02/14/2007 1:00AM

Amoss calls on Delicate Dynamite


As a high-volume trainer heavily immersed in the claiming game, Tom Amoss has plenty of tough decisions heaped on his plate. Deciding which one of two fillies he had nominated to Saturday's Chou Croute Breeders' Cup Handicap would run in the race, however, was not one of them.

"It was pretty simple," Amoss said Wednesday. "One was ready to run, and the other wasn't."

The ready one is the vastly improved Delicate Dynamite, who was one of just six entered on Monday in the $75,000 Chou Croute. And the one not ready, Baghdaria, took another step toward getting ready for her first start since the Breeders' Cup Distaff when she breezed seven furlongs on Wednesday at Fair Grounds.

"We weren't comfortable running Baghdaria with where she's at," Amoss said. "That said, she went seven-eighths [in 1:29.40] this morning, working on her own. She galloped out another eighth of a mile past the wire, and she did it well. We're looking, but we have nothing picked out for her."

Delicate Dynamite, 4, has been a grass horse for much of her career, but Amoss kept her in an off-the-turf third-level allowance race Dec. 22, and Delicate Dynamite won easily, validating that win a month later with a two-length victory in the Truly Bound Handicap. Amoss said Delicate Dynamite's sudden affinity for the main track had surprised him.

"She's a horse who's just getting more mature," he said. "She's settled down a lot in the paddock."

Sharp pair on collision course

"Showdown" might not quite be the word for a matchup of lightly raced Louisiana-bred sprinters, but then Brother Bean and Tensas Phone Call are not your garden-variety Louisiana-bred racehorses. Brother Bean has won 4 of his 6 starts, most recently trouncing more experienced foes in the Louisiana Premier Night Sprint at Delta Downs. Monday, Tensas Phone Call answered back, making short work of a field of Louisiana-bred allowance horses at Fair Grounds with a 6 1/4-length win. Tensas Phone Call, who has won 4 of 5 career starts by a combined 30 lengths, clocked a very fast 1:09.40 for six furlongs.

Trainer Troy Young said he was pointing Tensas Phone Call for the $100,000 Louisiana Lagniappe Sprint on March 25, a race that presumably will include Brother Bean.

"I don't want to sound like some crazy Cajun bragging, but I think Brother Bean will have to beat me," said Young, who trains Tensas Phone Call for his father, Lee Young.

Tensas Phone Call suffered his lone defeat going seven furlongs around two turns in a Delta stakes won by the much more experienced Cort's P.B.

Young said his father told jockey Curt Bourque to experiment with rating Tensas Phone Call, and attributed the defeat to the change in tactics plus a longer distance.

"Seven furlongs is a little farther than he wants to go," Young said.

Ermine stays in California

Ermine showed she belongs in California Grade 1 company with a second-place finish Saturday in the Santa Maria Handicap at Santa Anita, so in California Ermine will stay, rather than shipping back to trainer Ronny Werner's Fair Grounds base.

"She's still out there," Werner said Wednesday. "We're going to run her in the [March 10] Santa Margarita, then bring her back for the Apple Blossom at Oaklawn. That's obviously the best she's done being [shipped] somewhere."

Ermine, beaten 1 3/4 lengths Saturday, was making her first start since winning the Falls City Handicap last November.

"That race should move her up," Werner said.

* Young Joe Talamo may be sneaking peaks in the rear-view mirror. Talamo, a 17-year-old apprentice, ran off to a big early lead in the Fair Grounds jockey standings, and maintained a sizable edge even during a recent one-week suspension. But Robby Albarado has crept to within 17 wins of Talamo, trailing 77-60 entering this racing week.