12/30/2005 1:00AM

Here Tiger eyes stakes hat trick


BOSSIER CITY, La. - When you think Sugar Bowl Stakes at Fair Grounds, the image is of some very fast 2-year-olds battling it out on New Years Eve. This year's edition will still feature plenty of speed, but this time the combatants will be making their first starts as 3-year-olds.

The race has been moved to Sunday, New Year's Day, to accommodate a stakes schedule revamped in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and the meet being moved here to Louisiana Downs.

Morning-line favorite goes after his third consecutive stakes win in the Sugar Bowl. The Louisiana-bred Here Tiger moves into open company for the first time since a third-place finish in his debut in maiden special weight company last May. Trained by Steve Asmussen, Here Tiger has made short work of his fellow Louisiana-breds of late, winning both the Southern Beau and Stardust stakes by better than three lengths. Regular rider Carlos Gonzalez will ride Here Tiger in a field of eight.

With ample pace in the race, Kingsfield could be in position to uncork another decisive late run, as he did in winning the Prairie Meadows Freshmen Stakes in his most recent start. Trained by Thad Keller, Kingsfield has repeatedly produced late rallies, and has finished worse than second only once in his five-race career. His lone out-of-the-exacta finish came when he unseated his rider soon after the start in his second career start. Terry Thompson picks up the mount.

comes into the Sugar Bowl off a powerful 6 1/2-length win in an entry-level allowance at Keeneland. Trainer Bob Holthus has tried Rocket Beauty in stakes company twice before without success, but Rocket Beauty is a better horse now than he was back then. John McKee, aboard for Rocket Beauty's last victory, has the return call from post 1.

Another Asmussen-trained runner, , also merits respect, as he, too, appears to have made progress lately. Catonight, who will not be coupled in the betting with Here Tiger, comes off a victory in a nonwinners-of-two allowance race at Sunland and has leading rider Roman Chapa aboard.

Completing the field are Minstrel Runner, second in the Groovy Stakes in his last start; Dancehall Fever, also second in stakes company most recently; the speedy Prayforsnow; and Grand Escape, a recent Churchill Downs maiden winner.