03/05/2003 12:00AM

Change of plans for Peace Rules

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NEW ORLEANS - Bobby Frankel apparently likes Bourbon Street more than cable cars. After saying on Tuesday that he would "probably go up north" with Peace Rules for Saturday's El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields, Frankel on Wednesday reversed course and decided to send Peace Rules to Sunday's $750,000 Louisiana Derby, making an outstanding race that much better.

Kafwain and Badge of Silver, the nation's top two prospects for the Kentucky Derby, already were scheduled for the race. Peace Rules, a stakes winner on turf now switching back to the main track, adds considerable depth to the field.

Frankel said he changed his mind after a getting a persuasive phone call on Tuesday afternoon from Mervin Muniz, the director of racing and racing secretary at Fair Grounds.

Frankel said that the difference in purse money - the El Camino Real Derby is worth $200,000 - was another factor.

"I decided to take a shot," Frankel said Wednesday from his barn at Hollywood Park, where Peace Rules is based.

"Mervin's a friend of mine, and he asked me to come down," said Frankel. It's almost as easy to fly down there as it is to van up to Golden Gate. Plus, the race is worth $750,000. You know how I am - I get whims, and go with it."

Frankel said Edgar Prado would have the mount. Frankel and Prado teamed to win last Saturday's Santa Anita Handicap with Milwaukee Brew.

Victor Espinoza, who had been riding Peace Rules, is the regular rider for Kafwain.

Both Kafwain and Peace Rules were scheduled to fly to New Orleans on Thursday.

Funny Cide, who is shipping in from Florida for the race, was supposed to arrive Wednesday afternoon, but his flight was delayed until later Wednesday.

The addition of Peace Rules brings the probable Louisiana Derby field to between seven and nine. Badge of Silver, Commander's Affair, Defrere's Vixen, Funny Cide, Kafwain, Lone Star Sky, and Peace Rules are definite. Prince Alphie and Winning Fans are probable starters for the race.

Josie Carroll, who trains Prince Alphie, said she was leaning toward running.

Prince Alphie was fourth last time out in the Risen Star Stakes, in which Badge of Silver, Lone Star Sky, and Defrere's Vixen ran one-two-three.

"He ran a good closing race last time and he breezed well since the race," Carroll said. "And I know that he likes the track."

Badge of Silver schooled in the paddock Wednesday morning while the training races were being run. His trainer, Ronny Werner, said it was the only time Badge of Silver would have a paddock schooling session before the race.

Belle of Perintown one of big three

Belle of Perintown's racing year began with her nearly upside down in the Fair Grounds starting gate, but three weeks later she shook up the local 3-year-old filly division.

Belle of Perintown went from a 30-length loss in the Tiffany Lass Stakes on Jan. 26 to an eight-length win in the Silverbulletday Stakes last month, and that dominant performance makes Belle of Perintown one of the big three Saturday in the $350,000 Fair Grounds Oaks.

Belle of Perintown is expected to face five rivals in the Grade 2 Oaks, contested at 1 1/16 miles on dirt. She, Lady Tak, and Atlantic Ocean are the favorites, while Lovely Sage, Afternoon Dreams, and Rebridled Dreams are longshots. Coast to Coast racing owns both "Dreams" fillies, who will run as one betting interest.

Lady Tak enters the Oaks unbeaten in four starts, while Atlantic Ocean has three straight stakes victories, but neither has been more visually impressive than Belle of Perintown was winning the Silverbulletday in a gallop.

"She ran a pretty good time," said Belle of Perintown's trainer, Eddie Kenneally, of the final time of 1:44.48 for the Silverbulletday's 1 1/16 miles. "And, I guess she could have gone faster if the rider pushed her."

Jockey Calvin Borel didn't need to push Belle of Perintown, since her victory was assured when she opened a big lead at the top of the stretch.

Neither did Borel ride Belle of Perintown hard in the Tiffany Lass after she flipped in the starting gate. Borel later told Kenneally that Belle of Perintown felt uncoordinated, and Kenneally credited Borel with averting potentially serious injury to the filly.

"When something like that happens, you know you're eliminated before the race begins," Kenneally said. "Ideally, I'd have preferred she'd been scratched that day. Thankfully, Calvin took care of her, since mentally she was rattled. We were really lucky."

Ken Mahler and Jamie Schloss bought Belle of Perintown, a Dehere filly, for $85,000 at a 2-year-old in training sale last February.

"She didn't have one of the fastest works," said Kenneally, who won his second graded stakes in the Silverbulletday.

"She probably wasn't ready to breeze like that so early in her 2-year-old season. She came out of the sale really well, and when we started working her she didn't take long to come around. She wasn't a star right away, but I thought from when I first breezed her that she'd be a stakes horse."

With seven starts as a 2-year-old, Belle of Perintown has more seasoning than many horses her age. Her major 2-year-old win came in the Pocahontas, a one-turn mile at Churchill Downs, but the Silverbulletday proved her to be equally effective in a two-turn race.

"She's doing well, and I think she really has a chance to win," said Kenneally, "so we're going to give it a shot."

Bonapaw's next start up in the air

Bonapaw, who faded to eighth Sunday in the $500,000 New Orleans Handicap, was up to his usual tricks Wednesday, bucking and playing as trainer Norman Miller took him onto the racetrack for his daily exercise.

Bonapaw, a dominant sprinter here the last two seasons, has run in routes his first two starts this season.

Bonapaw set the pace in the Whirlaway Handicap and held on for third, but despite getting away with a slow first quarter on Sunday he offered brief resistance when he was tackled by Mineshaft - the eventual winner - and had no punch in the stretch of the 1 1/8-mile Handicap.

Still, Miller said it was possible that Bonapaw would make his next start in another route race. Under consideration are the $150,000 Gulf Coast Classic on March 23 at Delta Downs and the $300,000 Texas Mile on April 26 at Lone Star.

Miller said Bonapaw also could surface in the Count Fleet Sprint Handicap on April 10 at Oaklawn Park.

"We're looking at all the options right now," Miller said.

Seeking the Ring impressive

There were four schooling races here Wednesday morning, but you didn't have to stick around long to see the day's standout.

While the second, third, and fourth races all were timed in over 1:03 for five furlongs, Seeking the Ring won the first race by five lengths in 1:00.60. Her six-furlong gallop-out in 1:15.80 was close to 20 lengths faster than the other races.

Trained by Mark Frostad, Seeking the Ring is a full sister to the stakes winner Special Ring.

In Secure, second to Seeking the Ring, showed good early speed and was second by eight lengths.

- Trainer Neil Howard said that he will now point Mineshaft, who won the Grade 2 New Orleans Handicap on Sunday, to the Ben Ali Stakes at Keeneland on April 25. Quick Tip, who won Saturday's Bayou Breeders' Cup Handicap at Fair Grounds, will likely make her next start in Keeneland's Jenny Wiley Stakes on April 13, Howard said.

- additional reporting by Marcus Hersh