05/31/2004 11:00PM

Electrode speediest of the lot

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BOSSIER CITY, La. - Something is going to have to give in Thursday's seven-furlong optional claiming headliner at Louisiana Downs. Half of the field is turning back to one turn after unsuccessfully trying to carry their speed going a route, while the other half must deal with some additional real estate after racing at shorter sprint distances.

One thing the entire group has in common is plenty of early speed. Electrode appears to be the quickest of the quick and is the only one coming into Thursday's race off a victory. Trained by Cole Norman, Electrode wired a group of optional claimers at Lone Star in April, covering the 6 1/2 furlongs in just over 1:15. In his most recent local start, he won the Island Whirl Handicap last fall on closing weekend in his lone start at seven furlongs.

The likely favorite, Electrode was entered and scratched twice last weekend, from the King's Court Stakes here and from an allowance race at Lone Star Park. Norman has named John Jacinto to ride.

Golden Hare, 5, will be making his first start in almost a year. Trained on the West Coast by Richard Mandella earlier in his career, he came under Bret Calhoun's care in time for a fifth-place performance to graded winner Pie N Burger in the Bob Johnson Memorial Stakes at Lone Star last July. He has not raced since but has been training well for his return, including a bullet six-furlong move from the gate last week in 1:12.40. Leading rider Lonnie Meche will be in the saddle.

Rail Rose shortens up on Thursday after a front-running second-place finish in the opening-day John Franks Memorial three weeks ago. His only previous attempt at seven furlongs resulted in a second-place finish in a statebred stakes here last August. Jerri Nichols rides.

King Zonic and Record Assembly battled on the front end in a salty money allowance affair on May 23 before finishing third and fourth.

Each has limited sprint experience but has shown considerable fondness for the local oval. Roman Chapa will be aboard King Zonic and Jose Riquelme will ride Record Assembly.

Zee Oh Six, the winner of the Houston Sprint Championship at Sam Houston earlier this year, and Lahinch, an improving sort under the care of Pat Mouton, complete the field.