03/08/2009 11:00PM

Friesan Fire goes for sweep from post 9


Led by Friesan Fire, who has won the Lecomte and Risen Star stakes in his last two starts, a field of 10 3-year-olds was entered Monday in the Grade 2, $600,000 Louisiana Derby, to be run Saturday at Fair Grounds in New Orleans.

The Louisiana Derby heads an outstanding 12-race card that features six stakes, including three other Grade 2 stakes - the $500,000 Mervin Muniz Handicap for older turf runners, the $500,000 New Orleans Handicap for older horses on the main track, and the $400,000 Fair Grounds Oaks for 3-year-old fillies.

Friesan Fire drew post 9 in the 1 1/16-mile Louisiana Derby, with only Nowhere to Hide to his outside. The rest of the field, from the rail out, is Free Country, Soul Warrior, Patena, Terrain, Flying Pegasus, Giant Oak, Uno Mas, and Papa Clem. All starters carry 122 pounds.

Friesan Fire drilled a sharp five furlongs in 58.20 seconds Monday at Fair Grounds with his regular rider, Gabriel Saez, aboard. The time was the best of 29 at the distance. Uno Mas went a half-mile in 50.60 seconds. And at Gulfstream Park, Patena was timed by Daily Racing Form working five furlongs in 59.52 seconds with exercise rider Michelle Nevin aboard.

The Louisiana Derby is the ninth race on the card. Immediately preceding it is the Muniz, which attracted 14 runners, including last year's winner, Proudinsky, who landed the outside post going about 1 1/8 miles on turf.

Proudinsky is the co-highweight at 119 pounds along with Soldier's Dancer, a Florida-based horse who comes off a win in the Sunshine Millions Turf at Santa Anita.

Diamond Tycoon, the impressive winner last month of the Fair Grounds Handicap, the prep for the Muniz, injured a tendon last week and "needs a lot of time off," trainer Andrew McKeever said Monday.

Among those in the Muniz are Corrupt, Nownownow, old-timer Brass Hat, and a Sam-Son Farms-owned entry of French Beret and Windward Islands.

The New Orleans Handicap, at 1 1/8 miles on the main track, also drew a full field of 14, led by Honest Man, who completed his preparation with a five-furlong drill in 58.80 seconds Monday at Fair Grounds. Honest Man was assigned top weight of 121 pounds, one more than It's a Bird, the Sunshine Millions Classic winner. My Pal Charlie is marooned in post 14. Others in the race are Good and Lucky, Macho Again, and Slew's Tiznow.

Rachel Alexandra figures to be a heavy favorite against just five rivals in the Fair Grounds Oaks at 1 1/16 miles. She drew post 3.

Also on the card are the $125,000 Duncan Kenner Stakes, at six furlongs for older horses, and the $75,000 Bienville Stakes, at 5 1/2 furlongs on turf for older females. Ikigai and Kodiak Kowboy head a field of eight in the Kenner. Ten were entered in the Bienville, with Classify the highweight at 120 pounds.

- additional reporting by Mike Welsch