01/25/2003 12:00AM

Fair Grounds: Saintly Look gets trip


NEW ORLEANS - Post 11 is no man's land in a route race with short run to the first turn. Go for the lead and risk going too fast. Take back and risk a wide trip.

"You're damned if you do and damned if you don't," said jockey Shane Sellers.

But Saintly Look ($10.60) made Sellers's job relatively easy. Breaking on top from the 11 post in the $100,000 Lecomte Stakes at Fair Grounds, Saintly Look and Sellers quickly crossed over to gain favorable position racing head-and-head for the lead. Saintly Look blew past his pace rival, Call Me Lefty, turning for home and drew off to win by 2 3/4 lengths. He ran the mile in 1:37.62.

Saintly Look had won 2 of 4 starts for owner William Carl and trainer Dallas Stewart and had won the Dec. 29 Sugar Bowl Stakes here. At one mile, the Grade 3 Lecomte was his first race around two turns, but Sellers said a relaxed trip in the Sugar Bowl set him up for the longer distance

"You have to run away from the gate to give him a chance," Sellers said. "He broke so sharp I was able to clear without having to use much horse."

Only a head separated Call Me Lefty and Saintly Look on the backstretch, but they benefited from a relatively soft pace, 23.71 seconds for a quarter mile and 46.85 for a half. One-mile races at Fair Grounds end at the sixteenth pole, and Sellers set Saintly Look down as the leaders turned for home.

"He opened up, and with a short stretch they weren't going to catch him," Sellers said,

Call Me Lefty held on for second, a half-length ahead of Winning Fans, a 108-1 shot.