01/03/2008 12:00AM

Fass Feat, Tortuga Straits in rematch in Cypress


Fass Feat and Tortuga Straits are the most prominent players in a tough-to-separate group of older Louisiana-breds entered for Saturday night's $60,000 Cypress at Delta Downs.

Other contenders in the nine-horse field are Southern Invasion and Magic Sunset, who each placed in stakes won by sidelined division leader Costa Rising, and Z Storm, who won the $50,000 Louisiana Champions Day Starter.

"It's evenly matched," said Ralph Irwin, who trains Tortuga Straits. "It looks like there's several in there that can get the job done, and hopefully we mix it up well with them."

The Cypress is one of two statebred stakes on the card, both preps for the $1 million Louisiana Premier Night program at Delta on Feb. 2.

In the $60,000 Camelia, multiple stakes winner Ahead of Her Time makes her first start since a blowout win on the Louisiana Champions Day program at Fair Grounds on Dec. 8.

Fass Feat comes into the Cypress off a two-length win over Tortuga Straits in the $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Sprint. He will be stretching out from a one-turn six furlongs to two turns for the seven-furlong Cypress, but Fass Feat has won at Delta going seven furlongs, having taken the Bayou State there in March.

"At Delta, the seven-eighths is kind of a sprint because it's got the short stretch," said Emile Schwandt, who trains Fass Feat.

Schwandt said he would like to see Fass Feat sit just off the pace. The horse will break from post 3 under Kerwin Clark.

Kirk LeBlanc has the mount on Tortuga Straits. A stakes winner at Delta, he will be removing blinkers for the Cypress. Tortuga Straits first raced in blinkers two starts ago, finishing second in an allowance race Oct. 27 in his return from a two-month layoff.

"It helped him in his works," said Irwin. "It appeared to keep him just a little more focused."

On Champions Day, Irwin said, Tortuga Straits "ran in spurts rather than fluidly."

"So," he said, "I took him over to Louisiana Downs and worked him out of the gate and he worked exceptionally well without them. So, I just kind of felt I might be getting in his way a little with those blinkers."

Also in the Cypress is Power Surge, winner of the $75,000 Gentilly.

As for Ahead of Her Time, she crushed a field of stakes winners by 11 1/2 lengths in the $100,000 Ladies, a performance that makes her the one to beat in the Camelia. Her chief rivals are recent stakes winner Zarb's Ballerina and wire-to-wire threat Eccentric Girl.