08/23/2006 12:00AM

All six in pursuit of first stakes


BOSSIER CITY, La. - An evenly matched field of six 2-year-olds will line up Friday afternoon at Louisiana Downs in the $50,000 Minstrel Stakes at six furlongs.

L'Grande d'Oro, last seen winning against maiden special weight company at Churchill Downs in late May, may be a slight favorite in a field that does not include a stakes winner. Before his maiden win, L'Grande d'Oro finished second and third in maiden races at Keeneland in April.

A Grand Slam colt trained by Bobby Barnett, L'Grande d'Oro has been kept busy in the mornings with a steady string of works, including a five-furlong drill in 1:00.80 last Sunday. He will be ridden by Luis Quinonez.

Go Poppa Fooze, a recent maiden winner for perennial training champ Cole Norman, makes his stakes debut. A son of Exciting Story, Go Poppa Fooze led start to finish to win his maiden here July 30 by four lengths. Carlos Gonzalez will ride.

Fortunate Envoy is the only two-time winner in the field. In his last start, he scored a front-running three-length win in a first-level allowance here Aug. 3. That win came on the heels of a game neck win against $50,000 maiden claiming company, a race in which he was claimed by trainer Terry Brennan for Greg Rand. Lonnie Meche, who is putting some real pressure on leading rider Gonzalez, will ride.

Sir Winston, who like L'Grande d'Oro won his maiden at Churchill Downs earlier in the year, comes into the Minstrel off an 11th-place finish in a restricted stakes at Calder on Aug. 5. Trained by Scott Blasi, Sir Winston will be ridden by Donnie Meche.

Straightup Twelve and Timar, second and third behind Fortunate Envoy in the Aug. 3 first-level allowance, complete the field for the Minstrel, which will go as the sixth race of the afternoon.