a 3:30 p.m. post time, here is the complete field for the Louisiana Champions Day Turf from the rail out (with jockey, trainer, and morning line odds): 1. Silver Galaxy (Gerard Melancon, Paul Duhon, 10-1); 2. Budro Talking (Corey Lanerie, Sturgis Ducoing, 9-2); 3. Sonya Knows Better (CJ McMahon, Jonah Fuselier, 30-1); 4. Real City Speed (Ben Curtis, Jayde Gelner, 6-1); 5. Woods N Water (Thomas Pompell, Lee Thomas, 3-1); 6. Regal Kingdom (Jareth Loveberry, Graham Motion, 8-1); 7. Behemah Star (Jose Guerrero, Shane Wilson, 8-1); 8. Who Took the Money (Deshawn Parker, Bret Calhoun, 9-5).

Thomas’ Dynamic Duo Return In Contentious, Full-field Sprint 

Trainer Lee Thomas’s dynamic sprinting duo Mike J and Langs Day will look to run a high low offensive attack against Bron and Brow as a full field of fourteen clash in the $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Sprint.

Piloted by James Graham in the Larry D. Robideaux, Keith Plaisance’s deep closer Langs Day attempted to make an out-of-the-clouds move to be first across the wire after falling more than 15 lengths back. He missed by a thin lip.

“I love watching him run,” Thomas said. “He almost had it last time. James said he’ll get the timing worked out.”

Sent off as the top choice in the same race, Robin Lane Thoroughbreds’ Mike J took the opposite route. An all-out, guns-blazing speedster, suited well by his regular rider Aubrie Green, Mike J scorched the earth on the lead in the Robideaux, while dueling with Scooteria, and was able to hang on for fourth. The Sky Mesa 4-year-old always runs his race and never quits, evidenced by his eight in the money finishes at the Sprint’s 6-furlong distance.

“We loved having the rail with him last time but Scooteria came after him and applied the pressure,” Thomas said. “But we don’t mind the 11-hole for Saturday. He doesn’t need to run straight out of the gate. He’ll be able to cut across from there to find his spot and save ground.”

Drawn to the far outside of the contentious field of 14, Gary Barber’s forward yet tactical Bron and Brow was made the 7-2 morning line favorite. Not having raced since finishing seventh in an open company allowance in July at Ellis Park, the 5-time winner trained by Mark Casse will have to overcome the post with the services of Rey Gutierrez.

“He had a nice summer, finishing five lengths back from Hoist the Gold at Ellis,” David Carroll said, Casse’s assistant trainer on the grounds. “They didn’t do us any favors with the post draw. It’s a tough assignment.”

The 32-1 winner of the Robideaux, Autumns Strong Man enters the Sprint in top form for trainer and owner Gary Husak. With his winning pilot Angel Suarez at home healing his dislocated elbow, the 4-year-old will be piloted by Jose Riquelme. Another major contender is Set-Hut’s Jacob V. Morreale winner, Mangum. Cross-entered in both the Sprint and the Classic, after winning routing in the Morreale his trainer Jeff Delhomme said they wanted to see how he measured against Who Took the Money and Behemah Star, but he was leaning towards the sprint for his star 3-year-old on Championship Day.

Scheduled as race 12 with a 5:30 p.m. post time, here is the complete field for the Louisiana Champions Day Sprint from the rail out (with jockey, trainer, and morning line odds): 1. Hooray Austin (David Cohen, Sean Alfortish, 12-1); 2. Langs Day (James Graham, Lee Thomas, 6-1); 3. Allnight Moonlight (Ben Curtis, David Terre, 12-1); 4. Unified Report (Brian Hernandez Jr., Dallas Stewart, 20-1); 5. Helaire (Emanuel Nieves, Pat Mouton, 20-1); 6. Scooteria (Jose Guerrero, Shane Wilson, 15-1); 7. Autumns Strong Man (Jose Riquelme, Gary Husak, 12-1); 8. Highland Creek (CJ McMahon, Bret Calhoun, 6-1); 9. Brian’s Iron Mike (Tim Thornton, Allen Landry, 15-1); 10. Fiesty Fist (Gerard Melancon, Carrol Castille, 30-1); 11. Mike J (Aubrie Green, Lee Thomas, 8-1); 12. Jax Man (Jaime Torres, Sam David Jr., 12-1); 13. Mangum (Corey Lanerie, Jeff Delhomme, 5-1); 14. Bron and Brow (Rey Gutierrez, Mark Casse, 7-2).

El Dinero Looks for Clean Trip Facing Spinning Aces in Juvenile

After taking blows from his foes out of the gates in the Joseph R. Peluso, Tav Enterprises’ El Dinero produced a last to first rail rally to win the second stake of his young career by a length. Three of El Dinero’s Peluso rivals enter the looking to find the upper hand. Of his eight foes in Saturday’s $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Juvenile, there’s only one the Patrick Devereux Jr’ trainee has not faced, and that’s Mike Diliberto’s 5-2 morning line favorite, Spinning Aces. owned by  Lynne Boutte and trained by Allen Landry, the gelded son of Hard Aces has two wins in three lifetime starts, including his last-out Jean Lafitte score by a neck. That was going 7 furlongs in the slop at Delta Downs. Nine juveniles will go 6 furlongs on Saturday in Race 7, hoping to assert themselves atop the division.

Scheduled to go off at 3:00 p.m., here is the complete field for the Louisiana Champions Day Juvenile from the rail out (with jockey, trainer, and morning line odds): 1. Good and Stout (CJ McMahon, Carrol Castille, 4-1); 2. Prodigy Paradise (Corey Lanerie, Bret Calhoun, 12-1); 3. Sounds Like Power (Deshawn Parker, Jayde Gelner, 12-1); 4. Rising Koto Star (Aubrie Green, Gary Husak, 20-1); 5. Hymn for Carlos (Vicente Del-Cid, Chasey Pomier, 20-1); 6. El Dinero (James Graham, Patrick Devereux Jr., 5-1); 7. Stovall (Rey Gutierrez, Samuel Breaux, 8-1); 8. Strong Promise (Florent Geroux, Jayde Gelner, 3-1); 9. Spinning Aces (Joel Dominguez, Allen Landry, 5-2).

Five Ladies Starters Look to Deny Thetruthisthetruth

Greg Hunter’s Thetruthisthetruth enters the $50,000 Louisiana Champions Day Ladies Starter having won eight of her last nine races. Five older fillies and mares signed on to face the 2-1 morning line favorite, as they try to put an end to the Orrin Cogburn trainee’s four-race win streak.

Written for 5 1/2 furlongs across the main track, post time is noon for the Louisiana Champions Day Ladies Starter. Here is the complete field from the rail out (with jockey, trainer, and morning line odds): 1. Track Smart (Joel Dominguez. Isai Gonzalez, 3-1); 2. For Real Alice  (Vicente Del-Cid, Floyd Pitzer, 9-2); 3. Serape (Thomas Pompell, Brett Brinkman, 5-1); 4. Myfriendsawinner (Marcelino Pedroza Jr. Jonas Gibson, 4-1); 5. Thetruthisthetruth (Jansen Melancon, Orrin Cogburn, 2-1); 6. Blessed Anna (Jaime Torres, Jonas Gibson, 6-1).

Broberg Enters Blockade In Dixie Street’s Starter Encore 

Karl Broberg entered two in the $50,000 Louisiana Champions Day Starter, including the 5-2 morning line favorite, Bootsie’s Galaxy. Together with stablemate Hail State, the End Zone Athletics-owned duo make up one-third of the field of six older males who will go 5 1/2 furlongs on the dirt track.

Vanessa Motta’s Dixie Street entered looking to win this race for the second year in a row. Though the 6-year-old has not been able to run back to the 93 Brisnet Speed figure he earned when winning the 2022 edition, the Sean Alfortish trainee has won five of his eight races since that effort.

Slated as Race 3, post time is 1:00 p.m. Here is the complete field for the Louisiana Champions Day Starter from the rail out (with jockey, trainer, and morning line odds): 1. Charli Michael (Ben Curtis, David Terre, 8-1); 2. Bootsie’s Galaxy (Rey Gutierrez, Karl Broberg, 5-2); 3. Dixie Street (Jaime Torres, Sean Alfortish, 7-2); 4. Sharp Charlie (Joel Dominguez, Jorge Lara, 3-1); 5. Hail State (Tim Thornton, Karl Broberg, 8-1); 6. Izzy’s Baby Boy (Vicente Del-Cid, Juan Larrosa, 7-2).