05/24/2006 12:00AM

Happy Ticket looking ready

Jeff Coady / Coady Photography
Happy Ticket got a brief freshening after her effort in the Apple Blossom.

BOSSIER CITY, La. - Happy Ticket worked six furlongs in 1:11.40 last Saturday at Louisiana Downs as she continues to train strongly for the Grade 2, $300,000 Fleur de Lis Handicap at Churchill Downs on June 17.

The race will be Happy Ticket's first start since finishing second by a neck to Spun Sugar in the Grade 1, $500,000 Apple Blossom at Oaklawn Park on April 8. Before that race, she was second by a neck to Round Pond in the Grade 3, $175,000 Azeri on March 11.

"Those two races, she ran her heart out," said Andrew Leggio Jr., who trains Happy Ticket for Stewart Madison. "We figured she needed a little rest. We gave her 10 days of eating grass, having fun."

Happy Ticket's work Saturday was her second since the Apple Blossom. She was a dappled picture of health when she came onto the track at about 9 a.m. under jockey Lonnie Meche. Happy Ticket turned in the quickest move of seven at the distance, and came home her final quarter in 23.59 seconds, according to clockers at Louisiana Downs.

"It was a pretty strong work, without asking her to run," Leggio said. "She just did it on her own. She's doing great. She can't train any better."

Happy Ticket returned to the track on Tuesday. She could work again next Wednesday, May 31, or on Thursday, June 1, said Leggio.

The year-end goal is the Breeders' Cup Distaff. Madison and Leggio are discussing the path to take to get her there, and beyond the Fleur de Lis will look at options in California and New York.

Madison said races of interest include the Grade 1, $250,000 Go for Wand at Saratoga on July 30 and the Grade 2, $300,000 Clement L. Hirsch at Del Mar on Aug. 6.

"That's just real tentative," said Madison.

Madison bred Happy Ticket, a daughter of Anet, a Grade 2 winner and grandson of Icecapade. Her dam is Love and Happiness, who is a daughter of Septieme Ciel.

"The cross between Icecapade and Septieme Ciel is good, and I liked Anet," said Madison. "He was a very versatile racehorse."

Madison raced Love and Happiness, and was advised to keep her as a broodmare because of the heart she showed on the track. She won 3 races and finished second in 3 others in 8 career starts. Happy Ticket has her dam's determination, and is a winner of 11 of 16 starts and $977,260.

"She gives you everything she's got," said Madison.

Happy Ticket's biggest win came in last year's Grade 1 Ballerina at Saratoga.

Meche reinstated, wins first day back

Lonnie Meche, who was suspended six months for an amphetamine positive last November in Texas, has been reinstated and resumed his riding career Saturday at Louisiana Downs, winning with his fifth mount on the card. On the same program, his brothers, Donnie Meche and apprentice Cody Meche, also won races. It is the first time all three have ridden at the same track at the same time. Lonnie Meche is a two-time title winner at Louisiana Downs.

"I'm glad to be back up," said Lonnie Meche, 31. "I'd been getting on a bunch of horses on the farm, so I stayed pretty much fit."

Meche won the ninth on Saturday with Tricky Storm ($6.80). One race later, he finished second on 36-1 shot Haines Junction in the 10th race. Cody Meche won that race aboard My Bakari ($11.60). Donnie Meche won the fifth race on the card with Aly's Vow ($7.40).

Ronald Ardoin, a six-time title winner at Louisiana Downs, is Lonnie Meche's agent. It is the first time Ardoin has worked as an agent, and he is also representing former jockey Curt Bourque's son, David, who is an apprentice.

"Lonnie's been asking me to take his book, and he finally convinced me to do it," said Ardoin.

Meches vie in feature

The Meche brothers are all named on contenders in the featured 10th race Friday at Louisiana Downs. Donnie Meche will be aboard top contender Total Command, who returns to dirt for the first-level allowance sprint. In his last start, Total Command was fourth to Proven Cure in an overnight turf stakes at Lone Star Park.

Lonnie Meche will ride Blue Groom, who in his last start won his maiden at Keeneland on April 8. Cody Meche has the mount on Dixie Tree, who with 2 wins in 4 career starts is one of the more accomplished runners in the field Friday.

* This week, Louisiana Downs plans to install a 15-foot projection screen to show its live races near the main entrance to both the casino and the track, said Mark Midland, vice president of racing operations. "You'll be able to watch the race from 200 feet away," said Midland.