08/13/2007 11:00PM

Costa Rising cuts dashing figure

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Costa Rising will bring one of the year's highest Beyer Speed Figures into next month's $200,000 Unbridled Breeders' Cup Handicap at Louisiana Downs. He will be moving back to turf for the 1 1/16-mile race following a 12-length victory in the $200,000 Evangeline Mile, for which he earned a Beyer Figure of 114. Costa Rising, who is 2 for 2 over the Louisiana Downs turf course, ran the distance at Evangeline on Saturday night in a track-record time of 1:36.51.

"What was so impressive about it was the ease with which he did it," said Glenn Delahoussaye, who trains Costa Rising for Charles Castille Jr.

The Beyer Figure ranks fourth among all horses who have raced at distances of up to a mile so far in 2007. Rick Lee, a Beyer Speed Figure associate, assigned Costa Rising the 114.

"The number speaks highly of the horse," he said. "He's always been dominant in stakes restricted to Louisiana-breds, but his 12-length win over graded stakes winner Super Frolic suggests he may be ready to move into a graded stakes himself."

Delahoussaye could start thinking that way in the future with Costa Rising, a 4-year-old who has won 11 races and $674,946. He said he looks for the Unbridled, which will be run on the Grade 2 Super Derby undercard Sept. 22, to be a good test back for Costa Rising.

"If he can string two or three of these good races, then naturally you have to expand your horizons with him," Delahoussaye said. "We'll finish the year up here in Louisiana. We'll go for the Champions Day Classic at Fair Grounds. If he wins that, maybe we'll try some of the better handicap horses for the next year, with Oaklawn opening in January and the New Orleans Handicap at the Fair Grounds. I'm willing to be bold with the horse if he shows me that's where he needs to be. I want to give him the opportunity."

Costa Rising was making his second start for Delahoussaye in the Evangeline Mile, following a third-place finish in the $100,000 Pola Benoit Memorial at Evangeline on June 30. That race was Costa Rising's first start since February, when he underwent arthroscopic surgery to remove a small bone chip from his left knee. Delahoussaye removed blinkers from Costa Rising for the first time in his career for the Evangeline Mile, a race in which he set the pace and was authoritative through the stretch. He said the horse seems to like being fully aware of all going on around him.

"We worked him about 10 days before the Mile with the blinkers off, and he worked just phenomenally," said Delahoussaye. "We worked him from the gate. He left as fast as any one-turn sprinter I've ever seen in my life. I was like, 'Oh, we might have found the light switch.'

"I don't train my horses with blinkers, and I found that he was just so relaxed, but yet when you just give him a little cue he would immediately pick it up. I studied his tapes. This horse would never run off like he did the other night. The minute he'd make the lead he would always take his ears and cock them straight up and he'd wait on horses. I kept saying, 'Man, that's going to get him beat one day.' The better the horses get, you can't wait on those horses."

Following the Unbridled, Delahoussaye said, Costa Rising could use the $75,000 Gold Cup for Louisiana-breds at Delta Downs on Nov. 17 as a springboard to the Champions Day Classic. Costa Rising won both races in 2006.

Big names among Super Derby nominees

Street Sense, Curlin, and Rags to Riches, who each accounted for a leg of this year's Triple Crown, were among the 61 horses nominated to the Grade 2, $500,000 Super Derby at Louisiana Downs. If any of the three enters the 1 1/8-mile race, the purse will be boosted to $1 million. The Super Derby will be run on Sept. 22.

Other nominees of note include Any Given Saturday, winner of the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational; Hard Spun, the runner-up in the Kentucky Derby; Tiago, the winner of the Santa Anita Derby; Zanjero, winner of the recent Grade 3 West Virginia Derby; and Nobiz Like Shobiz, Dominican, Stormello, and Delightful Kiss.

The $100,000 Prelude at Louisiana Downs on Saturday is the local prep for the Super Derby. The winner receives a berth into the race. The Prelude will be supported by four other stakes, including a pair of turf routes for 2-year-olds. Mark Midland, vice president of racing operations at Louisiana Downs, said there will be an all-stakes pick four on Saturday, and it will include the Prelude.