03/24/2006 1:00AM

Ivor's Empire bred to score


HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - There are a number of reasons to like first-time starter on Sunday in the $50,000 Vulcan Stakes for 3-year-old registered Alabama-breds at Oaklawn Park.

For starters, he is bred by Bobby Pruitt.

"It's a strong recommendation," said Larry Robideaux Jr., who trains Ivor's Empire for Mary Anne Pruitt.

Bobby Pruitt has bred some quality Alabama-breds through the years, including Comalagold, who last fall upset top-class turf sprinter Nicole's Dream in the $40,000 Majorette Handicap at Louisiana Downs.

Comalagold is a three-time winner of the Alabama Belle Stakes and overall has won 8 of 29 starts and $204,410.

Pruitt also bred Slow Walkin' John, a past winner of the Kudzu Juvenile for Alabama-breds, and Nell's Niner, a full sibling to Ivor's Empire who is a past winner of the Vulcan.

All of the aforementioned Pruitt-breds are by Royal Empire, a son of Forty Niner who is also the sire of Ivor's Empire. The colt shows a nice series of works for his debut, and for the race will get the services of Robby Albarado for the Vulcan. Ivor's Empire drew gate 4.

"He's a nice-looking colt, and he's trained well for me," said Robideaux. "He looks like he'll be a nice colt."

In all, there are seven horses in the Vulcan, and could go off favored, thanks to his 2 for 2 record. He won his maiden at Evangeline Downs on Dec. 4, then came back one start later and won the $50,000 Kudzu at Evangeline on Dec. 16.

Trainer Darrell Jackson has given the mount to leading rider Luis Quinonez. Jackson will also start the maiden filly Miss Sasquash.

Another horse of interest in the field is , winner of a maiden special weight race at Tampa Bay Downs in his last start Feb. 23. John McKee has the mount for trainer Bobby Barnett.

Trainer Skip Drinkard has three starters in the race, with likely to get the most betting support. He won a $15,000 maiden claimer last out at Turfway Park and earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 64, the highest last-race number in the field Sunday.

Oaklawn is hosting the Vulcan this year because Hurricane Katrina disrupted the meet at the race's normal site, Fair Grounds in New Orleans.