03/06/2008 1:00AM

Euroears steps up again, and still hard to beat


Maiden-special-weight, entry-level allowance, second-level allowance, two $100,000 stakes races - Euroears has climbed nimbly up every rung of the class ladder so far. The $200,000 Duncan Kenner Stakes on Saturday at Fair Grounds represents another step up, but what reason has Euroears given to suggest he won't beat these horses, too?

Thirty-nine foes have tried to beat Euroears so far. All have failed, but six more were entered to face him in Saturday's race, which will be contested at six furlongs on dirt. One of those horses, King of the Roxy, was cross-entered in the Richter Scale at Gulfstream Park.

Euroears, a 4-year-old Langfuhr colt with Texas connections, is owned by James and Marilyn Helzer, and trained by Bret Calhoun. He won his career debut last July at Lone Star by nearly 10 lengths, won an allowance race at Remington by six in August, and then got some time off because of sore shins. The winning has continued through the Fair Grounds meet - two victories in turf sprints and another in the Gaudin Memorial at six furlongs on dirt.

Skeptics will point out that Euroears has never raced against competition as deep as that in the Kenner. Proponents of the horse, whose massive chestnut hindquarters radiate speed and power, might suggest we have not yet seen the best of Euroears.

That might be Calhoun's take. He said after Euroears tracked a fast pace and turned back all closers in the Feb. 9 Colonel Power on turf that he had no strong idea whether Euroears was better on turf or dirt. And the colt is relaxed enough in his training and overall approach that his connections plan to try longer races following the Fair Grounds meet.

Relaxed though he may be, Euroears could wind up in front Saturday. He looks faster than the two horses to his inside, King of the Roxy and Noonmark, and Semaphore Man led all the way to win the King Cotton last time out at Oaklawn mainly because there was no true speed horse in the race and he had drawn the rail.

Nonetheless, Semaphore Man's performance that day, and subsequent blazing workouts, suggest it is a different horse shipping to New Orleans this week than the one who came Jan.o12 for the Gaudin. That race was Sempaphore Man's first in almost 11 months, and he broke slowly, then tired in the final furlong to finish third, a couple of lengths behind Euroears.

"I think he just needed a race," said trainer Kelly Von Hemel. "He's a sharp horse right now."

Noonmark makes his first start at Fair Grounds, but his trainer, Steve Asmussen, had won 74 races here this meet alone through last Sunday. Noonmark, 5, appears to be coming into his own, with a second-level allowance win at Churchill in November preceding a two-length score in the Jan. 5 Mr. Prospector Handicap at Gulfstream.

King of the Roxy - provided he actually starts here - will be coming from off the pace at this distance, as will Les Grands Trois, who will try to bounce back from a disappointing fifth-place finish over Santa Anita's synthetic racing surface in the Malibu Stakes on Dec. 26.

"He got stuck down on the inside that day, and it was no good," trainer Bobby Frankel said.

Truelyonbroadway is a developing 4-year-old whose best chance is on a wet track. Roi Maudit, another Florida shipper, was fourth to Noonmark in the Mr. Prospector in his last start.