Leigh Court returns to winner's circle in Mardi Gras
Under Florent Geroux, the 3-5 made all the running in the about 5 1/2-furlong turf dash. Up a length after a quarter in :22.59, the mare extended her lead to 2 1/2 lengths in mid-stretch but saw it whittled down to three-quarters of a length following a late rush from Eden Prairie, who was sent off at 16-1 despite her prior success going longer on the course.
Owned by Speedway Stable and trained by Mike Stidham, Leigh Court paid $3.20 after completing the course in 1:04.29 on firm ground.
Voted Canada's champion three-year-old filly in 2013 after registering three stakes wins, including the Ontario Colleen (G3) on turf, Leigh Court won two of three starts at four. A three-length tally in the TCA was preceded by a 2 1/2-length win in the Seaway (G3) at Woodbine, but the daughter of Grand Slam weakened to fifth in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) at Santa Anita.
Trained at that time by Josie Carroll, Leigh Court joined the Stidham barn after bringing $1 million at the 2014 Fasig-Tipton November Sale. Last season she was a narrowly-beaten second in both the Royal North (G3) and Presque Isle Downs Masters (G2), but was a disappointing last of eight in her TCA title defense.
A mare proficient on all surfaces, her options for the rest of the season are seemingly limitless.
(Lou Hodges Jr./Hodges Photography)