03/19/2003 12:00AM

At 8 years old, Redattore has never been better


NEW ORLEANS - At age 8, Redattore isn't just hanging onto his racing career, he's thriving in it.

Redattore won more than $300,000 last year, but he has been even better this year: In his two starts, Redattore won an allowance race by five lengths and scored a one-length victory over the top-class Good Journey in the Grade 2 Frank Kilroe Handicap.

"He seems even better now than before," said trainer Richard Mandella. "I don't known what it is, really, but he's been in fabulous shape this year."

Redattore is one of four California-based horses who was to have flown to New Orleans on Wednesday to start Sunday in the Grade 2, $650,000 Explosive Bid Handicap. Strong recent form will make Redattore either the favorite in the race or a close second choice to the Florida-based Rouvres, a French Group 1 winner.

Redattore was bred in Brazil - where he won 6 of 9 races - before being exported to the U.S. in 2000. The North American phase of his career began badly.

"When he came here, he had a fracture in his knee," Mandella said. "He went straight to Dr. Larry Bramlage, who did surgery and fixed him up. We took care of that and he's pretty much been in the barn ever since. He's a very healthy, very sound horse. It's a pleasure to have horses around this long."

Redattore handles both turf and dirt, so long as he is kept at the proper distance - between a mile and nine furlongs. Redattore has raced outside California only once, finishing third in the 2001 Arlington Million, though he shipped to Emerald Downs last summer for the Longacres Mile but became sick and had to miss the race.

"I think he'll handle shipping fine," said Mandella, who gave Redattore a half-mile breeze this week. "I'm not too worried about that."

Redattore, who is expected to face 12 opponents in the nine-furlong Explosive Bid, is the 122-pound highweight and spots his rivals from six to 11 pounds. Joining Redattore on the California flight were Century City, Requete, and Seinne. Rouvres heads a Florida contingent also expected to include Della Francesca, Mr. Pleasentfar, and Orchard Park. The local hopes are Mystery Giver, Candid Glen, Even the Score, Freefourinternet, and Run to Victory.

Decision pending for Lone Star Sky

Lone Star Sky had a solid half-mile work here on Wednesday, but his connections haven't decided where the colt will make his next start.

This was Lone Star Sky's first work since he finished fourth in the Louisiana Derby, and not much was asked of him as he breezed four furlongs in 48.20 seconds, seventh fastest of 41 works at the distance.

"It was just an easy half-mile," said trainer Tom Amoss. "The track was very fast today. He went really well and did what he was supposed to. We feel confident he'll be ready to run in April."

Lone Star Sky is under consideration for three races: the Arkansas Derby, the Illinois Derby, and the Blue Grass Stakes. "We're going to do what we said all along, and that's to get him a prep that will allow him to make some money and show us if he's good enough to go on to the Kentucky Derby," Amoss said.

Meche, Albarado take their days

Jockeys Donnie Meche and Robby Albarado dropped appeals of suspensions handed to them by Fair Grounds stewards and began serving days this week.

Meche's 30-day suspension, the more serious of the two, resulted from a drug test that came back positive for an amphetamine.

Albarado was given a seven-day suspension for what stewards judged to be a careless ride aboard Noon Affair in the eighth race here Feb. 16. Albarado will be able to ride Mystery Giver in Sunday's Explosive Bid Handicap.

In a written request, Meche's lawyer, Sonny Garcia, asked the Louisiana Racing Commission to give Meche credit for 11 days he served in February after stewards at Delta Downs suspended him for allegedly not doing his best to win a race. Garcia's request is under consideration, a commission official said.

The Delta case, for Meche's ride aboard Cleaning House in a trial for the Graduation Futurity, has not yet been heard by the commission.

Private Emblem about ready

Private Emblem had a strong six-furlong workout here Wednesday and is on target for a start next month in the Texas Mile at Lone Star.

Private Emblem hasn't raced since last year, but is about ready to run after Wednesday's work, trainer Steve Asmussen said.

"He's a beautiful mover, and that was a great three-quarters today," said Asmussen. "He galloped out super."

Asmussen said he might try to find an allowance prep for Private Emblem before sending him to the Lone Star race.