01/17/2004 1:00AM

Fair Grounds: Arcus alone on lead


A pace duel flattened Arcus in his last start. In the $75,000 Crescent City Derby at Fair Grounds, Arcus ($28.80) had things his way on the lead, and the more jockey Shane Laviolette asked, the more Arcus gave.

Walk This Way, the favorite, and Old Lee both made runs in the stretch, but Arcus had enough resolve to hold on for a 1 1/2-length win, covering 1 1/16 miles in 1:48.04.

The Crescent City is restricted to Louisiana-breds, but this still was a major victory for Laviolette and Al Sider, who trains Arcus for owners Glen Jones and Missy Rutherford. Horses from Sider's string do not often win stakes, and Laviolette, whose main business is in Chicago, scrapes through the winter looking for live mounts at Fair Grounds.

Running on a very sloppy racetrack, Arcus sprinted to a clear early lead, running a quarter-mile in 23.48 seconds and a half-mile in 47.56. Those are legitimate splits for Fair Grounds, but this time Arcus raced in the clear. Running without pace pressure, Arcus carried his momentum into the stretch. He appeared to grow weary in the final furlong, but neither Walk This Way nor Old Lee could capitalize.