06/26/2001 11:00PM

French Riviera, fast and good


GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas - Trainer Larry Robideaux Jr. believes French Riviera can develop into his best filly ever. That's high praise from the man who trained Cinemine, a Grade 3 winner of $506,681; Affirmed Classic, a stakes winner of $455,030; and Fair Grounds Oaks winners My Charmer, dam of Horse of the Year Seattle Slew; and Honest and True, dam of champion Epitome.

French Riviera is one of two fillies Robideaux will run Saturday at Lone Star Park on the Stars of Texas Day program, a series of six restricted stakes worth $650,000. French Riviera will run in the $150,000 fillies division of the Texas Thoroughbred Association Sales Futurity, while Nanie's Dinner will go in the $100,000 Allen Bogan Memorial.

"I've probably had a dozen or so good fillies in the past, and I'd say these two fillies compare with a lot of them," said Robideaux.

French Riviera has trained up a storm at Lone Star. In her final work for Saturday she drilled five furlongs in 59.80 seconds. The filly was working as well leading into her debut June 6, when she won one of three trial races for the TTA Sales Futurity. She recorded the fastest time for the finale when she won her trial in 58.09 seconds, earning an 84 Beyer.

Robideaux has been impressed from the start with French Riviera, and thinks she may be more talented than Cinemine, considered one of the fastest female sprinters in the region before she retired last year. "Her works are always about four to five lengths faster than Cinemine's were," said Robideaux. "She's fast, and she's got heart. I think she's probably one of the better fillies I've had. Right now, at this stage of the game, she might be the best."

Nanie's Dinner is one of Robideaux's favorites. She will be tough to handle in the Bogan Memorial, a one-mile race for fillies and mares bred in Texas. Last December, Nanie's Dinner soundly defeated some of the same rivals she will face Saturday when she won the $75,000 Martanza, the richest race for females on Texas Champions Day at Sam Houston.

She has yet to recapture that form in three starts this year, but has just now returned to her old self after sustaining an unusual injury while training last January. "She threw her rider, ran off the track, fell and messed up her elbow," said Robideaux. "We had to get a slither [of a bone chip] taken out of the elbow. We've done a lot of high maintenance on her, and right now she's going as good as you want a horse to go."

Nanie's Dinner showed her intent to run big Saturday when she worked six furlongs in a bullet 1:11.80 on June 20, out seven furlongs in 1:25. "Right now I'd say she's on top of her game," said Robideaux, who has given the mount to Carlos Gonzalez.

o Dr. Lewis, who in his last start was fifth in the Lone Star Park Turf Sprint, gets back to his best surface, the main track, in the featured eighth race Friday night. The six-furlong race is worth $39,000, and has also drawn Littleexpectations, one of three runners in the five-horse field trained by Steve Asmussen. The others are Overdone, coupled with Littleexpectations, and Texas Code, the first mount back for Buck Harris, who was injured April 22.