06/08/2006 12:00AM

Here Tiger and 'Chief' must avoid speed duel


Here Tiger and Chief What It Is are quick colts who have proven to be difficult to run down when on the lead. Saturday, the two will meet for the first time in the $50,000 Airline, a six-furlong race for 3-year-olds at Louisiana Downs in Bossier City, La.

A competitive field of six went in the race, which will go as the sixth. Other entrants include Premier Dance, a five-time stakes winner making his first start since April, and Muni High Yield, whose ability to stalk could serve him well if a duel were to develop.

Here Tiger has used front-running tactics to win two stakes, the Southern Beau and the Stardust, both at Louisiana Downs. He comes into the Airline off a second-place finish to multiple stakes winner Nob Hill Deelite in the $50,000 Arcadia on May 21. Here Tiger broke slowly from the rail in that race, which was his first start since February.

"He kind of hopped away from there the other day," said Steve Asmussen, who trains Here Tiger for Heiligbrodt Racing Stable. "He didn't break as good as he should have. But he's got some pace."

Chief What It Is also encountered trouble at the start in his last race. He broke in the air and finished eighth in the $109,000 Matt Winn at Churchill Downs on May 20. Before that race, he was a wire-to-wire winner of a second-level allowance at Keeneland. Chief What It Is has also scored two front-running wins at Evangeline Downs.

In one of those races, an optional claimer at six furlongs, he set fractions of 21.20 seconds for the opening quarter and 43.80 for a half-mile before winning off by 10 lengths in a strong 1:09.60. A bullet half-mile work in 46.40 on June 3 suggests Chief What It Is remains sharp for trainer Lori Hendrickson. She has given the mount to Jose Riquelme.

Chief What It Is seeks his first stakes win. Here Tiger is an old hand in stakes competition, and in six starts over the local strip has three wins, two seconds, and a third.

"His best races have come at Louisiana Downs," said Asmussen, who has given the mount to Lonnie Meche.

Muni High Yield is shooting for his fourth straight win, and comes into the Airline off a first-level allowance score. Trainer Cody Autrey has given the mount to Donnie Meche.

Gerard Melancon will ride the Autrey-trained Premier Dance, who won the $50,000 Minstrel last August in his lone Louisiana Downs start.