08/09/2004 11:00PM

Fine-tuning Britt's Jules


After setting a quick pace in Saturday night's Grade 3, $600,000 West Virginia Derby, Britt's Jules might get an equipment makeover for the Grade 2, $500,000 Super Derby next month at Louisiana Downs.

Co-owner and trainer Eric Guillot plans to work Britt's Jules without blinkers, and might remove them from the colt for the Super Derby, which will be run on Sept. 25.

"We'll see if we can get him to relax a little bit," said Guillot.

The trainer is also thinking about changing bits and adding a figure-eight to Britt's Jules's equipment. The figure-eight is a noseband that keeps a horse's mouth closed, ensuring he breathes through his nose.

Britt's Jules jumped out to a fast start in the West Virginia Derby, and led the field through a mile in 1:35.83. He finished third in the nine-furlong race, beaten 3 1/2 lengths by the winner, Sir Shakleton.

Corey Lanerie rode Britt's Jules in the West Virginia Derby, but Guillot said Guy Smith would ride the horse back in the Super Derby. That is because because Smith is a regular rider for Guillot, whose stable is split between a farm near Evangeline Downs in Lafayette, La., and Louisiana Downs.

Britt's Jules was scheduled to arrive at Louisiana Downs on Wednesday. Guillot said there is an outside chance the colt could start in the track's $60,000 Prelude Stakes on Aug. 28.

Right now, however, the plan is to wait for the Super Derby. And with a good performance in that race, Guillot said he would like to see Britt's Jules start in the Grade 3, $250,000 Lone Star Derby at 1 1/16 miles at Lone Star Park on Oct. 29, the day before the track hosts the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships.

Britt's Jules has won five stakes and $259,898 in his career, and earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 100 for his effort in the West Virginia Derby. He races for Southern Equine Stables, which purchased him privately a few weeks before he won the $50,000 Excalibur at Louisiana Downs on June 26.

Walk in the Snow in feature

Walk in the Snow, the horse of the meet in 2002, will make his second start back from a nine-month layoff in the featured ninth race Thursday. An allowance that carries an optional claiming price of $50,000, the one mile and 70-yard race has drawn a competitive cast of older horses, including King Zonic, Rockchalk Jayhawk, and Dust on the Bottle.

Walk in the Snow was sent off the 4-5 favorite in his comeback race on July 3, when he finished second, beaten a half-length, in an allowance at Evangeline Downs. He has been given a nice amount of time between starts, and the near-bullet five furlongs he worked at Evangeline in 1:02.80 on July 24 suggests he is coming into another strong race Thursday.

Kirk LeBlanc, who was aboard Walk in the Snow when he finished second at 30-1 to Essence of Dubai in the 2002 Super Derby, will be reunited with him on Thursday. Walk in the Snow is owned by Ginger Taylor and is trained by Herman Taylor.

The gelding was given time off to have a bone chip removed from a knee, and his first stakes objective is the $75,000 Shiskabob at Louisiana Downs on Oct. 23.

Rockchalk Jayhawk will be one to reckon with. In his last start, he was a game second in an optional claimer on turf. He will be moving back to dirt, and the last time he made a similar move he won at this level at Louisiana Downs on July 3.

Trainer Donnie Von Hemel has given the mount on Rockchalk Jayhawk to Luis Quinonez.

King Zonic, who has won 5 of 8 starts over the local main track, is another threat. Trainer Kenny Smith has given the mount to leading rider Lonnie Meche.