03/06/2006 12:00AM

Happy Ticket breezes fast before facing Round Pond


HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Happy Ticket was preparing to van out of her Louisiana Downs base shortly after training hours on Monday, headed for Oaklawn Park and a Saturday showdown with Round Pond in the Grade 3, $175,000 Azeri Breeders' Cup.

The 1 1/16-mile race for fillies and mares is one of two important stakes this weekend. The Grade 3, $150,000 Razorback Breeders' Cup Handicap will be held on Sunday. The races are preps, respectively, for the Grade 1, $500,000 Apple Blossom and the Grade 2, $500,000 Oaklawn Handicap, both here on April 8.

Happy Ticket will be traveling about three hours from Bossier City, La., to Oaklawn.

"She'll be there this afternoon sometime," trainer Andrew Leggio Jr. said Monday.

Happy Ticket is scheduled to gallop at Oaklawn on Wednesday. She breezed five furlongs in 1:00.60 on Sunday, the second-fastest work of 33 at the distance at Louisiana Downs that day.

"We were very pleased," said Leggio. "She did that under restraint."

Happy Ticket comes into the Azeri off a 5 1/2-length win in the $100,000 Louisiana Premier Night Distaff at Evangeline Downs on Feb. 18. She is a Grade 1 winner of $842,260, and will be ridden by Robby Albarado.

Stewart Elliott has the mount on Round Pond, the winner of last year's Grade 1 Acorn. She last raced on Feb. 16, winning an optional claiming race at six furlongs for trainer John Servis.

Others considered probable are Pool Land, an undefeated stakes winner for trainer Todd Pletcher; La Reason, a Grade 2 winner for trainer David Vance; and Platinum Ballet, winner of the $125,000 Iowa Distaff for trainer Donnie Von Hemel.

Ballroom Deputy, a Grade 3 winner in Canada, is possible for the Azeri, said her trainer, Josie Carroll. She is also being considered for the $75,000 Goddess at Evangeline Downs on March 24.

Bullet for Rockport Harbor

Rockport Harbor is the one to beat in the Razorback, and his work here Sunday only drove that point home. He went five furlongs in hand in 59.90 seconds, and galloped out six furlongs in 1:13.50. Elliott was aboard for the move, the fastest of 45 at the distance.

Rockport Harbor worked after the renovation break. In his last start, he returned from a nine-month layoff to score a front-running win in the Grade 3, $100,000 Essex Handicap at Oaklawn on Feb. 11.

Among his probable rivals are Greater Good, trained by Bob Holthus, and Thunder Mission, the runner-up in the Essex. Trainer Steve Asmussen will start Real Dandy, whom he said will be ridden by Luis Quinonez. Another who might start in the Razorback is Purim.

With Distinction, a nominee who will not go, is instead being considered for the Oaklawn Handicap, said his trainer, D. Wayne Lukas. Lukas won the Oaklawn last year with Grand Reward.

'Moonlight' to be bred to Mineshaft

More Moonlight was retired following her win in the $50,000 Spring Fever on Saturday. She rallied up the rail for a three-quarter-length win in the race, her second stakes victory this meet at Oaklawn.

"She went out on a high note," said Asmussen, who trained More Moonlight for Vinery Stables.

More Moonlight won five career stakes, with the Letellier Memorial at Fair Grounds among her most impressive wins. In all, More Moonlight won 6 of 15 starts and earned $207,902.

"She ran several good races," said Asmussen. "The race at the Fair Grounds, that was a very dominant victory. The Dixie Belle that she won last year at Oaklawn, that was a dominant race."

More Moonlight is scheduled to be bred to Mineshaft, according to an official with Vinery. She is a 4-year-old daughter of More Than Ready.

Streak reaches nine years

When the 12-year-old gelding Page Two won the eighth race Friday, he kept a unique streak going. He has won at least one race at the Oaklawn meet for nine straight years, according to Russ Ramstad, assistant racing secretary at Oaklawn.

Page Two won his maiden in Hot Springs in March 1998, and on Friday won a $5,000 claiming route race for trainer Stanley Roberts. This will be the last meet Page Two is eligible to race at Oaklawn, because horses over 12 are not permitted to start at the track.

Page Two was bred in Missouri by Tom Pryor. He has won 19 of 113 career starts and $259,846.

Cieli tops Thursday feature

Cieli should be favored Thursday in the featured ninth race, a 1 1/16-mile optional claimer for fillies and mares. In her last start, she closed for third to the older mare Mythic. The race Thursday will be the third start off a layoff for Cieli.

"I think it's a good spot," said Asmussen, who trains Cieli. "It's a little easier race than last time."

Asmussen won two races at Oaklawn on Sunday to move into a tie atop the trainer standings with Cole Norman. He has given the mount on Cieli to Corey Lanerie.

* Elliott was suspended for four days after Coppertone Kid, his mount in the first race Saturday, was disqualified for interference and placed second. He will be out Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and March 15. He can ride in designated races, including stakes this weekend at Oaklawn.

* There is a $12,869 pick-six carryover on Wednesday.