08/30/2002 12:00AM

Just Scarlet settling into a stakes winner


Just Scarlet, who has become a better horse since learning to settle off the pace, is after her second straight stakes win Sunday in the $50,000 Lyrique Handicap at Louisiana Downs in Bossier City, La.

The 1 1/16-mile turf race for 3-year-old fillies drew seven others, including Sheza a Nasty Lady, who was a troubled third to Just Scarlet last out in the $50,000 Chapel Belle, and the Cole Norman-trained trio of Fresita, Bonus Bid, and Chosen.

Just Scarlet pulled an upset in the Chapel Belle last out when she rallied from far back to nip pacesetter Distinctive Code at the wire. The win was a meaningful one for trainer Cliff Haydel on a couple of levels. In addition to being the richest stakes victory of Haydel's career, the Chapel Belle represented progress for Just Scarlet.

"When she started off her career, we thought she was a little speed freak," said Haydel, who trains Just Scarlet for his wife, Lisa. "We've tried to teach her to relax, and take it easy. She's kind of learned to do that in her last few races, and that seems to be the key to her."

Russell Woolsey, who was aboard Just Scarlet in the Chapel Belle, has the return call in the Lyrique.

Gerard Melancon will ride Sheza Nasty Lady, who won back-to-back allowance races before her third-place finish last out in the Chapel Belle. She is a wire-to-wire threat for trainer Troy Young.

Others to consider include Fresita, who gets back to turf after racing on dirt in her last start. In her previous turf race, she finished second to older rivals in a conditioned allowance at Louisiana Downs. She will make her stakes debut in the Lyrique, and she is bred to make an impact as a daughter of Grade 1 winner Quest for Fame and Fresa, a turf stakes winner of $427,647.

Fresita, to be ridden by Guy Smith, is one of three uncoupled entries from the barn of leading trainer Norman.