01/21/2003 12:00AM

Lecomte could draw a crowd


NEW ORLEANS - Trainer Tom Amoss confirmed graded stakes winner Lone Star Sky as a starter in the Lecomte Stakes, but the horse's participation should come as no surprise. Just about everybody else is running, too.

As many as 12 horses could wind up in Saturday's $100,000 Lecomte. The one-mile race, a Grade 3 for the first time this year, is Fair Grounds's first 3-year-old stakes of the season, followed by the Risen Star and the Louisiana Derby. The Grade 2, $750,000 Louisiana Derby carries a $1 million bonus if its winner also wins the Kentucky Derby.

As usual the Lecomte will sift through a large field of hopefuls to isolate horses who can take the next step into the Grade 3 Risen Star three weeks from now. Based on his 2-year-old campaign, in which he won a Grade 3 sprint and the ungraded Cradle Stakes around two turns, Lone Star Sky has a good chance of making the cut. Still, this will be Lone Star Sky's first start since a poor race in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, and the field he faces, while not exceptional, is solid.

It will include Most Feared, also unplaced in the Breeders' Cup, but winner of the Grade 3 Arlington-Washington Futurity last fall. Leo's Last Hurrahy, who capped off his 2-year-old season by winning he Houston Texan Juvenile, also will run, along with Call Me Lefty, Catalissa, Crowned King, Gentlemen J J, Rapid Proof, Saintly Look, Winning Fans, and Zydeco Affair. Defrere's Vixen, Mr. Decatur, Oak Hill, and Lots of Sizzle are possible.

Lady Tak tries two turns

Sunday's stakes is the $100,000 Tiffany Lass, the 3-year-old filly counterpart to the Lecomte. The field for the Tiffany Lass is smaller but perhaps stronger than the Lecomte's.

Tuesday, trainer David Vance said he would enter My Trusty Cat in the Tiffany Lass after the filly had worked a half-mile to his satisfaction at Oaklawn Park, bringing the number of likely starters to eight.

The undefeated Lady Tak will be favored in the one-mile Tiffany Lass, and if she can carry the brilliance she has shown sprinting to two turns, she will be difficult to beat. But that is not a foregone conclusion, and if Lady Tak tires there will be talented horses coming at her.

Allspice couldn't keep up with Lady Tak in the six-furlong Thelma Stakes, but is better suited to route races. Belle of Perrintown won the Pocohontas at Churchill last fall, Perfect Wave is unbeaten in two starts, and Buffalo Jump is a Canadian stakes winner.

As for My Trusty Cat, winner of the $250,000 Delta Princess in her last start, she will be entered Thursday but isn't certain to ship in for the race. "I'll take a look at the post positions and the race and make up my mind real quick after that," Vance said.

Cashmere Miss and Cheryl's Myth also are expected to enter. Lady Mallory is possible.

Badgett winning with everything

Trainer Bill Badgett didn't win a race here Monday, but that's probably just because he didn't have any starters. Badgett has been the hottest trainer at Fair Grounds, winning 7 of 12 races since Jan. 9. The streak has moved him into fourth place in the trainer standings with a record of 40-9-9-3. Already, Badgett has bettered the season he had here last year, when he won five races with 31 starters.

Badgett said he has far more horses here this year than last, 30 compared with 10, and the quality of his stock has risen dramatically. He has sent out several impressive maiden winners, including a pair of 3-year-old grass horses last week, the filly Winter's Quest and the colt Clear Terms.

"Everything kind of fell into place for me," Badgett said Monday. "The condition book was right, and the horses were doing good."

Handpainted getting into shape

Handpainted, who won 3 of 4 starts in Canada last year as a 2-year-old, had her first work of the year on Monday, breezing a half-mile in 48.60 seconds. An A.P. Indy filly owned by John and Glen Sikura and trained by Josie Carroll, Handpainted won her first three starts but finished second in the Grade 2 Mazarine Breeders' Cup. Handpainted seriously cut herself at the start of the Mazarine, an injury that sidelined her late last year.

Monday, with jockey Robby Albarado up, Handpainted turned in a surprisingly strong breeze, which left her trainer pleased. Her first three furlongs went in a moderate time, but Handpainted ran her last furlong in less than 12 seconds and galloped out vigorously.

Carroll isn't sure when Handpainted will return to the races, but has the Grade 2 Fair Grounds Oaks on March 2 as a goal.