03/22/2005 12:00AM

Asmussen sends complementary duo

Gold Storm will be shipped to Kentucky for the Keeneland spring meet.

NEW ORLEANS - The last week of the Fair Grounds meet opens Thursday with a $62,500 optional claiming/three-other-than allowance at a mile on the main track for fillies and mares.

The field of six includes a pair of Steve Asmussen-trained horses who are uncoupled in the wagering and likely to attract a lot of attention from bettors.

Asmussen is bringing probable favorite Mamboalot back from an 11-month layoff. A 5-year-old Kingmambo mare, Mamboalot raced in France at 2 and 3 with mixed results. She won at first asking as a 2-year-old, then was 1 for 4 as a 3-year-old before being shipped to America. Mamboalot made her first U.S. start at Fair Grounds on February 2004, in a one-mile race that was washed off the grass. She took to the dirt eagerly and led all the way to win, but was later placed sixth for an Acepromazine positive.

After winning on dirt again in her next start, Mamboalot raced on the Keeneland turf and led most of the way before tiring to last. She has been unraced since that April race.

Asmussen built her stamina with a series of longer breezes, then worked Mamboalot two half-miles, the last coming in 48.60 seconds.

Mamboalot is likely to take her rivals as far as she can on the front end, and should have company up front in Keep This Cat and Ballroom Deputy. That could set it up for Asmussen's other entry, Dancing Liebling.

A 4-year-old filly, Dancing Liebling has also spent most of her career on grass, but she has won on the dirt and finished third in the $40,000 Summer Prom on the Hawthorne main track last year. She is a spirited closer who will be dangerous off a fast pace, even with the short finish line of the Fair Grounds mile races.

Keeping the Gold, a multiple stakes winner, has faced much tougher fields than this and is the most prolific winner of the group, with a record of 5-2-0 in 12 starts.

Also in the field is Twilight Gallop, who will go for her first win in six starts this meet.

Gold Storm heads to Kentucky

Gold Storm closed out his spectacular Fair Grounds meet with the fastest six-furlong clocking of the winter, winning the Kenner Memorial in 1:08.99 under E.J. Perrodin. Trainer Bubba Cascio said he will ship Gold Storm, along with the rest of his stable, to Kentucky for the upcoming Keeneland meet, which begins April 8.

"We have a lot of options with him," he said. "We might run him at Churchill."

Cascio said he has been trying to teach Gold Storm to rate.

"We don't want to be the rabbit for anybody," he said. "We've been trying to get him to back off those fast fractions. E.J., the veteran jockey, had been working him in the mornings, and I think that really helped [in the Kenner]."

Turf experiment fails

Crimson Stag had been perfect against Louisiana-breds until last Saturday, when he finished eighth after setting most of the pace in the one-mile Gentilly Handicap over the Fair Grounds turf course. Trainer Dallas Stewart dismissed the performance as an aberration.

"He just didn't like the grass," he said. "We had to take a shot to find out, and now we know. He came back out of the race fine. He was bucking and kicking the next morning. We'll take him with us to Kentucky and decide what to do in a week or two. We will probably run him up there."

The Gentilly did produce a potential grass star in Prince T., a Royal Anthem colt who looked good winning the race.

"We were just waiting to get him on turf," said trainer Andy Leggio. "He has half-brothers and sisters that love the turf. When you look at him, he has those big chunky feet that are perfect for the turf."