01/04/2008 1:00AM

Local prospects lining up for Lecomte

Email

NEW ORLEANS - With the turn of the calendar in New Orleans, eyes turn toward Jan. 12, when six $100,00 stakes races, highlighted by the Grade 3 Lecomte, will be run at Fair Grounds.

The Lecomte, at one mile on dirt, looks to be the race in which the locals sort out who will go forward in the 3-year-old series, and Fair Grounds-based trainers are sending forward their best prospects.

As of Friday, the Lecomte had seven probable starters, with more expected when the field is finalized on Monday.

Star Guitar comes out of Louisiana-bred company and will be going two turns for the first time. He has done everything asked of him, winning the Louisiana Champions Day Juvenile on Dec. 8 in his last outing.

"We're hoping he'll fit in," said trainer Al Stall. "We're asking him to do a lot at once; first time at two turns, first time in a graded stakes. There are more questions than answers about him."

Mad Flatter is likely to run, with trainer Jeff Thornbury working to have him back 16 days after his last race, a half-length win in a first-level allowance at 1 1/16 miles. His hand was forced when the prep race in which Mad Flatter was originally scheduled to run was canceled because of thunderstorms.

"The best laid plans of mice and men," said Thornbury, referring to the rainout. "There are always worries when you're bringing him back that close, but that last race wasn't that tough on him."

The Darp is a probable starter out of Ronnie Werner's barn, having won a one-mile maiden special weight race by 9 1/4 lengths in his third start on Dec. 14. The Darp worked Friday morning, going five furlongs in 1:03.80.

"If he comes out of the work good, then he'll go," said Werner.

The likely favorite looks to be Blackberry Road, who finished second in the Kentucky Jockey Club and has been training steadily here for trainer David Carroll.

The others listed as probable are Texas Fever, Macho Again, and He's Eze.

The Lecomte will serve as an indicator for trainers hoping to continue on the Kentucky Derby trail, with the local series set up to progress to the Risen Star on Feb. 9 and culminate with the March 8 Louisiana Derby. Both the Risen Star and the Louisiana Derby will draw Kentucky Derby hopefuls from around the country, limiting the possibilities for local talent.

Euroears pointing to Gaudin

The F.W. Gaudin Memorial Stakes is the sprint stakes on Saturday's card, and looks to be coming up as a short field.

The six-furlong race features the return of Euroears.

Euroears, trained by Bret Calhoun, is 3 for 3, having won last time out in a second-level allowance on the turf here.

"He's done everything asked of him, but lacks seasoning," said Calhoun. "He's dominated all three races. He's never been put in a difficult situation, and you don't know how he'll respond."

Tizaqueena heads Tiffany Lass

The star of the Tiffany Lass, a mile race for 3-year-old fillies, looks to be Tizaqueena, trained by Michael Stidham. She won her maiden impressively first time out, scoring by 5 1/4 lengths at a mile on dirt.

"We think she's a nice horse, and is ready to take the next step," said Stidham.