09/02/2008 11:00PM

Betting tri's tricky task in field of 10


BOSSIER CITY, La. - Trifecta players face quite a challenge when handicapping Friday's featured optional claiming race at Louisiana Downs.

Nine of the 10 runners entered come in off in-the-money performances and all have been competing in a narrow class range of late. Throw in several inches of midweek rainfall courtesy of Hurricane Gustav - and the possibility of the race being transferred from the turf to a drying-out main track - and the 1 1/16-mile headliner offers a number of potential trifecta combinations that is truly staggering.

Should the race remain on the grass, British Medium could be poised for a return to the winner's circle. A 4-year-old colt by Storm Cat out of the Mr. Prospector mare Macoumba, British Medium comes off his first start on dirt in his local debut here Aug. 8. Trained now by Albert Stall, British Medium raced exclusively on grass in his four races in Southern California under trainer Richard Mandella's care. Donnie Meche will ride him on Friday.

Hookum Fish finished second in a similar spot in his last start, but was disqualified and placed fourth for interference through the stretch. Trained by Howard Scarberry, the 6-year-old Hookum Fish got a late start to his career, making his debut at Turfway Park in the spring. But he has compiled a 1-1-1 record from 9 starts while steadily climbing the class ladder. Leading Don Simington will ride.

Chameleon, bothered in the late going by Hookum Fish when they met here on the turf Aug. 14, also has been steady this season and has finished no worse than fourth on the grass since being claimed by Dallas Keen at Fair Grounds last December. Chameleon won earlier this summer on the Lone Star Park turf course. Jockey Lonnie Meche will replace Francisco Torres in the irons.

Torres remains aboard Major Jeff, who will put a two-race winning streak on the line Friday. A Pure Prize gelding, he comes off a successful grass debut, winning a mid-level conditioned claiming race with a furious late rally. The Mike Burgess-trained Major Jeff also won on the Louisiana Down main track in late July and has been perfect since Burgess claimed him out of a $5,000 nonwinners-of-two claiming race on July 5.

Forever Siebe also has undergone a change in barns and will be sent out for the first time on Friday by Morris Nicks.

A Texas-bred son of Siebe, Forever Siebe has finished no worse than third in his four-race career, including a win at first asking over the Lone Star main track. Most recently, Forever Siebe just missed in a $30,000 nonwinners-of-two claiming event over the Lone Star turf, earning a respectable 81 Beyer Speed Figure. Patrick Valenzuela will ride.