08/21/2006 11:00PM

Happy Ticket headed to Kentucky

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BOSSIER CITY, La. - Happy Ticket wondered what was going on. She was alert and ready to race as she occupied the first stall in the paddock prior to the third race last Saturday at Louisiana Downs.

But the race was for Quarter Horses.

Happy Ticket was in the paddock to make a personal appearance. She is the second-richest Louisiana-bred of all-time, and was honored before the eight Thoroughbred stakes on the Louisiana Downs Champions Day card.

As a Grade 1 winner of $1.2 million, she is just $33,215 shy of surpassing Louisiana-bred leader Scott's Scoundrel.

The milestone could come in her next start. Happy Ticket's owner, Stewart Madison, and her trainer, Andrew Leggio, are pointing her for the Grade 1, $500,000 Spinster at Keeneland on Oct 8, provided she handles the new Polytrack surface at the Lexington, Ky., track.

"Our plans are to go to Keeneland, to go there maybe 10 days to two weeks prior to the race and work on that Polytrack that they have over there," said Leggio.

If Happy Ticket handles the new surface, she will run in the Spinster, then remain in Kentucky for the Breeders' Cup Distaff at Churchill Downs on Nov. 4. If she does not handle the Polytrack in her work, she will ship from Kentucky to New York for the Grade 1, $600,000 Beldame at Belmont Park on Oct. 7.

Julien Leparoux has the mount on Happy Ticket in either race, said Madison. He rode her to victory in the Grade 2, $300,000 Fleur de Lis at Churchill Downs in June, and was also aboard for her last start Aug. 6, when she finished second in the Grade 2, $300,000 Clement L. Hirsch at Del Mar.

Costa Rising eyes stakes at Churchill

Costa Rising, who picked up his sixth straight win Saturday in the $100,000 Louisiana Breeders' Derby, came out of his race "jumping and playing," and will run back at Louisiana Downs in one of two stakes next month, said his owner, Charles Castille Jr.

The $75,000 Donnie Wilhite Memorial for 3-year-olds on turf is the most likely spot, but Castille said there is a "remote chance" the colt will run in the Grade 2, $500,000 Super Derby. Both races are Sept. 23.

Costa Rising is a multiple stakes winner on dirt and turf, but might be better on the grass, said Castille. With that in mind, the owner has set a long-term goal of the $150,000 Commonwealth Turf for 3-year-olds at Churchill on Nov. 11.

"I'm going to try and keep him on the grass as much as I can," said Castille.

Costa Rising is based at Evangeline Downs with trainer Joseph Boxie.

Meet-best handle on Saturday

Handle on the 13 stakes run here Saturday was a meet-best $3,119,029. Of that amount, $2,679,011 was bet off-site, while another $440,018 was wagered on the card at Louisiana Downs.

Last year, handle on the same statebred stakes program was $1.6 million, when it was held in September. Officials moved this year's running to August to back it away from the Super Derby, said Mark Midland, the track's vice president of racing operations. He also said the final three Thoroughbred races Saturday were simulcast to California.

Shons Secret meets Smokey Diplomacy

Shons Secret will have to run down Smokey Diplomacy to win the featured sixth race on Thursday, an optional claimer for fillies and mares at about a mile on turf. She will be one of the top choices in the race, and is a sentimental favorite for many, too. Shons Secret lost her right eye as a yearling, and has gone on to become a stakes winner.

"She's a special horse, what she overcame to be competitive," said Ralph Irwin, who trains Shons Secret. "She puts all her faith in her groom and her rider. She's just so special to us."

Shons Secret races for Noteboom Farm.

* Apprentice Alonso Quinonez will launch his riding career in the first race Thursday, against his older brother, jockey Luis Quinonez. Alonso Quinonez has one other brother who is a jockey, Belen Quinonez.