06/22/2009 11:00PM

Claiming Crown eyed for Love to Tell

Lynn Roberts
Love to Tell wins the Bayou, one of two Fair Grounds stakes wins.







Love to Tell won two stakes during the Fair Grounds meet, and her record will make her a chief player in next month's Claiming Crown. Trainer Mike Burgess said earlier this week that the Louisiana Downs-based runner is being pointed for the $100,000 Tiara. For fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles on turf, the race will be run at Canterbury Park in Minnesota on July 25.

"She's eligible by just a few days for the Claiming Crown," Burgess said. "So, we're probably looking at that. Then, we could give her some time off until Fair Grounds, because she really likes that turf course there."

Love to Tell won the $60,000 Pago Hop and the $125,000 Bayou Handicap in New Orleans. She was to run Wednesday night at Indiana Downs in the $75,000 Indiana Live! Casino Stakes, then is to return home to prepare for the Claiming Crown.

Love to Tell, 4, is eligible for the Tiara because she began her career in a $16,000 maiden claiming race at Fair Grounds in January 2008. She won her maiden a few starts later for a $30,000 claiming price, then began her ascent up the class ladder, taking the $50,000 Little Treasure and $75,000 Honeymoon last meet at Louisiana Downs.

Burgess said there is a chance Love to Tell could seek stakes action this meet at Louisiana Downs, perhaps in the $75,000 River Cities on the Super Derby undercard Sept. 19.

Another quality runner emerging for the Burgess barn is Dancin Perfect, a 3-year-old filly who won an allowance turf route by six lengths last Saturday at Louisiana Downs. She could make her stakes debut soon, said Burgess.

Commander Buck rough and ready

There are several indicators Commander Buck is coming into Thursday's seventh race in good order. The chief one is that his trainer, Tom Howard, sustained a blister on his right hand Tuesday morning as he accompanied Commander Buck by pony during the horse's gallop session at Louisiana Downs.

"He's so strong, I had to hang on to him to train him," Howard said. "He's full of himself.

"He's not mean. It's just when he plays, he plays rough, and it's rough on his handlers."

It doesn't help matters that Commander Buck is massive, as he stands over 17 hands tall. That kind of physical presence coupled with the fact that he wins his fair share of races has made Commander Buck, now 8, a longtime popular horse in the region.

He will run Thursday in a $10,000 optional claimer at about 1 1/16 miles on turf. He is eligible for the allowance conditions, and will be making a rare turf start in the race.

"The conditions are really what put us in there," Howard said. "It wasn't just the turf."

Commander Buck is stakes-placed on turf, having been second in the $50,000 Barksdale at Louisiana Downs back in May 2006. His last grass race came in October 2007, when he was a close fourth in an allowance at Louisiana Downs. He races for Lewis Matthews Jr.

Work still pending for Summer Bird

Trainer Tim Ice has not yet pinpointed a workout date for Belmont Stakes hero Summer Bird, who galloped 1 1/2 miles at his Louisiana Downs base Tuesday. A breeze that had been scheduled for last weekend was canceled to keep the horse fresh, as his next start is not expected to come until the first weekend in August.

Summer Bird is likely to run next in the Grade 1, $1 million Haskell at Monmouth Park on Aug. 2, although his connections have also made him eligible for the Grade 2, $500,000 Jim Dandy at Saratoga the previous day.

"He's doing awesome," said Ice.

Ice said plans are to work Summer Bird at Louisiana Downs sometime before the end of this month. He will then ship to the East Coast.

* Peninsula Gaming, which owns Evangeline Downs, announced it has entered into an agreement to purchase a riverboat casino, the Amelia Belle. It is located about 90 miles from Evangeline.