01/28/2003 12:00AM

Lecomte winner Saintly Look has options


NEW ORLEANS - Two days after Saintly Look's impressive-looking win in the $100,000 Lecomte Stakes here, trainer Dallas Stewart remained uncertain what trajectory Saintly Look's late winter campaign will follow. The two local options for Saintly Look are the $150,000 Risen Star on Feb. 16 or the $750,000 Louisiana Derby on March 9, and Stewart's answer for which race he will choose was - one or the other.

"I hate to be so vague about it, but that's where we're at right now," Stewart said Monday. "He came out of it great, but it's too early to tell. We'll have to wait and see how he does. It'll either be the Risen Star or the Louisiana Derby."

Saintly Look, a Saint Ballado colt owned by William Carl, had won the six-furlong Sugar Bowl here in his start before the Lecomte, but had never raced around two turns. Sunday, he had to break from post 11 with a short run to the first turn, but under Shane Sellers, Saintly Look left the gates sharply, crossing over the field to gain a good position before even reaching the turn. Saintly Look raced outside of Call Me Lefty for about six furlongs before leaving his pace rival behind and going on to a 2 3/4-length win.

Sellers was pleased with the way Saintly Look relaxed in his first route race, and said the colt finished well. "He kicked away from them pretty good, I thought," Sellers said.

Saintly Look's time of 1:37.62 came close to setting a stakes record in the one-mile Lecomte, which ends at what is normally the sixteenth pole, although for many years it was contested at a mile and 40 yards. In Saturday's fifth race, Salty Farma, an allowance-class mare who has had more success on turf than dirt, ran a mile in 1:36.64. Fair Grounds's track surface Saturday appeared to cater to speed horses like Saintly Look.

Even the Score sharp in comeback

Stewart, whose barn has been on a roll lately, had another winner Sunday when Even the Score returned from a six-month layoff to beat turf allowance horses in the seventh race. Even the Score hadn't started since he lost his form over the summer, but he appears ready to pick up where he left off at Fair Grounds last season. In March, he finished third to Sarafan and Beat Hollow in the Grade 2 Explosive Bid Handicap.

Sunday, Even the Score got a perfect trip under Sellers, who saved ground and steered Even the Score off the rail in midstretch, giving him plenty of time to wear down the pace-setting Astrologist. Even the Score kicked clear when he belatedly changed leads in deep stretch.

"I thought he ran well," Stewart said. "He was tired, and he definitely needed the race. I don't know where he'll run yet, but we'll probably look for a stakes. There's no rush. We're not going to get overanxious with him."

The next Fair Grounds turf stakes Even the Score could make is the Mardi Gras Handicap on March 4.

Mystery Giver to defend BC title

In choosing the allowance, Stewart bypassed a start Saturday in the $150,000 Fair Grounds Breeders' Cup, a race in which Even the Score finished second last year. But last season's winner, Mystery Giver, has been working strongly on dirt at Fair Grounds and is ready to defend his title.

Mystery Giver, who worked a half-mile in 48.60 seconds here Sunday, last raced in the Great State Challenge Turf, finishing a good second.

There are eight other probable starters for the Fair Grounds BC, including Royal Spy, who won the Colonel E.R. Bradley here in his last start. Trainer Jim Bond told Fair Grounds racing officials he is considering the race for Baptize, pending a work early this week.

Monday, trainer Danny Peitz said he's leaning against running Green Fee, who won the Grade 2 Kelso last fall and was fifth in the Breeders' Cup Mile. Green Fee was favored in the Bradley, but after prompting a sluggish pace he flattened out and finished fifth. Peitz hasn't ruled out a start this weekend, but said he's more likely to send Green Fee to Sam Houston for the $200,000 Connally Breeders' Cup two weekends from now.

"I hate to ship, but he's giving me signs he doesn't care for this course," Peitz said. "I might want to give him a chance over a different turf course."

Sellers aboard for Bonapaw's work

The crack sprinter Bonapaw usually works as fast as most horses race, and Monday was no exception. Bonapaw breezed six furlongs here in 1:12.40, more than two seconds quicker than the next fastest of seven works at the distance.

"He did it under wraps," said Norman Miller, who trains Bonapaw for Jimmy and Dennis Richard. "He was a handful. He wanted to go."

The breeze was Bonapaw's major work for the Feb. 9 Whirlaway Handicap, in which he will try to stretch his sprint speed out to 1 1/16 miles. Miller said Shane Sellers breezed Bonapaw on Monday, and Sellers is likely to ride the gelding in the Whirlaway. The jockey change would be significant, since Gerard Melancon has ridden Bonapaw in 21 of his last 22 starts, dating back to November 2000.

Bonapaw finished last in the Colonel Power Handicap here Jan. 12, but came up short after dueling on a fast early pace. When he raced in the Colonel Power, Bonapaw had been back in training for less than two weeks - with no timed workouts - after getting a month of farm rest following a long 2002 campaign.

Most of Bonapaw's best efforts have come in sprints, but last summer he won the one-mile Hanshin Cup around one turn at Arlington, and early in his career raced with some success around two turns.

* Fair Grounds will move its inner turf rail back to lane 1 on Wednesday, opening up a section of grass that's been given a chance to rejuvenate the last several weeks. Turf races were capped at nine starters while the inner rail was positioned in lane 3, but now can have as many as 14 horses in stakes races.