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La Perouse surprises in first stakes win

Saturday, February 9, 2008 12:00 AM
  • General
FLORENCE, KY . . . February 9, 2008 . . . The Likely Exchange Stakes at Turfway Park Saturday looked to be the prize for a battle down the stretch, but La Perouse stunned the battlers with a huge late run up the center of the track to win by a head. Fun Logic got the best of the stretch duel to finish second, a head better than Our Dancing Babe.

On a day when early speed held infrequently, the entire Likely Exchange Trifecta bided its time while Dashes N Dots set most of the early pace. Meting out energy over the mile course, Our Dancing Babe moved up steadily from ninth while Fun Logic made her move from mid-pack. Breaking from the far outside post in the field of 11, La Perouse broke last and was far back through half the race.

"I was beating one horse," said winning jockey Victor Lebron, who had three wins on the card. "Down the backstretch I started moving her slowly, a little bit at a time. I didn't want to push her hard just at one moment. Between the quarter and eighth poles she started giving me all she's got. I kept her a little wide so she wouldn't focus on [the stretch battle] but would just focus on running her own race."

"That's the way she trains in the morning. She wants to run off from the quarter pole to the wire," said winning trainer Daniel M. "Speedy" Smithwick Jr., who also trains Our Dancing Babe. "She ran a good race last time [finishing third at Turfway on New Year's Day], even though she got caught really, really wide. She was the only horse that closed all day that day."

Quarter-mile fractions were set at :23.46, :47.20, and 1:13.02 before La Perouse stopped the clock at 1:39.16. Sixth choice at 13-1, she paid $28.20, $11.00, and $5.80.

Fourth through 11th were Water Gap, Rayona, Adhrhythm, Elitist, Dashes N Dots, Princess Laila, Jill Indy Pulpit, and Chacana. Coya, Hayden Valley, and Steve’s Temptation scratched.

The $50,000 Likely Exchange was the first stakes win for La Perouse, a 5-year-old El Prado mare owned by Henrietta Alexander. She now has four wins, one second, and two thirds in 12 lifetime starts for earnings of $95,890.

La Perouse had run in the East until her starts at Turfway. Alexander originally intended to include her in the February Fasig-Tipton sale that begins Sunday but decided instead to keep her in training. Smithwick said she will race again at Turfway and in the spring at Arlington and Keeneland before the question of breeding is revisited.

Racing continues Sunday at Turfway, with first post at 1:10 pm.

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