11/01/2008 12:00AM

Juvenile stakes winners target big things

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. - A pair of locally entrenched trainers were teased with visions of far greater feats six months hence when Sara Louise and Capt. Candyman Can powered to impressive Grade 3 victories Saturday on the first Stars of Tomorrow program of the Churchill Downs fall meet.

Sara Louise rallied to a 3 3/4-length triumph in the $110,400 Pocahontas Stakes about 30 minutes before Capt. Candyman Can controlled the $111,100 Iroquois Stakes in prevailing by three lengths. Both one-mile races serve as immediate preps for the Nov. 29 Golden Rod and Kentucky Jockey Club, but looking farther down the road, it was difficult for their trainers not to think about races here next spring: the Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby.

Sara Louise "is about as good a filly as I've ever had," trainer Dale Romans said.

Trainer Ian Wilkes, asked whether Capt. Candyman Can should be put on a watch list for the 135th Kentucky Derby next May, said to laughs with typical dryness: "Go ahead."

Sara Louise, ridden by Robby Albarado, settled nicely behind what developed into a crowded pace in the Pocahontas. Swinging widest of all for the drive, she swept past the opposition with surprising quickness and was the obvious winner passing the furlong grounds.

A Malibu Moon filly owned by Eldon Farm Equine, Sara Louise returned $9.80 after finishing in 1:34.57 over a fast track. Rachel Alexandra, the 2-1 favorite, finished second, another 2 3/4 lengths before Selective in a field of seven.

In the Iroquois, Capt. Candyman Can raced Casey's on Call into defeat, then turned back a sustained bid from the eventual runner-up, Monty's Best, when finishing a mile in 1:35. Julien Leparoux, who rode three other winners on the day, was aboard Capt. Candyman Can, a Candy Ride gelding owned by Joseph Rauch and David Zell. The winner returned $4.80 as the favorite in a field of eight colts and geldings.

Star of David finished a length behind Monty's Best in third, while Brave Victory, the 2-1 second choice, was not a serious factor when laboring home fifth.

Capt. Candyman Can, making his third career start, was returning as the beaten favorite in the Arlington-Washington Futurity. He was treated with the diuretic Lasix for the first time Saturday.

Both Sara Louise and Capt. Candyman Can probably will be pointed to their designated end-of-meet stakes before wintering in Florida, Romans and Wilkes said.

Besides the two stakes, three entry-level allowances and six maiden special weight events, all of them restricted to 2-year-olds, filled out an 11-race card. In those allowances:

* Beer Pong ($18.80), a Florida-bred colt purchased privately this summer by Make a Hole Racing and trainer Tom Amoss, edged clear after getting an excellent trip under Leparoux and outfinishing the two favorites, Phosphorescent and Map of the World. Beer Pong completed seven furlongs in 1:22.59.

* Four Gifts ($21.60) got a crafty inside trip under Shaun Bridgmohan when gliding away from seven other fillies in finishing seven furlongs in 1:22.63. Steve Asmussen trains Four Gifts for the Heiligbrodt Racing Stable.

* Beethoven ($7.20), with Leparoux aboard, avenged a recent narrow loss at Keeneland by wearing down Stormalory and longshot Crown the Chief in finishing 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.47. John Ward trains the Sky Mesa colt for John Oxley.

Among the maiden winners, two were particularly impressive: Striking Dancer ($3.80), a Smart Strike filly who won a 1 1/16-mile turf race by 5 3/4 lengths under Albarado, and Auspicious ($13.20), a first-timing Indian Charlie filly who ran six furlongs in a swift 1:09.76 under Bridgmohan.

This is the fourth year for the Stars of Tomorrow concept at Churchill. A second Stars of Tomorrow card, anchored by the Golden Rod and Kentucky Jockey Club, is scheduled for Nov. 29, closing day of the 26-day meet.