11/10/2004 12:00AM

Happy Ticket formidable


They could not make a dent in Happy Ticket at Louisiana Downs, where she launched her career in early June and won five straight races, barely taking a deep breath. Happy Ticket had an easy three-furlong blowout Wednesday at Fair Grounds, and as long as the filly ate up her supper Wednesday night, the Happy Ticket show is traveling to Delta Downs on Friday for the $75,000 Magnolia Stakes.

Happy Ticket is one of eight fillies and mares entered in the Magnolia, a seven-furlong race around two turns. Realistically, it is a one-horse show, barring a misstep from the odds-on favorite.

"I'm a little concerned about her running under the lights, but she's a real laid-back filly, and I think she'll be all right," said Andy Leggio, who trains Happy Ticket.

So far, Happy Ticket has been so much more than all right. A Louisiana-bred by Anet, she faced open company in her career debut and made her 3-5 odds look like value, winning by almost 10 lengths. Happy Ticket has three wins going short, a victory in a two-turn turf race, and a seven-length score in her lone try at two turns on dirt, the $82,000 Louisiana Breeders' Oaks on Oct. 23.

"I think she might be best going long on dirt, but that's just a wild guess," Leggio said. "She's done everything I've asked her to do - with ease."

Leggio develops good horses most every season. There is a reason for that. With Happy Ticket, the key was patience, and Leggio waited and waited for the filly to come around.

"I had her as a 2-year-old, and she had one problem after another," he said. "She had sore shins, sore feet, never anything major, but it would be two months here, another two months there. It took me 15 months to get her to the races."

But even before she made it, Leggio - and anyone else who bothered to look - could see Happy Ticket might be special.

"She worked a couple times in 59 [seconds], and I knew she was pretty awesome," said Leggio.

If Happy Ticket loses, Fuse It might be the horse to upset her. Fuse It is a fine mare in her own right, with 11 career victories and nearly a half-million dollars in career earnings. She has been first or second eight times in 11 Delta starts, though seven furlongs around two turns is pushing Fuse It's distance limitations.

* Co-featured on the Friday card is the $50,000 Creme de la Creme, for 2-year-old Louisiana-bred fillies at five furlongs. The race drew a field of seven, with Indigo Girl and Forty Babes perhaps the fastest of them.