01/23/2003 12:00AM

Demanding spot for Allspice


NEW ORLEANS - Trainer Gene Cilio thinks Allspice will turn out to be at least as good as Lakenheath, who won the Grade 3 Silverbulletday for him here two seasons ago.

Funny he should mention Lakenheath. She has popped up at Fair Grounds in Saturday's sixth race, a high-end allowance at one mile that drew a field of six. Lakenheath's start comes a day before Allspice races Sunday in the $100,000 Tiffany Lass Stakes, a possible prelude to her own run at the Silverbulletday. Both Allspice and the 5-year-old Lakenheath are owned by Jim Tafel.

The allowance race should be gravy for Lakenheath, who won the $75,000 Truly Bound here Jan. 3 in her last start. There's not another stakes race at this meet for Lakenheath until the Chou Croute Feb. 22.

Allspice's task is more demanding. The ungraded Tiffany Lass brings together a surprisingly strong field headed by Lady Tak, who has never really been tested in three career starts. Lady Tak beat Allspice by five lengths in the Thelma Stakes here last month, but the six-furlong Thelma played to Lady Tak's strengths, while at one mile and around two turns, the Tiffany Lass is much more Allspice's style.

Allspice had never raced at less than seven furlongs before the Thelma. She lost her career debut at two turns on turf before winning her maiden by more than 16 lengths in a one-turn mile at Arlington. On Breeders' Cup weekend, Allspice won the $100,000 Eliza by more than three lengths.

"If she breaks good and does everything she knows how to do, she could be as good as Lakenheath, even better," Cilio said. "She's got a race over the track, and now she gets the added distance. It's everything we wanted for her."

Others expected to challenge Lady Tak on Sunday are Belle of Perintown, Buffalo Jump, Cashmere Miss, Cheryl's Myth, My Trusty Cat, Perfect Wave, and perhaps Lady Mallory.

Stidham's stealth power

Quietly, trainer Mike Stidham has become a player in the local 3-year-old division. Stidham has entered Catalissa, owned by Stonerside Stable, in Saturday's Lecomte, and he has two colts pointing for the Grade 3, $150,000 Risen Star on Feb. 16, Canaan Land and Seattle Hoofer.

Catalissa will be a longshot in the Lecomte, but is a better horse than he showed when beaten nine lengths in the Great State Challenge Juvenile Dec. 7 at Sam Houston.

As for Seattle Hoofer, there is no telling how good he might be. Seattle Hoofer, another Stonerside horse, is by Seattle Slew and has won the first two starts of his career, both at two turns. His allowance win here Jan. 10 was visually astounding. Accelerating quickly on the far turn, Seattle Hoofer was stopped cold, but he swung wide turning for home and quickly opened up, winning by almost six lengths.

"He's doing things the right way, and he came out of the race real well," Stidham said. "As far as how fast he ran, and what was behind him, we don't know that much yet."

Canaan Land won a turf allowance race earlier in the meet and closed strongly to finish second in the Black Gold Handicap, a 7 1/2-furlong turf race. There are no other turf stakes here in the 3-year-old division, so Canaan Land also is likely to come back in the Risen Star. Canaan Land has run well on dirt and has improved since he began racing around two turns.

Prince Alphie back to main track

The situation Stidham faces with Canaan Land is the same one facing Josie Carroll, who trains Prince Alphie, the Black Gold winner. Prince Alphie breezed five furlongs here Wednesday in 1:01.80, his first work since the Black Gold, and on Thursday Carroll said he also was likely to run back in the Risen Star.

"We're going to have to go back to the dirt," Carroll said. "He ran well on dirt, so why not give him another chance?"

Prince Alphie's only two wins have come on turf, but he ran decently at Woodbine last year in a turf race that was rained onto the main track.

Rock Slide back in training

Rock Slide, a game winner of the Tenacious Handicap, has been battling a problem with his foot the last month, but returned to training on Thursday, and trainer Neil Howard said he hopes to have the horse ready for a start in the New Orleans Handicap.

Rock Slide has been fighting a quarter crack since last fall, and after winning the Tenacious on Dec. 8, Howard decided to give Rock Slide's foot a chance to fully recover. "He's looking really good," Howard said. "But there's no way he'll make the [Feb. 9] Whirlaway."

In Rock Slide's absence, his younger full brother Mineshaft has taken over. Mineshaft won the Diplomat Way Handicap and is likely to run again in the Whirlaway.