02/01/2007 12:00AM

At five furlongs, Brother Bean merits edge


Three weeks ago at Delta Downs, the 7-year-old warrior Cort's P.B. fended off a talented, lightly raced horse named Tensas Phone Call to win the $40,000 Cypress Stakes by a nose. But another youngster with an apparently bright future, Brother Bean, awaits Saturday night in the $100,000 Premier Night Sprint at Delta.

On paper, Cort's P.B. and Brother Bean look a cut above the other eight entered in the Sprint, though Nitelite Gold has yet to taste defeat after three races. Nitelite Gold debuted in a $25,000 maiden claimer, but has won two allowance races by a combined seven lengths. Delta is his home track, but he has yet to face the sort of opposition he will hook Saturday night.

Trainer Pat Mouton and owner Maggi Moss claimed Cort's P.B. for $40,000 out of a win Sept. 15 at Louisiana Downs, and in three subsequent starts, Cort's P.B. has two stakes wins and a third in the Louisiana Champions Day Sprint at Fair Grounds. What he lacks, however, is an especially good record at Saturday's five-furlong distance, where Cort's P.B. has won only once in 10 tries.

Brother Bean, on the other hand, is plenty quick for the short trip. His career debut in mid-August came at five furlongs, and he won it by more than seven lengths, but Brother Bean's real coming-out party came in the Champions Day Sprint, where he set a sizzling pace and held tough against the crack Louisiana-bred sprinter Meteor Impact, finishing second while more than eight lengths clear of Cort's P.B. Brother Bean was second again in an open allowance race Jan. 7 at Fair Grounds, but there was no shame in that defeat, as Brother Bean got trapped down at the fence on a sloppy track and gave way late to the very nice Dallas Stewart-trained Island Warrior.

Perfect record in jeopardy

He required an assist from a post-race medication disqualification in the Jean Lafitte Stakes last November, but Tortuga Straits enters the $125,000 Premiere Prince with a record that reads 5 for 5, and he clearly is the horse to beat in the seven-furlong, two-turn race.

The Prince, for 3-year-olds, drew a field of 10, and six of them made their most recent start at Fair Grounds. Among those six is Tortuga Straits, who actually ships in from trainer Ralph Irwin's winter base at Oaklawn Park, where he has posted two recent works prepping for Premier Night. The Jean Lafitte, in which Tortuga Straits finished nine lengths behind Go Poppa Fooze, was Tortuga Straits's only start at Delta, as well as his only try around two turns. He lost five lengths in the stretch to Go Poppa Fooze that night, and could well prove to be a better sprinter than route horse, and with a wide draw Tortuga Straits is no lock.

Others of note include Target of Luck, who has won consecutive starts at Delta, including an open entry-level allowance race last out at the Prince's seven-furlong distance; Timely Sweep, who beat the solid colt Connor's Call in a Fair Grounds maiden race last out; Margarita Man, a multiple Louisiana-bred stakes winner for trainer Steve Asmussen; and Forgotten Prince, who failed to stay 1 1/16 miles last out in the Gentilly Stakes at Fair Grounds.

Tensas Yucatan stretches out

Tensas Yucatan concedes experience to eight of her nine rivals in the $125,000 Starlet, but may win the race on talent alone.

Tensas Yucatan, trained by Ralph Nicks, has only one race on her resume, but in it she rallied strongly from off the pace to easily win a Fair Grounds maiden race. She did so at odds of 4-5 on the basis of an impressive work tab and because Tensas Yucatan cost $270,000 at auction, a hefty sum for a Louisiana-bred by Ide. Tensas Yucatan stretches out to two turns after a sprint, but looked totally relaxed closing to win her debut.

"To look at her, you'd say she's speedy, but she rates, and she has a nice, long, smooth stride to her," said Nicks. "The two turns is not a question in my mind, but the question is seasoning and timing. As far as talent, she trains like a mighty special individual."

Anything But Quiet - who drew poorly on the far outside - Finally Alone, Huckie, and My Friend Mike also look like contenders.

* Blueyed Lass, the latest in a line of Louisiana-bred stakes horses for the Krantz family, the former Fair Grounds owners, is the horse to beat in the $150,000 Distaff for older females at one mile. The Distaff drew a field of eight and includes the accomplished stakes horse Raspberry Wine.

* The Matron, for older females at five furlongs, attracted just seven entries, and looks like Indigo Girl's race to lose.

* Four starter-allowance races round out the 10-race card.