12/09/2005 12:00AM

A five-star year so far

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Evangeline
Premier Dance may start in the $100,000 Diamond Jo at Evangeline on New Year's Day.

BOSSIER CITY, La. - In a record few 2-year-olds can match, Premier Dance has won five stakes so far this year, and could add to that total before the close of 2005.

Premier Dance, who is based at the Fair Grounds meet at Louisiana Downs, could make his next start at nearby Evangeline Downs in Opelousas, La. He is being considered for the $100,000 Diamond Jo, trainer, Cody Autrey said. The one-mile race, the richest race on the stakes calendar at this Evangeline meet, will be run on Dec. 31.

Premier Dance has ripped through the region's stakes since July, when he won the $75,000 Middleground at Lone Star Park near Dallas. He has not lost since, going on to capture the $50,000 Minstrel at Louisiana Downs in August, the $100,000 Lafayette at Evangeline in September, and both the $50,000 Governor's in October and the $82,100 Eddy County in November at Zia Park in Hobbs, N.M.

The Eddy County was Premier Dance's two-turn debut, and he was a front-running, neck winner under Luis Quinonez. For his effort, he earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 80.

"He only does what he has to do, it seems like," Autrey said of Premier Dance. "Luis said there was never a worry. He said, 'When I asked him, he took off running, and when they came to him, he took off running again.' "

Autrey said Premier Dance will be nominated to the Grade 3, $250,000 Risen Star at 1 1/16 miles at Fair Grounds on Jan. 14, but he might not make his 3-year-old debut until Feb. 20, in the $250,000 Southwest Stakes at one mile at Oaklawn.

Premier Dance has won 6 of 8 starts and $234,380. Bred by the late John Franks, he is a son of Premiership and races for Charles Fletcher.

Lunargal part of huge day

Lunargal, who was a smart maiden winner opening day of the Fair Grounds meet Nov. 19, is now an overnight stakes winner. She shipped to Zia last weekend and won the $42,000 Serena's Song.

Lunargal is a half-sister to Lunarpal, winner of last year's Grade 3 Bashford Manor, Grade 3 Kentucky Breeders' Cup, and Three Chimneys Juvenile. She races for her breeder, Heiligbrodt Racing, and is trained by Steve Asmussen, the same connections behind Lunarpal.

Last weekend, Lunargal was a 5 1/2-length winner of the Serena's Song.

"She stepped it up the other day," Asmussen said. "She looked good winning. I'm hoping she's a stakes-caliber filly at Oaklawn."

Asmussen is pointing Lunargal for the $50,000 Dixie Belle at six furlongs at Oaklawn on Jan. 28.

Lunargal was one of nine winners Asmussen saddled across the country on Dec. 3. He had 25 starters on the day, and his biggest win came with Real Dandy in the $106,000 Zia Park Derby. Asmussen, the nation's leading trainer by wins, spent Dec. 3 at Zia.

"I was able to watch the simulcasts from everywhere," he said. "We had several nice winners. It was a fun day."

Asmussen racked up three of those wins at Louisiana Downs, where he leads the trainer standings. Plans for Real Dandy, who is based at Louisiana Downs along with Lunargal, are still being decided, said Asmussen.

Lovato back in Louisiana

Jockey Anthony Lovato is back riding at Louisiana Downs, where he won the title in 2000, for the first time in more than a year and a half. Lovato left the region to ride in Southern California, and just before coming for the Fair Grounds meet rode briefly in New Mexico.

He is being represented by Robin Pati, who is back as an agent for the first time since the Fair Grounds meet in 1996-1997, when he booked mounts for Frank Lovato Jr., no relation to Anthony Lovato. Pati recently returned to racing because his fishing-guide business lost its boats in Hurricane Katrina.

"I lost everything," Pati said. "I lost both boats, the house and the camp."

* Terry Thompson will be off of his mounts the remainder of the week with a bruised liver. He was injured in a spill last Sunday.

* Training was canceled Friday morning because of freezing temperatures, but the races were able to be conducted Friday.