05/15/2003 12:00AM

Evangeline: Lota Prince steps up


LAFAYETTE, La. - Lota Prince, 2 for 2 over the Evangeline oval, tries stakes company Saturday night for the first time, when he heads a large and competitive field in the inaugural running of the $35,000 B.B. "Sixty" Rayburn Stakes.

The one-mile Rayburn for Louisiana-bred 3-year-olds is named in honor of the longtime Louisiana state senator and racing advocate.

Lota Prince, owned by Jimmie Hatcher and trained by Sam Breaux, flirted with winning his maiden early in the year at Fair Grounds, before making his first start here April 12.

Stretching out to a mile distance for the first time that night, he stalked the early pace, then drew out impressively to graduate by 7 1/2 lengths. In his next start, Lota Prince sat just off the early leader, then made his move to defeat fellow nonwinners-of-two allowance horses by more than three lengths at a mile and 70 yards.

His stalk-and-pounce running style should once again serve him well Saturday night against a group with plenty of early speed. Jason Trevort again will ride.

Spritely Walker seeks to make amends after failing to win the Au Revoir Stakes as the 4-5 favorite at Delta Downs on March 23. The Steve Asmussen-trained runner had scored back-to-back wins at Fair Grounds before that loss. Leading rider Guy Smith has the call.