01/12/2006 1:00AM

Here Tiger tackles softer

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Here Tiger, twice a stakes winner against fellow Louisiana-breds and most recently a solid second against open stakes company, returns to the statebred ranks in Saturday night's $75,000 A Toast to Junius Stakes at Evangeline Downs.

A competitive field of nine 3-year-olds will race 5 1/2 furlongs.

Prior to his runner-up effort in the Sugar Bowl Stakes on New Year's Day at the Fair Grounds meet at Louisiana Downs, Here Tiger made short work of nine rivals in the Stardust Stakes, also at Louisiana Downs, in mid-September. He led every step that day, much as he did in capturing the Southern Beau Stakes during the summer. Trained by Steve Asmussen, Here Tiger has won 3 of 5 starts and has never finished off the board. Carlos Gonzalez, aboard for each of Here Tiger's previous starts, once again has the mount.

Carson Bay will add blinkers for this race. He rebounded with a second-place performance in the Louisiana Futurity on Dec. 31 after being unplaced three weeks earlier in the Louisiana Champions Day Juvenile. Gerard Melancon will make the trip from Louisiana Downs to ride.

The top local performer in the A Toast to Junius is Night Doc. Although not as seasoned as Here Tiger or Carson Bay, Night Doc has won both of his starts here since moving into Ann Watermeier's barn off a freshening late in the fall.

Night Doc most recently defeated open company in impressive fashion. His ability to rally from off the pace could serve him well with an abundance of early speed in front of him. Michael Wright has the mount.