05/30/2007 12:00AM

Don's Boy picks up right where he left off


BOSSIER CITY, La. - It took a while, but the ultra-talented Don's Boy finally made his long awaited first start against winners in last Saturday's first-level allowance feature. The result was not as one-sided as his 16-plus length margin of victory and 94 Beyer Speed Figure from his debut at Retama last fall, but it was impressive enough.

Don's Boy, a 3-year-old son of Marked Tree, won by 2 1/4 lengths after stalking the pace under Cody Meche. The final time for the 6 1/2 furlongs was a rapid 1:16.18 and earned Don's Boy a 90 Beyer.

"We had him ready to go last fall when we were up at Churchill Downs," trainer Morris Nicks said Sunday morning. "He had some shins come up. Nothing serious, but I was extra careful with him and in no hurry since he certainly had the look of quality to him."

Nicks took a small string back to Churchill during Derby Week following the conclusion of the Oaklawn meeting. Included in that group was Don's Boy. Nicks entered him in an entry-level allowance but he was among the also-eligibles and didn't get into the field.

Nicks, who trains Don's Boy for owner and namesake Don Eberts, stressed that patient handling remains in the immediate future for the colt.

"We would like to see a nonwinners of three in about a month or so," Nicks said. "Maybe going seven furlongs to see how he handles a little more ground."

Don's Boy was bred in Texas by Eberts and is out of the Dixieland Band mare Matika, who has been a useful producer with all six of her foals having been winners. There is no black type in her history but that appears likely to change before the year is out.

Autrey entry powerful in feature

The phrase "stakes-caliber allowance race" is bantered about quite often these days, but in the case of Friday's featured ninth race, it could not be more appropriate.

The $31,000 race carries no conditions, and as a result the 5 1/2-furlong sprint drew Smoke Mountain, winner of the Ford Express Stakes at Lone Star in his last start, as well as multiple stakes winner Premier Dance. The two are owned by Charles Fletcher and trained by Cody Autrey, and will be coupled in the wagering.

Friday also marks the return of last year's King's Court Stakes winner Venomous. The Pat Mouton-trained Venomous had a busy campaign over the winter at Fair Grounds, winning the $100,000 Colonel Power and just missing in his most recent start, the $139,000 D.F. Kenner Stakes in late March.

Others in the field include the Bob Shultz-trained entry of Charles Edwin and Trouble Now. The pair of Texas-breds journey over from Lone Star Park, where each has won in statebred company this spring.

Nuttyboom, idle since winning the J.R. Straus Memorial Stakes at Retama last fall, is scheduled to make his 2007 debut for trainer Ralph Irwin.

Key West Breeze, who has been the model of consistency for trainer Jake Leger, makes the trip up from Evangeline Downs, where he won an optional claiming race in his last start.