07/12/2004 11:00PM

Crawfish King looks for real

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The speed and dominance with which Crawfish King won the $50,000 Pioneer Stakes at Louisiana Downs on Saturday suggests he will be a major force among 2-year-olds the rest of the meet.

Crawfish King won his maiden in the 5 1/2-furlong race, when he opened up by 2 1/2 lengths during a first quarter-mile in 21.81 seconds, then went on to win by 7 1/2 lengths. For his effort, he earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 85.

"He ran a nice race and pulled up great," said Bubba Cascio, who trains Crawfish King for Blackjack Thoroughbreds. "There's a lot to like about him. He has a good attitude."

Calling Crawfish King "a sound colt," Cascio expressed confidence the horse can stretch out to two turns successfully.

Crawfish King is by a son of Storm Cat, Just a Cat, and out of the winning Zuppardo's Prince mare To Geaux.

He will be pointed for the inaugural $50,000 Southern Beau for Louisiana-breds on Aug. 29. That race will be held at Louisiana Downs.

"We'd like to stay with Louisiana-breds, although he ran with open company in the Pioneer," said Cascio.

Other stakes for 2-year-olds at the meet include the $75,000 Harrah's Juvenile at a mile on turf Sept. 25, and the $50,000 Star Dust for Louisiana-breds on Oct. 23.

Crawfish King was ridden in the Pioneer by leading jockey Lonnie Meche, and is based at Lone Star Park near Dallas, where Cascio has a stable of horses. Lone Star closed its meet out on Sunday, but has remained open for training because it will have a fall meet for Thoroughbreds in October.

August return possible for Gonzalez

Jockey Carlos Gonzalez is aiming for an early August return to the races. Gonzalez fractured his lower right leg in two places in a spill at Lone Star Park the third week of May.

He has since undergone surgery in Dallas to have a plate put in.

"I feel okay," said Gonzalez, who was at Louisiana Downs last week. "I'll ride here until Delta Downs opens."

The downtime is rare for Gonzalez. The last time he was forced to miss riding because of an injury was 1997, when he fractured his collarbone at Lone Star.

Gonzalez is the seventh all-time leading rider at Louisiana Downs with 922 victories at the track. He was the meet's leading rider in 1999, and was the track's top apprentice in 1987.

Maiden winners top allowance

Lunar Rendezvous, Volobee, and Catlaan, who each won maiden races in their last starts, will take on entry-level allowance rivals in the featured ninth race Thursday. The race, to be run at about 1 1/16 miles on turf, has a purse of $25,000.

Lunar Rendezvous was set to run on turf last out, but wet weather forced her race to the main track. She romped by 5 3/4 lengths anyway, and earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 80, the top last-race number among all starters Friday.

As for her turf potential, Lunar Rendezvous had run third and second in two turf starts prior to her June 26 maiden win. John Jacinto has the mount for trainer Cliff Haydel.

Volobee closed from well back for a two-length win in a maiden special weight on turf May 20. There appears to be a nice amount of speed to fuel her late run on Thursday, and she could be sitting on another strong race for trainer Andrew Leggio Jr.

Catlaan, who drew off by 5 3/4 lengths last out in an off-the-turf race for statebreds June 25, also figures to run well.

* Beau's Town worked five furlongs in 59.60 seconds Saturday at Louisiana Downs in preparation for the Grade 1 Bing Crosby Breeders' Cup at Del Mar on July 25.