Shaun Bridgmohan No. 2 at Fair Grounds
NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (CMC):
Top-flight Jamaican jockey Shaun Bridgmohan won the fifth race but rival James Graham narrowly defeated him in the Mardi Gras Stakes to keep a marginal lead in the Fair Grounds jockeys' championship standings.
Bridgmohan's win astride Gittin Cozy in the fifth race had pulled him level on 50 wins with Graham but the Ireland-born rider edged ahead to 51 when he captured the US$58,000 Mardi Gras event half an hour later.
The battle for the 2009/2010 Fair Grounds jockeys' title has intensified in recent weeks with Bridgmohan - spurred on by the high-powered Steve Asmussen stables - enjoying solid form.
The 30-year-old Spanish Town native had missed the first four weeks of the Fair Grounds meet while completing his Churchill Downs assignments in Kentucky last November, but by the end of December had moved up to 11th place on 14 wins.
Bridgmohan has nine wins in the last four racedays, which took him past Jamie Theriot for the No. 2 spot.
With just over five weeks remaining in the season, Theriot (45) and other contenders Shane Sellers (38), Corey Lanerie (36) and Robby Albarado (35) are also within striking distance in the lively title race.
Bridgmohan used the 2-1 favourite Gittin Cozy to win the US$12,000 fifth race for Asmussen.
He held the five-year-old mare off the early pace and made a winning challenge entering the homestretch, eventually scoring by 1
Gittin Cozy clocked one minute, 13.76 seconds for the six-furlong trip.
In the Mardi Gras Stakes, Graham vigorously drove the 11-2 bet Chantilly Nayla to victory in a tense finish - with horses bumping into each other - to beat Bridgmohan's mount Kinsolving (5-1), the 23-1 outsider Hathors Legacy and Bronx City Girl (8-1).
In a riveting four-horse battle to the finish, Graham brought Chantilly Nayla home by half-length over Kinsolving, with Hathors Legacy and Bronx City Girl just behind in third and fourth, respectively.
Chantilly Nayla won the 5
/2-furlong sprint in one minute, 04.75 seconds but had to survive a stewards' inquiry after claims of interference.