Too Dim finishes fast to win Louisiana Champions Day Sprint _lowres

Photo by LOU HODGES JR./Hodges Photography -- Too Dim with jockey Miguel Mena aboard wins the 24th running of the Louisiana Champions Day Sprint at the Fair Grounds on Saturday, Dec. 13.

Too Dim started slow.

But boy, did he finish fast.

The 5-year-old colt, left in the gate by the mature field Saturday afternoon at the Fair Grounds, recovered from a spotty start to settle into a charge which ended with a winning showdown against favorite Heitai at the Louisiana Champions Day Sprint.

Too Dim’s worst-to-first journey through six furlongs included a neck-to-neck finish against Heitai, which remained well clear of competition until being caught in the final sixteenth.

Too Dim paid $11.20.

Simply put, Toom Dim, owned by William J. Deckwa Jr., had more gas in his gut, even surprising his jockey.

“When I left (the gate slow), I was like, ‘I hope it works,’ ” jockey Miguel Mena said. “By the time I got the final stretch, I was like, ‘I’m going to get it done.’ ”

The effort dampened Heitai’s recently-discovered love of sprints, which included winning this event in 2013. After a disappointing racing start, Heitai entered with seven wins and two second-place finishes.

Heitai, which appeared to tire in the final sixteenth, was forced to settle for another second place.

All Owls finished third, like Too Dim, moving from the back of the pack in eighth before slowly gaining ground, moving up on the inside.

Strong finish for String King

String King met expectations leading up to the Louisiana Champions Day Turf, although he needed to close strong to move past long shot Tiger Run.

One year after finishing a close second to Sunbean in the Classis, the 6-year-old of Charles C. Smith took the lead before the furlong marker and edged out the field.

Stormdriver finished third, followed by McGehee’s Mercy and Benwill, who was expected to challenge String King.

String King paid $3.

“He had great energy, and did what I asked him to do,” said James Graham, who rode String King to his third win of 2014.

A fleet Shoe

Keep an eye on Mr. L.S. Shoe.

The 2-year-old bested a field of 14 to win the Louisiana Champions Day Juvenile to stay undefeated.

Mr. L.S. Shoe outrun his nearest competitors, Jazzy Rebel, Grande Basin and Charlie’s Affair, while his expected competitor, Salute the C, was unable to approach a former effort against Mr. L.S. Shoe at the Louisiana Stallion Stakes at Louisiana Downs (Sept. 6).

James Graham substituted for injured jockey Richard Eramia.

Play that music

The bugle man is back at the Fair Grounds.

Les Colonello spent 11 years in the role at the race track before the position was eliminated in recent years. He returned this season, much to the delight of spectators.

Colonello, a New Orleans native, said people missed a live bugler.

“It was a long tradition here,” he said. “Al Hirt did this job, way back when; when he was a kid, about 18 years old. So I’m glad to be back. I enjoyed it because I get a lot of feedback, and folks are nice to me.”