08/25/2004 11:00PM

Blinkers off will help Britt's Jules relax


Britt's Jules is expected to get a lesson in rating Saturday in the $60,000 Prelude Stakes at Louisiana Downs. He will have blinkers removed for the 1 1/16-mile race, and with a win would secure not just the first-place check of $36,000, but also a starting berth into the Grade 2, $500,000 Super Derby on Sept. 25.

The Super Derby has been a goal for Britt's Jules since he ran a bang-up second to Pollard's Vision in the Grade 3 Leonard Richards at Delaware Park on July 18. Britt's Jules followed up that race with a third-place finish to Sir Shackleton in the Grade 3, $600,000 West Virginia Derby.

With the move into an ungraded stakes, Britt's Jules should go favored in the 10-horse Prelude.

ran the opening six furlongs of the 1 1/8-mile West Virginia Derby in 1:10.60, and continued to maintain his advantage through a mile in 1:35.80. Since that Aug. 7 race, he has been training without blinkers, said trainer Eric Guillot.

"He worked out of the gates without blinkers with three other horses, and just relaxed right off their hip," said Guillot. "His confidence level has increased tremendously."

Guillot had planned to pass the Prelude for the Grade 3 Pennsylvania Derby next month because Britt's Jules has been training so well, but after satisfactory flight arrangements could not be made, he opted for the Prelude.

He will break from post 9 under Guy Smith.

"It worked out pretty good with this draw," said Guillot. "With the blinkers off, hopefully he can scoot behind the speed. We're looking to kind of take back behind horses early. If I'm in front of South Africa, then something went wrong."

South Africa figures to set the pace as he stretches out around two turns for the first time following a front-running win in the $50,000 Airline.

Mr. Jester was turned out after a pair of off-the-board finishes this spring at Oaklawn. He was sixth in the $200,000 Rebel, and ninth in the Grade 2, $1 million Arkansas Derby, both of which were won by Smarty Jones.

Prior to those races, Mr. Jester was a win machine. He captured his debut and the $50,000 Pioneer at Louisiana Downs last summer, then was placed first in the Grade 3 Kentucky Cup Juvenile following the disqualification of nose winner Pomeroy.