Blue River Derby

Blue River Derby

Louisiana Lover gets his first stakes win in stakes-record time.

Louisiana Lover 2020 Blue River Derby. Coady Photography

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Fastest qualifier Louisiana Lover made a late surge toward the wire to win Thursday's $125,100 Blue River Derby (R) for state-bred 3-year-olds at Indiana Grand.

Ridden by Sammy Mendez and aided by a reported 5-mph tail wind, Louisiana Lover covered 400 yards in a stakes-record :19.552. Randy Smith prepped the brown son of The Louisiana Cartel for owner Duke Racing LLC of Whiteland, Indiana.

“We thought he’d be good at 400 yards,” said owner Chris Duke. “The first 200 yards, he always weaves, but the second 200, he is really reaching. He has such a big stride, he can really make up ground.”

Duke and his wife, Stephanie, are fully involved in the Quarter Horse business. In addition to their racing operation, they compete on the barrel racing circuit. Duke Racing includes partners from his family, as well as Jack Laugle, who is a neighbor in Whiteland.

Louisiana Lover was bred by Amy Peoples Youngblood. The gelding was coming off of a head victory in the last of three Blue River Derby trials on July 9.

Louisiana Lover is out of Jess Special Love, a daughter of champion Mr Jess Perry. Duke purchased Louisiana Lover directly from the gelding's breeder.

“I actually saw a post by Dr. Youngblood on Facebook,” he said. “He was a great looking colt, and when we went to see him he was pretty much perfect, so we purchased him as a weanling. We also liked the Mr Jess Perry line on his dam’s side.”

Smith, Indiana Grand’s all-time leading Quarter Horse trainer, said that Louisiana Lover is an "easy keeper," but they have an issue with him related to his size.

“I have a hard time keeping a saddle on him,” said Smith. “We tried a breast collar, but that didn’t work. We had to adjust the saddle in the paddock before the race.”

Duke said that Louisiana Lover will be pointed to the August 27 QHRAI Stallion Service Auction Derby. Raced exclusively at Indiana Grand, the gelding has won six of nine starts, and the $68,805 winner's share of the purse from his first stakes victory increased his bankroll to $144,088.

HH CJ Shake finished second, a half of a length behind Louisiana Lover, and was followed by Rock Hard Candy, Blue Eyed Newman, Jess Z Bob, Beach Benny, Thunder Beach, Kissmelikethat, and Shakeitonthebeach.

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