02/11/2005 1:00AM

Crimson Stag to stay in La.-bred ranks


NEW ORLEANS - Crimson Stag, by far the best Louisiana-bred 3-year-old of his generation, will continue following the path of least resistance, and has been penciled in for a start here March 19 in the $100,000 Gentilly Handicap.

The Gentilly, a one-mile grass race, is restricted to Louisiana-breds, a division that Crimson Stag has swept his way through, with wins here in the Louisiana Champions Day Juvenile at six furlongs and the Crescent City Derby at 1 1/16 miles, and a breathtaking score last weekend in the $125,000 Prince Stakes at Delta Downs.

Seven-furlong races like the Prince are run around two turns at Delta, and in the Crescent City Derby, his only other route race, Crimson Stag had won from the front end. But last Saturday night, he missed the break and was knocked around leaving the gate, and going into the first turn, Crimson Stag had one horse beat in a 10-horse field. Crimson Stag and jockey Robby Albarado started picking off horses on the backstretch; they barreled around the tight second turn, going from eighth to third, and in spite of Delta's short homestretch, managed to win off by almost three lengths.

"He's been awesome," said Stewart, who himself is in the midst of a fairly awesome Fair Grounds meet, with 18 wins from 68 starters, good for fourth in the trainer standings.

Stewart said there are no immediate plans to test Crimson Stag in open company - not when he can stay home and run against statebreds.

"Believe me, he'll get plenty of tests later down the road," Stewart said.

Meanwhile, Stewart said he is considering sending two horses based here to stakes races at Gulfstream Park. Both Cape Hope, a 3-year-old turf filly, and Clock Stopper, a high-class sprinter, lack suitable upcoming spots at Fair Grounds, but there are races for both of them in Florida. Cape Hope could run next Sunday in the Gaily Gaily Stakes, while Clock Stopper may go in the seven-furlong Richter Scale on March 12.

Destiny Calls may face Happy Ticket next out

Destiny Calls came out of her win last weekend at Delta in the $150,000 Premier Night Distaff in good order and could get a rematch with the unbeaten Happy Ticket in the March 18 Red Camelia Handicap, a one-mile grass race that Destiny Calls won last season.

Happy Ticket, who missed the Delta race with a minor ankle injury, easily beat Destiny Calls here in the Champions Day Distaff in early September, but Destiny Calls's trainer, Gary Palmisano, believes his horse is stronger and better now.

"She was knocked out on Champions Day," Palmisano said. "She didn't eat for five days afterward."

Palmisano said he would try to find a prep race for Destiny Calls sometime before the Red Camelia. Late February could also mark the second career race for Blue Eyed Lass, owned, like Destiny Calls, by Vickie Krantz. Blue Eyed Lass impressively won her career debut here in a one-mile Louisiana-bred maiden race, but missed some training with a minor ailment not long afterward.

Biloxi Palace's hoof still sore

This was supposed to have been the weekend that Biloxi Palace, the talented Seattle Slew colt trained by Danny Peitz, ran in the Risen Star Stakes. Instead, Biloxi Palace remains stuck in Peitz's barn, with a sore front hoof that does not seem to improving.

The luck Peitz and owners Robert and Lawana Low have had with Biloxi Palace has been uniformly bad. Biloxi Palace won a maiden sprint race and a one-mile entry-level allowance race earlier in the meet, and came within an hour of running in the Lecomte Stakes on Jan. 7. But as Peitz outfitted Biloxi Palace with his race equipment, he heard the colt cough; the horse had a fever, and had to be scratched.

Then came soreness in a front foot, assumed to be an abscess. But the infection in a foot abscess is eventually supposed to pop through the hoof wall, at which point the soreness dissipates, the healing begins, and a trainer can start thinking about getting back to the racetrack. Biloxi Palace never got the relieving pop, but neither did X-rays or bone scans turn up another problem.

"We're not doing anything with him right now," Peitz said. "We have to sort this out, wait and see what happens."

Crossfield might be ready to win again

After a pair of second-place finishes, it might be Crossfield's turn to win an entry-level turf allowance sprint. Her chance comes in Sunday's featured ninth race, for fillies and mares at about 5 1/2 furlongs on grass.

Crossfield has won just once in 13 starts, though she has finished second four times, but there appears to be enough pace in the race to set up her late run, and Crossfield can save ground from the rail before rallying in the stretch.

Trually Wild, from the Gammy Vazquez barn, has sharp recent form but is unproven on grass.