09/03/2008 11:00PM

Lee's Spirit favored off performance last time


Lee's Spirit comes out of perhaps the most productive Louisiana-bred stakes race run so far this year, which could make him a slight favorite on Saturday in a competitive A.L. "Red" Erwin at Louisiana Downs.

To be run at about a mile on turf, the race for 3-year-olds bred in Louisiana offers a $150,000 purse to the graduates of eligible sales, and a $50,000 purse for other statebreds. Lee's Spirit is running for the full amount, one start after finishing third behind Star Production and runner-up Ide Like a Double in the $100,000 Louisiana Breeders' Derby on Aug. 2.

Neither of those two is running in the Erwin.

"If both decided to go in here, they'd be hard to outrun," said Bob Schultz, who trains Lee's Spirit for S A S Partners. "Both of those horses are real, real sharp right now."

Star Production is being pointed for the Grade 2, $500,000 Super Derby following his win in the local prep for the race, the $100,000 Prelude Breeders Cup, which came in his start after the Breeders' Derby. Ide Like a Double, who is also under consideration for the Super Derby, followed his runner-up finish in the Breeders' Derby with a strong win against older horses in the $200,000 Evangeline Mile. He earned a career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 102.

Lee's Spirit won a stakes against open company on the grass, the $50,000 Grand Prairie Turf Challenge at a mile at Lone Star Park in April. Schultz said on Thursday that he is pleased with the way Lee's Spirit is coming up to the Erwin - but he was worried about wet weather in the aftermath of Hurricane Gustav.

"The biggest thing that is going to concern me is whether they leave it on the grass or not," Schultz said. "He's a nice colt and runs on the dirt, but he's a lot better horse on the grass."

Lee's Spirit, a statebred stakes winner on dirt, drew post 3. Don Simington has the mount on the gelding, a $5,000 yearling purchase who has since earned $141,600.

His rivals include such well-bred runners as Hallowed Missions and Oro Tributo.

Hallowed Missions, a winner on turf, is out of Hallowed Dreams, who won the first 16 races of her career to equal the modern North American record. Oro Tributo, making his turf debut, is a half-brother to Tortuga Flats, a multiple stakes winner on turf who has earned $473,340.

Also in the Erwin is Snug, the winner of the $125,000 Texas Stallion Stakes at Lone Star in May.