John Henry S.
April 23, 2016
1 1/16 miles, Turf, for 3-Year-Olds and Upwards, $60,000

Leestown-Dynaspice, by Dynaformer
Breeder: E. O. Pickett
Owner: Royce Roberts
Trainer: Jose Mendez
Jockey: John Jacinto

Time: 1:45.03
Margins: 1, 2 1/4, 1

2nd: Easy Crossing

3rd: Next Event

OPELOUSAS, LA- Royce Roberts’ Benwill made a decisive move in the stretch of the $60,000 John Henry Stakes at Evangeline Downs on Saturday night to win by a length under the ride of John Jacinto. It was a reversal of fortune for the Jose Mendez trainee, who had not won a race since winning the Unbridled Stakes at Louisiana Downs in September 2014 following a disqualification. Benwill sat sixth in the field of nine during the early stages of the race, behind the pace-setting pair of Solitary Ranger and Next Event. That twosome carved out solid fractions of 23.51 seconds for the quarter-mile and 48.42 seconds for the half-mile. The betting favorite, Easy Crossing, had sat just off the pace before making his move on the far turn. He and Next Event went on to run together until mid-stretch where Benwill found the running room he needed to storm by both of them and win in a final time of 1:45.03 for the 1 1/16 miles over the good turf course.

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by Gary McMillen

For jockeys and their mounts, Heitai’s tail was a familiar sight at race tracks in Louisiana for the past five years.  The fans loved to see him run and they didn’t need binoculars to locate the speedy gelding.  As soon as the gates popped open, Heitai’s position was to be in front.  Heitai was so fast in the early stages of a race it was if he broke the spirit of the competition.  For the sake of fantasy, we can imagine Heitai announcing a short challenge as the field approached the starting gate: “I own the lead.  Now try and catch me.”

Owner and breeder Frank Rowell recalled the volume of advice he received to alter Heitai’s front running style.  “Throughout his career people kept advising me to rate him,” Rowell said.  “Take him back off those fast fractions was their suggestion.  But Heitai had one way of running.  If you tried to slow him down it took him off his game. 

A son of Kentucky Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus, Heitai was hard to catch at the sprint distances.  His career record is evidence.  His 16 wins, 10 seconds and 4 third place finishes came from 36 starts.  The mere numbers are more outstanding than meets the eye since most of those races were stakes events.  His dominance in Louisiana-bred sprint events was on display early when he won an allowance race at Delta Downs by 19 lengths.  In the end it all added up to career earnings of $1,074,893. “We had a whole lot of fun with this horse,” Rowell said.  “What else can you ask out of a horse?  He has more than paid his way.”   

On big stakes days across the state, Rowell’s home-bred was a familiar name amongst a sensational cadre of Louisiana-breds that included Vicar’s In Trouble, Star Guitar, String King and Sunbean.    


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Couche Couche Scores Upset Win in Rajin Cajun at EVD

Rajin Cajun S.
April 9, 2016
7 furlongs, for 3-Year-Olds, $50,000

Pulling Punches-Sassy Belle, by Doc's Leader
Breeder: Charles Titsworth
Owner: Rodney J. Verret
Trainer: Allen Landry
Jockey:S. J. Bourque

Time: 1:23.85
Margins: 7 3/4, 3 1/4, nk

2nd: Si Familia

3rd: Bill's Production

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