05/26/2006 11:00PM

Hard to see who's best in Barksdale


There is little separating the field in the $50,000 Barksdale Handicap on Monday, with four of the seven starters having won stakes over the turf course at Louisiana Downs in Bossier City, La.

Silver Haze and Middleweight are in that group, and they will start as the 119-pound highweights in the Barksdale, to be run at one mile on turf. Dreamsandvisions and Northern Scene are also stakes winners over the local turf. The field is rounded out by stakes winners Witt Ante and Prince T., and the stakes-placed Commander Buck.

Silver Haze has won 3 of 4 starts over the Louisiana Downs turf, among his wins are the $50,000 Excalibur at one mile last May and the $50,000 Bossier City Handicap in June. He shows a strong series of works for the Barksdale, which will be his first start since he won the off-the-turf Woodchopper during the Fair Grounds meet last November.

"The freshening up seemed to help him a whole lot," said Steve Wren, who trains Silver Haze for Kaaren Biggs.

Silver Haze is a closer, and should get an honest pace with the presence of front-runners Prince T., Commander Buck, and Northern Scene.

"I think there'll be enough speed in there," said Wren, who has given the mount to E.J. Perrodin.

Dreamsandvisions, winner of the $50,000 Donnie Wilhite at one mile on grass last September at Louisiana Downs, is returning to turf. He last raced on May 5, finishing sixth in the Grade 2 Churchill Downs Handicap.

"We thought the speed might come back and they didn't," said Steven Duke, who trains Dreamsandvisions. "We closed okay. He ran the fastest he'd ever run. A 1:21 seven-eighths is pretty quick."

Dreamsandvisions will break from post 3 under Donnie Meche.

"We'll probably sit back a little bit and send him at the quarter pole," said Duke. "We won't sit that far back. He's pretty versatile. He runs wherever you want him to run, really."

Witt Ante is a turf allowance winner at Louisiana Downs, and last out was beaten just 1 3/4 lengths when fifth in the $50,000 Franks Memorial on turf at Louisiana Downs. He will break from post 6 under Tracy Hebert.

"With him, he'll come from behind as well as he'll go on the lead," said Larry Robideaux Jr., who trains Witt Ante. "He's a little versatile, you know."

The up-and-coming runner Commander Buck was second last out in the $75,000 John Henry at Evangeline Downs for trainer Tom Howard. Middleweight won the $100,000 Maxxam Gold Cup at Sam Houston in January and is moving back to turf for trainer Al Stall Jr.