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Mar 14, 2008

Pyro burns brightest in Louisiana Derby


New Orleans, LA (Sports Network) - Odds-on favorite Pyro put himself at the head of the three-year-old class Saturday with a convincing victory in the $600,000 Louisiana Derby at the Fair Grounds. The 1 1/16 mile race is a major event on the way to the Kentucky Derby.

Ridden by regular jockey Shaun Bridgmohan, Pyro settled into fourth in the nine-horse field. Never far off the leaders the colt began to draw closer to the pace-setter My Pal Charlie on the far turn.

Bridgmohan guided his mount to the outside leaving the final turn and split horses at the top of the stretch. Pyro went on to post a three-length win over My Pal Charlie, a 60-1 longshot.

Yankee Bravo rallied to finish third, followed by Blackberry Road, Stevil, Tale of Ekati, Majestic Warrior, J Be K and Unbridled Vicar.

The time for the 95th Louisiana Derby was 1:44.44 on a fast track.

Owned by Winchell Thoroughbreds, Pyro added $360,000 with the victory to bring his career earnings to more than $1.05 million with three wins in six starts.

Sent off at 4-5, Pyro was 9-10 last month when he easily won the Risen Star Stakes here. Last year he was second to War Pass in both the Breeders' Cup Juvenile and Champagne Stakes.

Pyro is trained by Steve Asmussen, who also conditions 2007 Horse of the Year Curlin. The three-year-old is expected to make his final start before the Kentucky Derby and the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland on Saturday, April 12.

Pyro returned $3.60, $2.80 and $2.20. My Pal Charlie paid $26.00 and $10.80, and Yankee Bravo paid $5.20 to show.

On the same racing program, 2007 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Filly winner Indian Blessing suffered her first career defeat in the Fair Grounds Oaks. Second choice Proud Spell handed the favorite her first loss after five consecutive wins. Proud Spell was second in last year's Juvenile Filly.

Circular Quay got his first win since last year's Louisiana Derby. The four- year-old captured the Louisiana Handicap over favorite Grasshopper.

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