12/05/2001 1:00AM

Another speedy Hebert 2-year-old


NEW ORLEANS - Louisiana Champions Day is here again Saturday, which means Doris Hebert, tucked away at his Evangeline Downs training base in Lafayette, La., is preparing some unusually fast 2-year-old colt for the $100,000 Juvenile, which Hebert has won three times in its 10-year history.

This year's model is Hail to Bag, a son of Bag owned by Hebert and Brittlyn Stable. Hail to Bag is unbeaten in four starts, the winner of two stakes, and sharp as a tack for the big race. Hebert compares the colt favorably with his former Champions Day Juvenile stars, J.W.'s Best Bet (1995 Juvenile winner), Bet Me Best (1998), and Early Goer (1999).

Both Bet Me Best, who was sold and went on to win the Hutcheson Stakes after his Champions Day win, and Early Goer, who has been through several trainers since he left Hebert's barn, also run Saturday in the Champions Day Sprint.

Hail to Bag has been thriving since he beat open company by more than seven lengths in his Lone Star Park debut in May. But Hebert has not. In August, a Saturday-night stomachache had turned ugly by Tuesday, when Hebert was rushed to the emergency room. There were serious problems with his pancreas and gall bladder, and Hebert did not leave the hospital for more than a month.

"Yes, it was hard," Hebert said. "I'm pretty active, I guess, and it was hard to be tied up like that. But they said I was lucky to make it through at all."

Hebert said most of his horses, including Hail to Bag, got a break from heavy training while he was recuperating from his illness, but the trainer has been tightening the screws on Hail to Bag in the last month. The colt worked a bullet five furlongs from the gate here Nov. 21 and had another good half-mile work Monday.

"He's about like where Early Goer was at this stage," Hebert said. "He's about the same kind of horse."

That would spell trouble for the other Juvenile runners, since Early Goer was a standout winner of the race two years ago. Still, the Juvenile will be no walkover for Hail to Bag, as two other horses, Rapide and Walk in the Snow should challenge him. Walk in the Snow, who beat Louisiana-breds by five lengths in the Pelican State Stakes at Louisiana Downs, was beaten a neck here Nov. 24 facing open company in the Old Hickory Stakes. Rapide has finished second to Hail to Bag on three different occasions, but missed by only a neck in the Shine Young Futurity this summer.

The Juvenile, which figures to draw a full field of 14 starters, is not the only race on the Champions Day card that is coming up strong. Here's a rundown on the other six Thoroughbred races.


Like the top group in the Juvenile, there's a top trio in the Lassie, too, Taylor's Queen, C J's Star, and Kwik Kash. Throw two-time winner Doc Knows Best into the mix and the Lassie, which also will go with a full gate, is fairly interesting.

C J's Star and Taylor's Queen have taken turns beating each other this year, while the speedy Kwik Kash, a Fair Grounds maiden winner in her lone start, is all upside.


The rejuvenated Zarb's Magic is the top threat in the $100,000 Starter with two caveats: One, that he can get two turns, and two, that he actually runs in the race. That remains in doubt, since Zarb's Magic is also under consideration for the Classic. In any case, a fairly full field is expected for the Starter.


This is race of the day. The $100,000 Sprint is expected to attract a field of about 10, topped by the amazing Hallowed Dreams, who, if she indeed runs, will be gunning for her 26th win in 28 starts. Hallowed Dreams easily won the Leggio Handicap in stakes-record time on Saturday, but is expected to run back on short rest. Her brilliant speed will be put to the test by the Cole Norman-trained Kettle Man, winner of four straight races by a combined 20 lengths, and Bet Me Best, the Champions Day Juvenile winner of 1998.


L'homme makes his comeback from a nine-month layoff and despite the break is the horse to beat in the $100,000 turf. Trainer Richie Scherer had wavered about bringing back L'homme in the Turf, but a series of strong local workouts convinced Scherer that the Turf was within range of the vastly talented L'homme, a 3-year-old who has won all three of his grass races. Also set to contest the turf are statebred stars Sarah Lane's Oates and Coach Rags.


The vastly improved Midge Too and Prized Amberpro head a prospective field of eight or nine in the $100,000 Ladies. Midge Too has primarily been a sprinter through her long career, but in her last start won a two turn allowance by six lengths.


The $150,000 Classic will probably attract a larger field than is typical, with 10 or more entrants expected to start. White Star, who has not run well at Fair Grounds, may be favored over the likes of Oak Hall, Doctor Mike and Cyrus.

Two horses to watch

There were two horses of special note in Wednesday's three training races here, and since both of them won they are unlikely to offer value in their career debuts. That's particularly true of Mouthadasouth, who won off by five lengths, clocking a solid 1:01.40 for five furlongs on a dull track while never asked for much run.

Trainer Billy Badgett said he didn't know exactly what to expect from Mouthadasouth, since the colt has been somewhat inconsistent in his training. What he got was early speed, a relaxed run, and a good finish. Mouthadasouth, a Dixieland Band colt owned by Peter Callahan, was a $150,000 yearling purchase and was days away from going through a 2-year-old in training sale when he bucked shins, Badgett said. His second dam, Mouthfull, is the dam of turf standout Chenin Blanc, and the colt is bred top and bottom for grass. Badgett said he is basically ready to run.

Lady Terri, winner of the first in 1:02, also is bred for turf, being by Pine Bluff and out of Siyah Nara, a multiple winner on grass. Trainer Mike Mareina predicted the filly would show speed, and indeed she broke sharply from the rail post, led throughout, and was only asked to run in the final half-furlong.