Hot Zapper upsets String King in LCD Turf; The Pickett Factor romps in LCD Classic

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Jen Caldwell

December 13th, 2015

Fair Grounds’ Louisiana Champions Day (LCD) was supposed to be String King’s big moment as the popular seven-year-old gelding was looking to earn his fourth victory in the $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Turf.

Instead, the bay veteran found himself nipped by a nose on the wire as 21-1 Hot Zapper prevailed in the about 1 1/16-mile grass contest under jockey Jose Riquelme.

The race itself was a mess from the start, as Benwill clipped heels and lost jockey Marcelino Pedroza. It was reported on Twitter by John G. Dooley that Pedroza was removed from the course in an ambulance and was off his other mount on the day.

Benwill kept running and caused trouble early on, including forcing Four Leaf Chief to take up and bumping into the hindquarters of Gallery. The dark bay also bumped String King heading into the first turn and forced the 4-5 race favorite about seven wide. Hot Zapper took up a bit when the loose runner barreled by heading toward the front of the field, where Benwill caused pacesetter McGehee’s Mercy to take up before finally settling well out in front.

McGehee’s Mercy recovered and continued on the lead, setting splits of :24.40, :50.39 and 1:14.69. Hot Zapper was in a stalking spot just to his outside while Well’s Gold followed in third with String King to his outside.

McGehee’s Mercy kept motoring in the stretch with Hot Zapper, String King and Hopeful Notion in close pursuit. String King reached for the wire, and briefly appeared ready to complete his LCD Turf Grand Slam, but Hot Zapper refused to yield on the inside. The Andrew Leggio Jr. trainee just got his nose in front to deny String King and stop the clock over the firm turf in 1:46.17.

While unable to get the win, String King still became racing’s newest millionaire with the second-place money. His earnings now stand at $1,040,552.

Hopeful Notion followed in third, just a neck in arrears of String King, while McGehee’s Mercy was another length back in fourth.

The Pickett Factor took the other major event on the day when drawing off in the $150,000 Louisiana Champions Day Classic for a 5 1/4-length victory.

Know You Now gunned for the lead when the gates opened and drew off to a huge advantage on the backstretch through a half-mile in :23.68 and :48.84. The Pickett Factor tracked in second and made his move entering the final turn with Mobile Bay latched to his flank.

Those two easily drew off from the rest of the field, and soon The Pickett Factor began pulling away from Mobile Bay, eventually crossing under the wire in 1:51.33 for nine furlongs on the fast main track.

The dark bay gelding lived up to his 3-2 favoritism under jockey Luis Quinonez and is now 6-0-1 from eight career starts for trainer Ralph Irwin. The Pickett Factor earned his first stakes score in the Super Derby Prelude on August 8 and gained a measure of revenge here against Mobile Bay after that runner beat him in the Super Derby (G2) itself. The sophomore entered the LCD Classic off a 5 3/4-length triumph in the Gold Cup S. at Delta Downs.

Mobile Bay held on to the place spot as the 8-5 second choice, with Stormdriver 1 3/4 lengths behind in third. It was another 6 3/4 lengths back to fourth-placer One King’s Man.

Also on Louisiana Champions Day, Pacific Pink captured the $100,000 LCD Ladies S. by three parts of a length as the 1-2 favorite. Jockey Robby Albarado piloted the Edward Johnston-trained sophomore to finish 1 1/16 miles on the main track in 1:46.15.

Jockamo’s Song scored a one-length win while making his stakes bow in the $100,000 LCD Sprint with Mitchell Murrill holding the reins. Conditioned by Mike Stidham, the sophomore gelding posted a final time of 1:10.78 for six panels.

Aunt Nellie and jockey Roberto Morales upset the $100,000 LCD Lassie S. as the 27-1 second longest shot on the board. The Floyd Pitzer juvenile miss rallied for a 3 1/4-length score while stopping the clock in 1:12.36 for six furlongs.

Sea Vow earned his second straight stakes win in the $100,000 LCD Juvenile S. after scoring in the Louisiana Legacy S. at Delta Downs on November 21. The Joseph Foster trainee had Alexander Castillo aboard for that contest and the two teamed back up in this spot to be 2 1/4 lengths clear while completing six furlongs in 1:11.79.

Platinum Lady ended the stakes action on a high note when taking the $100,000 LCD Ladies Sprint S. by 1 1/4 lengths at 17-1. The Eric Heitzmann-conditioned four-year-old also gave jockey Albarado his second win on the day when finishing six furlongs in 1:11.88.

Hot Zapper and The Pickett Factor photos courtesy of Amanda Hodges Weir/Hodges Photography