06/28/2004 11:00PM

Beau's Town looking like old self


Any time a horse comes back from an injury, there can be mental and physical questions surrounding his competitive abilities. But so far, so good for Beau's Town.

He came out of his runner-up finish in the Grade 3 Aristides Breeders' Cup on June 19 at Churchill Downs in good order, and is headed next to Del Mar to run in the Grade 1, $250,000 Bing Crosby Breeders' Cup on July 25, said his owner, Dave Hulkewicz.

Beau's Town, who is based at Louisiana Downs with leading trainer Cole Norman, won the Bing Crosby last year and was considered a top candidate for the Breeders' Cup Sprint. In his final prep race for the Sprint, however, he sustained a small bone chip in an ankle, had it removed through surgery, and did not return to the races until April.

He registered his first win a month later when he added blinkers for the $75,000 Ford Express Stakes, which was run at Lone Star Park, host site of this year's Breeders' Cup. Beau's Town set a track record for six furlongs in that race, when he ran the distance in 1:07.89.

From there, he started as the favorite in the Aristides. He was part of a three-way speed duel in the race, took the lead, then was overtaken in the late stages by Champali.

"He came out of his race super," said Hulkewicz. "I think everything's gone good. I'm excited about his chances later in the year. Physically, he's doing good. The surgery is not causing any problems for him. We'll just keep on taking it one race at a time."

Hulkewicz would like to fly Beau's Town to Del Mar a week before the Bing Crosby. With a good performance in the race, which was a Grade 2 last year, the gelding would be pointed for one other race before a possible start in the Breeders' Cup Sprint.

"This is a very large test for him coming up," said Hulkewicz. "I'm pretty excited about it. It's going to tell us a lot about where we're going to be later in the year."

Closers to chase Italian Riviera

Savory and Volobee, who will meet in the featured 10th race on Thursday, have a lot in common. Both won their maiden races in their last starts, and both used strong closing kicks to do so. Savory graduated on June 5, while Volobee won on May 20.

Thursday, both figure to be chasing probable the favorite and front-runner, Italian Riviera, in the entry-level allowance at 1 1/16 miles on turf. In her last start, Italian Riviera set most of the pace in an off-the-turf allowance before finishing second to the well-regarded Merry Me in Spring.

Italian Riviera must overcome the widest post in the 12-horse field, but she looks strong, with her consistent nature and competitive Beyer Speed Figures. Corey Lanerie has the mount for trainer Larry Robideaux Jr.

Savory earned the field's co-highest last-race Beyer Figure when she drove to a three-length win over good turf in a maiden race at Louisiana Downs. She was flattered when Catlaan, the third-place finisher, came back to win. E.J. Perrodin has the mount on Savory for trainer Al Stall Jr.

Andrew Leggio Jr. trains Volobee, who closed from near-last for a two-length win in a maiden special weight at Louisiana Downs. The race was her first start since March, when she was fourth in a $50,000 maiden claimer at Fair Grounds.

Other top contenders in the competitive feature include three-time winner Boomboomgirl, who is trained by Ralph Irwin.

* Louisiana Downs will race for five consecutive days this week, with a special card set for Monday. The weekend stakes on tap are the $50,000 Rebel Stakes for 2-year-old fillies on Saturday and the $75,000 Independence Handicap on turf on Sunday.

* Louisiana Downs, which is owned by Harrah's Entertainment, has rejoined the National Thoroughbred Racing Association.