03/03/2003 1:00AM

Badge of Silver sharpens up


NEW ORLEANS - Badge of Silver turned in another brilliant work last Sunday at Fair Grounds and remains on target for this Sunday's $750,000 Louisiana Derby.

Badge of Silver and Kafwain headline a field that was still taking shape early this week. Besides the two favorites, Commander's Affair, Defrere's Vixen, Funny Cide, and Lone Star Sky are expected to start. Peace Rules was reported to be coming here after trainer Bobby Frankel scratched him from last Saturday's San Rafael Stakes at Santa Anita, but now Peace Rules also is under consideration for the El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields.

Kafwain turned in his final Louisiana Derby work on Monday at Santa Anita, working six furlongs in 1:11.40. Badge of Silver finished his serious preparations for the race with a six-furlong breeze here Sunday.

Badge of Silver has won all three of his career starts, and won his stakes and two-turn debut in the Risen Star here Feb. 16 by 10 lengths. Working alone with jockey Robby Albarado up just after the renovation break on Sunday morning, Badge of Silver ran splits of 12.20 seconds, 25, 37.60, 49.40, and 1:00.80 on his way to a final six-furlong time of 1:12.60, an extremely fast work for this racetrack. Badge of Silver was timed galloping out seven furlongs in 1:27.

"It was perfect, absolutely just what I wanted," said Ronny Werner, who trains Badge of Silver for owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey. "I was very, very excited afterward."

Badge of Silver's work created a minor stir, as several horsemen turned out to watch and clock the breeze. The reviews, Werner said, all were positive. "He's so fun to watch," Werner said. "I had some horsemen come up to me that I don't usually talk to and say how great he looked. It makes you feel good when your peers have good things to say."

All this comes only a week after Werner was "90-percent sure" Badge of Silver wouldn't make the Louisiana Derby. Badge of Silver first appeared to have come out of the Risen Star in fine physical condition, but Werner said the colt was noticeably tired after a strong gallop here Feb. 22.

"At one point I was real skeptical about running him," said Werner. "But that's why you go one day at a time. From what I've seen the last four days, it's all been excellent."