01/26/2002 12:00AM

'Easy' does it in Lecomte


NEW ORLEANS - Easyfromthegitgo drew first blood on the road to the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby, winning the $100,000 Lecomte Stakes by a nose over Sky Terrace at Fair Grounds on Saturday.

It was a game effort by Easyfromthegitgo, who was making his stakes debut, but one that was enhanced by a perfect trip under jockey Donnie Meche, who chalked up career win number 1,000 in the race. Breaking from the rail post, Easyfromthegitgo saved ground the entire race while stalking a quick pace, found room turning for home and ran down Sky Terrace from the two path.

"He beat a very accomplished group of horses," said winning trainer Steve Asmussen. "I do think he got the perfect trip and barely won, so we're going to have to improve if we want to continue on in the division."

One does assume, however, that Easyfromthegitgo will continue on to Fair Grounds's next 3-year-old route stakes, the Grade 3 Risen Star on Feb. 17. Whether or not he has the quality or the stamina to go on to the Louisiana Derby remains to be seen.

Sky Terrace ran an amazing race to be second. Making his first start since November and only his second two-turn start, Sky Terrace, a pace horse, was immediately taken out of his game when he was soundly bumped from both sides leaving the gate. "With the bad break, it didn't help, but I did get him to the first turn in relatively good shape," said jockey Craig Perret.

Still, Sky Terrace was three wide on the first turn and he sped up to contest a fairly quick 47.48-second half-mile, battling War Emblem for the lead. But Sky Terrace battled on gamely in the short stretch run used here in mile races to lose a heartbreaker.

He finished three-quarters of a length in front of It'sallinthechase, who was finishing fastest of all on the outside part of the track. Jeremiah Jack, prominent early, ran evenly to be fourth.

Easyfromthegitgo, a Dehere colt owned by Jim Cassels and Bob Zollars, ran a mile over a fast track in 1:37.98, the quickest time so far this meet. He paid $6 as the narrow favorite.