Pyro muscled his way to the lead in the stretch and ran off with a 3-length victory in the $600,000 Louisiana Derby on Saturday, reaffirming his status as a leading contender for the Kentucky Derby.
The colt made easy work of eight rivals for his second impressive win of the year, both at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans. He didn't need a last-to-first run in the stretch like he did in winning the Risen Star on Feb. 9. He simply moved through an opening and cruised to his third win in six career starts.
Pyro covered the 11/16 miles in 1:44.44 and returned $3.60, $2.80 and $2.20. Derby hopefuls Tale of Ekati and Majestic Warrior, making their first 3-year-old starts, never seriously challenged and finished sixth and seventh, respectively.
My Pal Charlie, who set the early pace, finished second at 60-1 odds and paid $26 and $10.80. Yankee Bravo returned $5.20.
Proud Spell ($5.80) upset previously unbeaten Indian Blessing in the $400,000 Fair Grounds Oaks, Circular Quay ($15) outdueled Grasshopper by a neck in the $500,000 New Orleans Handicap, and Proudinsky ($9.60) won the $500,000 Mervin H. Muniz Jr. Memorial Handicap.
Aqueduct: Visionaire edged Texas Wildcatter by a nose in the $250,000 Gotham Stakes, a prep leading to the New York track's $750,000 Wood Memorial on April 5. Visionaire ran 11/16 miles in 1:44.60 and paid $11, $5.60 and $3.80. In the $106,200 Toboggan Handicap, Sir Greeley, the 2-1 favorite, beat Man of Danger by three-quarters of a length. The 6-year-old gelding ran 6 furlongs in 1:10.22 and paid $6 to win.
Oaklawn Park: Jonesboro beat Gouldings Green by 2¾ lengths in the $150,000 Razorback Breeders' Cup Handicap in Hot Springs, Ark., running 11/16 miles in 1:44.21 and paying $3.60, $2.80 and $2.20.
Tampa Bay Downs: Balkrisna Sukharan's Awesome Attitude ($5.20) won Race 11 under Andrew Ramgeet, giving trainer Jamie Ness a meet-record 45 victories, one more than the late Don Rice in 2001-02. "I've been on kind of a roll," said Ness, 33. "It means the horses are running good, and the owners are happy. You have to keep up with the times. I've changed my method of training and stress fitness. I haven't forgotten when I first got into the business and lost 56 in a row my second year."
Times correspondent Don Jensen contributed
to this report.