03/15/2003 1:00AM

Explosive Bid full of shippers


NEW ORLEANS - Sunday's Explosive Bid Handicap, the last hurrah at Fair Grounds this winter, will send the major stakes portion of this meet out with a bang. As of Saturday, as many as 13 horses were being considered for the $650,000, Grade 2 Explosive Bid, with two or three Californians and perhaps four horses from Florida expected to ship in.

Expected from California are Redattore, winner of the Frank Kilroe Mile in his last start, and Century City, fourth in that race. Fair Grounds racing officials said the Florida-based horses expected to come for the Explosive Bid are Della Francesca, Mr. Pleasentfar, Rouvres, and perhaps Orchard Park.

Trained by Christophe Clement, Rouvres is the most highly regarded of that group. Rouvres won all three of his starts last year in France and was an easy winner in his U.S. debut over a good allowance field Feb. 17 at Gulfstream.

The local contingent is expected to include Candid Glen, Even the Score, Freefourinternet, and Run to Victory. Learned, fifth in the New Orleans Handicap in his last start, is possible. Even the Score finished third last year in the Explosive Bid, while Mystery Giver comes into the race after a dominant win here in the Fair Grounds Breeders' Cup Handicap.

Battle Won, Political Risk separate

Battle Won beat Political Risk here Friday in an allowance race between talented 3-year-old colts, but the two horses are headed in different directions. Trainer Frank Brothers plans to keep Battle Won in one-turn races for now, while Political Risk probably will turn out to be a route horse and will make his next start in a two-turn race at Keeneland.

Both horses had won their career debut in a six-furlong maiden race here, but with better speed than Political Risk, Battle Won had a pace edge in Friday's eighth race, which had only five starters. Battle Won tracked a swift pace and took command in the final furlong, winning by a length in a fast 1:09.47. Political Risk broke from the rail and stayed inside the whole race, and he found his best stride at the finish wire and galloping out around the clubhouse turn.

"He did well," trainer Neil Howard said of Political Risk. "He galloped out like a house on fire, though sometimes you can put too much in that."

Howard said he will consider Political Risk for the Lexington Stakes at Keeneland next month, but that Political Risk is more likely to start in a first-level allowance race at that meet.

Brothers said Battle Won could make his next start either in the Lafayette Stakes at Keeneland or a seven-furlong allowance race there.

* A pair of first-level allowances - races eight and nine - are the nominal features on Monday's card, but the best betting race of the day may be the seventh, a one-mile turf maiden race. Hidden Truth may be a narrow favorite in the race, but the contenders are many.