09/03/2004 12:00AM

Crowned King strong regardless of surface


Trainer Billy McKeever cannot decide whether Crowned King is better on dirt or turf, and that is a good dilemma to have in the face of a wavering weather forecast that may move the $50,000 Sport City Handicap from turf to dirt Sunday at Louisiana Downs.

Crowned King will take on six in the Sport City, a 1 1/16-mile turf race for 3-year-olds and up that will produce starters for the Louisiana Downs Handicap on Sept. 26. Among Crowned King's rivals Sunday are stakes winners Rockchalk Jayhawk and Honorable Pic, as well as Gentlemen J J, who is making his first start since running third in the $222,000 Connally Breeders' Cup at Sam Houston on April 10.

Crowned King has won four stakes during his career, with two of them coming on turf - over a soft course in the $200,000 USA at Lone Star Park and firm footing in the $50,000 Bossier City at Louisiana Downs. He is set to move back to the grass for the Sport City after closing from well back to finish second in the $50,000 Blue Skies on July 25.

"He had to work real hard in that race," said McKeever. "On the second turn, he didn't have a horse beat.

I'm glad to be back on the grass, but we might not be either with the weather. I don't know if he's better on turf or dirt. It's hard to say. But he does like the Louisiana Downs turf course."

Crowned King turned in a stunning closing move to win the Bossier City last year at Louisiana Downs.

Luis Quinonez will ride Crowned King for the first time Sunday. He has won six races and $444,980 for McKeever Racing Stable.