10/30/2003 1:00AM

'Leslie' shows new dimension on dirt


Leslie's Love, who will shoot for her fourth straight win Saturday night in the $40,000 Zydeco at Delta Downs in Vinton, La., is no longer strictly a turf horse.

Leslie's Love began her career on dirt, but last year at 5 began racing on turf on a regular basis and picked up the first two stakes victories of her career. She threw a wrench into the turf-only theory in her last start, however, when she won her first dirt stakes, the $50,000 Victoria, at Louisiana Downs on Oct. 11.

"It was thought she had to have the grass, but apparently she doesn't," said Troy Young, who trains Leslie's Love for owner Donald Foret.

The Zydeco, a five-furlong dirt race for fillies and mares, drew six others, including defending champ Raymond's Dream.

Leslie's Love has won all of her starts for Young since she arrived at his barn from Kentucky this summer. She captured a turf allowance in her first start for the trainer, then was set to start in another one when rains forced her race to the main track. Leslie's Love delivered anyway, and the dominant manner in which she won was one of the reasons she was pointed for the Victoria.

Gerard Melancon, who has ridden Leslie's Love in her last three races, has the mount Saturday.

Raymond's Dream brings an outstanding Delta record into the Zydeco. The race was one of two stakes she won at the track last year, and overall, she is 7 for 10 in Vinton. Steve Bourque, the meet's defending leading rider, has the mount for trainer Chad Hassenpflug.