12/30/2004 1:00AM

Asmussen pair faces just three


NEW ORLEANS - Trainer Steve Asmussen has entered a pair of stakes-winning fillies, Coronado Rose and More Moonlight, in Saturday's $50,000 Letellier Memorial Stakes on New Year's Day at Fair Grounds.

For 3-year-old fillies at six furlongs, the Letellier, formerly the Thelma Stakes, drew only three challengers to Asmussen's pair, including two fillies trained by Dallas Stewart: Hot Storm and Steal the Show.

The weight assignments have Asmussen concerned.

"They both give the field quite a bit of weight, which is disappointing for 3-year-old fillies," said Asmussen. "More Moonlight probably has the edge."

carries top weight of 122 pounds, including jockey Donnie Meche. She was an early foal, born Jan. 17, 2002, and may well have a developmental advantage over her rivals. More Moonlight won the $60,000 Holly Stakes at The Meadowlands on Oct. 23, then finished third to Megascape in the Grade 3, $100,000 Valley Stream on Nov. 21.

Multiple stakes winner has won more money, $99,770, than her stablemate, who has bankrolled $72,880, and will carry 119, including Lonnie Meche. Coronado Rose won her maiden at Keeneland on Oct. 24, then ran right back to win in the $50,000 Princess Handicap at Sunland Park. After winning the $40,000 Delta Belle by a neck she finished second in the $50,000 Gowell at Turfway Park on Dec. 26.

The best of the other runners may well be Hot Storm, who will carry 114 pounds. Hot Storm has the advantage of a race over the track, a powerful 7 1/2-length victory in a five-furlong optional claimer. Robby Albarado rode her in that race and will be back aboard Saturday.

Steal the Show is another course winner for Stewart. She won her maiden Dec. 16, digging in gamely through the stretch to prevail by a length. She will be ridden by Larry Melancon at 112 pounds.

Galactic Cat chased More Moonlight home in the Holly, finishing third, but was pulled up in her next race, the Valley Stream. It seems unlikely that she will be able to reverse that form against More Moonlight in this spot, although she will enjoy a 10-pound weight switch in her advantage from the Valley Stream. James Graham will ride her for trainer Rebecca Maker.