By Ryan Martin —-
MR. MISUNDERSTOOD CONTINUES TURF DOMINATION IN WOODCHOPPER
NEW ORLEANS (December 30, 2017) – Flurry Racing Stables LLC’s Mr. Misunderstood added yet another turf stakes victory to his resume and is now an unbeaten 8-for-8 on the grass after scoring a victory in Saturday’s $75,000 Woodchopper Stakes, which is run a distance of one mile over the Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots’ Stall-Wilson Turf Course.
Piloted by Shaun Bridgmohan, the 3-year-old son of Archaracharch sat fourth off of a pace led by 69-1 longshot St. Louie Guy who set opening fractions of 24.25, 489.09 and 1:13.44 while Kitten’s Cat laid two lengths behind him in second. Approaching the far turn, St. Louie Guy began to give way as Kitten’s Cat then took control of the pace. Meanwhile, Mr. Misunderstood began to inch his way closer to the front and finally took the lead from Kitten’s Cat at the top of the stretch where he kicked away from the rest of the Woodchopper field to win by 1¾ lengths over First Premio and Kitten’s Cat who ran second and third, respectively.
“He’s professional,” Bridgmohan said. “He makes my job easy, I was just the passenger. He was impressive today.”
In addition to an undefeated record on grass, the Brad Cox-trainee earned his fifth consecutive stakes win in the Woodchopper. He previously scored victories in Louisiana Downs’ Super Derby Prelude Stakes on Aug. 5 and the Super Derby on Sept. 9. Following his pair of triumphs over the Shreveport oval, he shipped back to his home base at Churchill Downs to take the Jefferson Cup on Sept. 30 followed by the Gr. III Commonwealth Turf on Nov. 11, his lone graded stakes triumph.
“He ran really well today,” Cox said. “Shaun rode him well and put him in the right position. We backed him back up to a mile in this race and he handled it well. He’s very impressive on the turf. We’ll see how he comes out of it. We won’t come back in the ($125,000) Colonel E.R. Bradley (on Jan. 13), but we may look at the (Gr. III $150,000) Fair Grounds Handicap (on Feb. 17) and go from there.”
Mr. Misunderstood earned $45,000 from his win in the Woodchopper which enhanced his lifetime earnings to $409,694. In 13 career starts he has made nine trips to the winner’s circle and has won over four different turf courses.
Mr. Misunderstood rewarded his backers in payouts of $5, $3.20 and $2.80. First Premio returned $6.20 and $5 while Kitten’s Cat returned $6.40.
The field for the Woodchopper was completed by Just Move On, Cowboy Culture, It’s Your Nickel, Caribou Club, Big Bend, Oxford Lane, Don’task Don’ttell and St. Louie Guy
HALLIE BELLE TAKES STEP UP IN CLASS; WINS PAGO HOP
Godolphin Racing LLC’s Hallie Belle made her stakes debut a winning one when she took the 34th running of the $75,000 Pago Hop Stakes, run a distance of one mile over the Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots’ Stall-Wilson Turf Course.
Ridden patiently by Robby Albarado, the 3-year-old daughter of Medaglia d’Oro sat third in the early stages of the race while Into Summer assumed the pacesetting role and produced slow opening fractions of 24.18 and 48.11. 33-1 long shot Hotshot Anna sat just off the lead in second and Hallie Belle tracked in third. At the three-quarter pole Hotshot Anna took a narrow lead and set the pace in 1:11.89, but the eventual winner began to make a move at the top of the stretch and asserted herself to the front. Into Summer battled Hallie Belle the whole way home but it was not enough to outrun the winner, who took the Pago Hop by a neck in a time of 1:36.14. Into Summer finished second while lukewarm favorite Sensitive closed late to get the show spot.
“It was a mile race and I got her into it because it was a mile,” Albarado said. “You got to get them into the race when it’s a mile otherwise they can fall too far back. I knew she would get the distance pretty easily. If it had been a mile-and-a-sixteenth or a mile-and-an-eighth she would have been ridden a little differently, I would’ve waited on her. She did enough today.”
The Pago Hop was the third straight victory for Hallie Belle, who entered Saturday’s race off of an allowance win over the Stall-Wilson Turf Course on Nov. 24 after a six-length maiden win over the Keeneland lawn in October. She is trained by Mike Stidham, who scored his third victory in the Pago Hop having won previous editions of the race with Frankly My Dear (2000) and Fila Primera (2016).
“She was jumping from the (a-other-than allowance) condition to this,” Stidham said. “We always thought that if she was talented enough and as long as she stayed sound and mentally healthy that she could be a stakes winner. With this three-year-old race at the end of the year it was the right thing to do. It all worked out.”
Hallie Belle returned $9.40, $6 and $3.40 while Into Summer returned $7 and $3.80. Sensitive retuned $2.80.
She earned $23,860 from her Pago Hop Stakes triumph, which increased her lifetime earnings to $119,300.
Completing the order of finish were Fault, Sully’s Dream, Hotshot Anna, Rum Go and Gentle Kitten.
Cover Photo: Hallie Belle; Hodges Photography/Lou Hodges, Jr
About Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots
Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, the nation’s third-oldest racetrack, has been in operation since 1872. Located in New Orleans, LA, Fair Grounds is owned by Churchill Downs Incorporated (NASDAQ Global Select Market: CHDN); it also operates a slot-machine gaming facility and 11 off-track betting parlors throughout southeast Louisiana. The 146th Thoroughbred Racing Season – highlighted by the 105thrunning of the Louisiana Derby – will run from November 18, 2017 through March 31, 2018. More information can be found online at www.FairGroundsRaceCourse.com.