01/19/2002 12:00AM

Fair Grounds: Screen Idol takes to two turns

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NEW ORLEANS - Screen Idol looked good winning his debut at Fair Grounds three weeks ago. He looked even better Saturday when he thumped seven rivals in the $75,000 Crescent City Derby.

A strong finish in a sprint race does not always translate into two-turn ability, but Screen Idol, off a closing half-length triumph in his six-furlong debut, improved significantly in the 1 1/16-mile Crescent City, which was restricted to Louisiana-breds.

Away cleanly under jockey David Guillory, Screen Idol rated along the inside while behind a pair of dueling leaders who set a moderate pace over a sloppy racetrack. Screen Idol moved to the lead easily when Guillory asked him turning for home, and was the only horse running strongly in the last quarter-mile. Screen Idol pulled steadily away from the field in the final furlong and won by 7 3/4 lengths. He was timed in 1:47.40 and paid $10 to win. Doeny Rain rallied late to nip Xtreme Monique for second, while the heavy favorite, Zuppy, finished fifth.

Saturday's race was a flashback to 1996 for Screen Idol's owner, Foxwood Plantation, and trainer, Bret Thomas. Sixteen years ago they won the Crescent City with Zarb's Magic, who, at age 9, won a starter allowance earlier on the card.