11/25/2008 12:00AM

Foreign Production still untested


Trainer James "Sweet" Hodges figured he might get a decent line on his sharp Louisiana-bred 2-year-old Foreign Production by running him in the Old Hickory, an open stakes race last Saturday at Fair Grounds. After a vastly troubled career debut, Foreign Production walloped Louisiana-bred maidens in his second start, then thrashed more Louisiana-breds in a division of the Louisiana Stallion Stakes at Louisiana Downs. The Old Hickory, Hodges thought, would have better horses that could offer Foreign Production a sterner challenge.

"Nothing really had tested this horse, and I don't know how good he is," Hodges said Tuesday morning. "I thought I'd find out Saturday, but I guess not."

Indeed, Foreign Production went about his business in the same fashion Saturday as he had facing presumably easier company on the other side of the state. He pressed a swift pace set by favored Forty Nine Thieves, put that horse away at the top of the stretch, and went on to an easy 2 3/4-length victory.

Now, it is on to the $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Juvenile here early next month, and if Foreign Production continues this sort of development, he will make all kinds of hay in Louisiana-bred stakes races the rest of this season.

Glamorous pedigree you will not find here, but Foreign Production is a pretty good-looking chestnut colt. He is by the $1,500 sire Run Production, whom Foreign Production's owner and breeder, the Foxwood Plantation, brought to Louisiana strictly to mate with many of its mares who are by Zarbyev, Hodges said. Foreign Production's dam, Foreign Envoy, never even made the races.

"He's just one of those deals that comes along once in a while," Hodges said. "Just a stone runner."

Hodges said he thinks Foreign Production, who already has won over seven furlongs, could well stretch out to at least 1 1/16 miles. For now, that's not a question that needs to be answered, with many shorter Louisiana-bred stakes upcoming. The first is on Champions Day, and Foreign Production might not be tested there, either.

Star Guitar tunes up for Sprint

Louisiana Champions Day got another live runner when Star Guitar, returning to the good form he showed at the start of his career here a year ago, won a Louisiana-bred sprint allowance race by three lengths on Sunday. Breaking from the fence, Star Guitar rated nicely, came between horses in the stretch, and easily beat the statebred-restricted stakes horse Pantera Phantom.

Star Guitar won his career debut at Fair Grounds by more than six lengths a year and a day before his Sunday victory. He was a prompt winner of the Champions Day Juvenile, but came up with an injury that kept him out of action until Sept. 25. Trainer Al Stall said he had planned on two races at the Louisiana Downs meet, but when Fair Grounds opened earlier this year, giving Stall more time to find a local Champions Day prep, he changed course. Star Guitar finished third in his comeback race on Sept. 25, geared up after shipping into New Orleans, and looked like his old self winning on Sunday.

While Stall said Star Guitar would race in the Sprint on Champions Day, route racing could be somewhere in his future.

"He's a big long-striding horse, and he definitely settles, just instantly switches off," Stall said.

Terrain responds to addition of blinkers

The Stall-trained Terrain keeps coming close in graded stakes races - third in the Arlington-Washington Futurity (placed first via double DQ), second in the Breeders' Futurity, a close fourth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. Sound like a horse that might do well racing in blinkers? Stall thinks so. After galloping Terrain in blinkers several times, Stall worked Terrain with his hood on Sunday, and Terrain responded with an in-company, bullet five-furlong work in 1:00.40.

"We've noticed improvement just galloping in the morning, backing up, things like that," Stall said of Terrain's equipment change. "The concentration is better. He can be a little flitty."

Terrain remains on course to start in the $750,000 Delta Jackpot on Dec. 5 at Delta Downs.

Torres remains white hot

Two three-day race weeks into the Fair Grounds meet, the list of leading riders is topped by the same name as after week one: Francisco Torres.

Torres won four races on Nov. 16, and he won four more this past Saturday. His nine wins are four more than second-leading rider Jamie Theriot, who has ridden 17 fewer horses at the meet. Torres's 42 mounts are tops so far this season.

The jockey colony will become much tougher once the Churchill Downs fall meet ends Saturday, and riders currently in Kentucky come south for the winter.