07/30/2003 11:00PM

Evangeline: 'Smoke' hopes to fire

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LAFAYETTE, La. - Streak of Smoke, second in the "Shine" Young Futurity in his most recent trip to the post, will try to do one better Saturday night as he heads up the cast for the Evangeline Downs Sales Futurity. The $35,000-guaranteed, five-furlong feature is for 2-year-olds consigned and passed through the sales ring at the 2003 Evangeline Downs 2-year-olds in training sale in March.

Tower Equities LLC and Perry Judice purchased Streak of Smoke, a Smoke Glacken colt out of the Malagra mare Streak of Malagra, for $55,000 at the sale. He made his much-anticipated debut in the first maiden race of the season on May 26 and ran an even fifth. Trainer Carrol Castille added blinkers for his next start, a qualifying trial for the "Shine" Futurity, and Streak of Smoke responded with a four-length win, showing much-improved early foot.

After shaking clear in the finals, Streak of Smoke was unable to withstand the late charge of heavy favorite Ten Times Better while remaining well clear of the others. There does not appear to be any Ten Times Betters in Saturday's race, as Streak of Smoke should enjoy the role of heavy favorite. James Weatherly will once again be in the saddle at 116 pounds.

Courtney's Birthday appears to be Streak of Smoke's main threat. A Zuppardo's Prince filly, Courtney's Birthday won her only start in a laugher, drawing clear by more than a dozen lengths in a time of 1:00.60 for five furlongs. At 113 pounds, Casey Fusiler will again ride.

Queenhanna's Home, a winner at first asking at Louisiana Downs on July 6, also comes highly regarded. The daughter of Homebuilder continues to work well between starts and will carry 113 pounds with Luis Quinonez aboard.