07/17/2003 11:00PM

'Lac' is back in state ranks


BOSSIER CITY, La. - Lac Laronge, stakes-placed against open company in the Airline Stakes here two weeks ago, returns to the ranks of Louisiana-breds Sunday afternoon in the Arcadia Stakes. The $50,000 headliner for 3-year-olds will be run at six furlongs.

Owned by Valene Farms and trained by Troy Young, Lac Laronge has not faced statebreds since a third-place finish in the $100,000 Gentilly Handicap at Fair Grounds in March. After a freshening, Lac Laronge, a son of Nelson, went unplaced in a midlevel allowance over the Lone Star turf before winning a sprint on the main track in his next race. Most recently, Lac Laronge carved out opening fractions of 21.89 on 44.52 seconds in the July 5 Airline before being overtaken in the stretch by the undefeated Watchem Smokey, the heavy favorite.

Although Lac Laronge will once again be pushed in the early going Sunday, his recent class edge makes him the one to beat. Defending riding champ Gerard Melancon - already in a heated battle with 2001's leading rider, Kirk LeBlanc, for the top spot in this season's standings - has the return call at 122 pounds.

Mike 'n Doc, the winner of the Au Revoir Stakes at Delta Downs in March, appears to be Lac Laronge's main rival. A gelding by Toolighttoquit, Mike 'n Doc is coming off a fifth in the Inaugural Handicap at Evangeline Downs over a sloppy strip.

Trained by Ann Watermeier, Mike 'n Doc has been training forwardly for his local debut, and his stalk-and-pounce running style should serve him well in a race with ample pace. He will be ridden by Chandra Rennie and will also carry 122 pounds.

Zina Cause, a speedy son of Cause for Pause, led every step of the way in capturing the Inaugural in his most recent start. In the Arcadia, he will try to run his career mark to four wins in only five starts. The only blemish on Zina Cause's record is a fifth-place finish to Mike 'n Doc in the Au Revoir.

Trainer Keith Bourgeois has put a couple of bullet works into Zina Cause, who should make things interesting in the early going. Regular rider Guy Smith will be in the irons.