01/05/2006 12:00AM

Drill Hall has horse-for-course edge


Drill Hall is among a solid field of eight scheduled to run Saturday in the Peninsula Gaming's Lucky Dog Stakes, the premier race for older horses at Evangeline Downs. The one-mile race for 4-year-olds and up carries a $75,000 purse.

, a winner of 5 of his 6 starts locally, comes into the race off an 8 1/4-length victory in an optional claiming prep here Dec. 2. That effort came after he was freshened following a summer campaign in which he won 3 of his 4 starts over this track. His lone defeat here last summer was a close second-place finish in the $100,000 Evangeline Mile Aug. 13.

A son of Saint Ballado who is trained by Keith Bourgeois, Drill Hall is a 10-time winner going a mile, and it appears he is poised to improve on that mark as well as his horse-for-course reputation. Regular rider Steve Bourque will again be in the saddle.

Trainer Larry Robideaux ships in Witt Ante for the Lucky Dog after a fourth-place finish in the Louisiana Champions Day Classic at the Fair Grounds meeting at Louisiana Downs early last month. Witt Ante sprinted clear through an opening quarter of 23.37 seconds and maintained a daylight advantage in that 1 1/8-mile race before faltering in the drive. Witt Ante, 6, has bounced back before and has been remarkably resilient in his 29-race career, with 10 wins and 10 other in-the-money performances. Guy Smith will ride.

is another consistent performer, and he has elevated his game a notch since being claimed by trainer Cody Autrey for Wimp Free Racing in late November. In his two starts since, Kiss the Groom won an optional claiming race at Louisiana Downs - a race that was rained off the turf - and most recently finished second for a $40,000 claiming price. A son of Runaway Groom, he won five times in 2005 and has never been better than he is right now. Casey Fusilier will ride.

Autrey will also send out , who was unplaced as the 2-1 second choice in the $106,000 Zia Park Distance Championship on Dec. 5. That was his first race for Autrey and owners Sandy and Jerry Heflin. He won an optional claiming race at Delaware Park in his previous start, when owned by Godolphin Racing and trained by Saeed bin Suroor. Marlon St. Julien rides Inamorato on Saturday.