12/07/2004 12:00AM

Albarado set for 3,000th win

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NEW ORLEANS - Jockey Robby Albarado, the defending riding champion at Fair Grounds, finished the second weekend of the meeting one victory short of the 3,000 career wins.

Albarado has an excellent chance of passing this milestone Thursday at Fair Grounds, where he is on live mounts in seven of the 10 races on the card. He will ride a pair of horses for trainer Neil Howard, including in the feature, a $30,000 allowance for 2-year-olds at a mile on the turf.

Straw Hat has closed in all three of his turf starts, including a third-place finish at Saratoga and a second-place finish to subsequent winner Exceptional Ride at Churchill Downs.

The field of 11 includes several serious threats to Straw Hat, particularly the British-bred Bridge Place, who raced in England earlier this year before making two starts at Louisiana Downs this fall. He missed winning by just a neck in his last start after setting all the pace. Silverado Trail, a Silver Charm colt making his first turf start, and Regardlessly and Krises Bells, both winners of turf maiden events, are the other main contenders.

Albarado is also named on Howard's Trooping the Color in the second race, a maiden special weight for 2-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles. Albarado was aboard the Dixie Union colt in his only start, a seven-furlong sprint at Churchill Downs on Nov. 6. Trooping the Color finished sixth in a field of 12 in that race, but has a pair of useful works over the Fair Grounds track, including a 49.40-second half-mile breeze Sunday, the second-fastest of 55 works at the distance.

Isle of Silver, Albarado's mount in the sixth race, a $28,000 six-furlong sprint for Louisiana-bred 2-year-olds, is the likely favorite off his Nov. 26 debut, when he appeared short in a six-furlong sprint as the 7-5 favorite.

Albarado also is named on Donnybrook Joy, Capazuri, Baker Road, and Motor Home.

Trainer Josie Carroll was singing Albarado's praises after he guided her colt Kalyptic to victory on the grass last weekend.

"I have to give Robby a lot of credit," said Carroll. "Kalyptic has been too eager on the track, and I asked Robby to take him back and make one run.

"He had him covered up between horses beautifully until the stretch, and when he asked him there was plenty left."