Photo credit: Hodges Photography / Lou Hodges Jr
File this episode of the incredible Grand Luwegee story under deja vu.
Opelousas thoroughbred owner, trainer and breeder Gerard Perron somewhat expected success last week as his six-year-old horse entered the starting gate for Champions Day feature race at the Louisiana Fair Grounds Race Track.
After all Grand Luwegee had drawn a favorable spot that broke him along the rail.
In the saddle was veteran rider Colby Hernandez, who rode Grand Luwegee to first place in the identical 2020 event which earned had earned Perron the $90,000 winner’s share.
And once again in perhaps scripted fashion, Grand Luwegee captured the top prize in the $150,000 Champion’s Day feature for Louisiana thoroughbreds, leading the other six horses in a wire-to-wire win to increase his career earnings to $491,000.
Expectations Perron admitted, were different than last year when Grand Luwegee was far from the pre-race favorite at the betting window.
“We had a good feeling going into (last week’s) race. We drew a spot on the inside where we have been successful with the horse and (Hernandez) knew how to ride him. We were going a mile and an eighth in the race and we think (Grand Luwegee) is a better horse now than ever,” Perron said.
Last year when Grand Luwegee, who also hugged the inside of the track, won the identical feature race at the Fair Grounds.
The victory margin was a closer three neck lengths after the battle for the lead began down the stretch and continued just before the finish line.
The 2020 victory created quite a sensation in the Louisiana horse industry mainly because Grand Luwegee was a 52-to-1 favorite, which meant bettors certainly weren’t expecting him to win.
Last week the route from gate to the line it was easier, something Perron attributes to steady exercising as the horse he said, has lost 40 pounds over the last couple of months.
“I was very encouraged about the outcome. Colby had come back after riding in Kentucky and that was a positive. We also had the inside, which we wanted in order to put us in the front early, something that happened. We drew up the strategy the same way as last year and it worked,” Perron said.
Grand Luwegee, who was born on Perron’s horse farm outside Opelousas, is now a three-time Louisiana grand champion after taking a 2019 champion’s race at Delta Downs, where Perron plans to race him in February.