12/05/2003 1:00AM

Lone Star Sky presses forward again


NEW ORLEANS - All year, it's been one step forward and two steps back for Lone Star Sky. For the first time since June 14, Lone Star Sky will step onto the track to compete in a race and take another step in the right direction.

Second to Badge of Silver in the Risen Star Stakes and fourth in the Louisiana Derby, Lone Star Sky regressed in the Illinois Derby, beaten 12 3/4 lengths, and was 15th in the Kentucky Derby. He had just come forward again with a second to Champali in the Northern Dancer at Churchill, when he suffered an injury.

"I don't know how it happened, but he hurt his foot," said Tom Amoss, who trains Lone Star Sky for owner Walter Buddy New. "He shed the frog of his foot, and we had to give it a chance to grow back. He had a couple setbacks along the way, where it didn't heal up as quickly as we would've liked."

But Lone Star Sky is back now, facing six opponents in a six-furlong sprint allowance, with a string of regularly spaced Churchill workouts dating back to early October.

"I would say he's where he needs to be to race, but he's probably a race away from his best," Amoss said.

The big money for 3-year-olds lies in route racing, and that is what Lone Star Sky tried to do for much of this year, but the sharpest races of his career have arguably come at one turn. Lone Star Sky has post 1 Sunday and doesn't figure to show much early zip, but as many as five of his rivals could force the early pace, setting things up for him.

There is little doubt that Seventh Inning is heading to the lead from his outside post, but it's his performance from the quarter pole to the finish that's in question. Seventh Inning, an Overbrook Farm sales purchase trained by Dallas Stewart, has been wildly inconsistent this season, winning his first two starts, then losing two in a row by wide margins. A blowout win Sept. 17 at Turfway was followed by two more duds, but Seventh Inning has worked well over this racetrack and may return to his better form Sunday.

Somethingdangerous had progressive form during the summer but has lost two straight. Stanislas may be ready to do something noteworthy after a five-month layoff. Ole Rebel is a threat on his best day, and excels over this track. There is a minor curiosity, two Oklahoma-breds in a New Orleans race, Zee Oh Six and Cheyenne Breeze. Both are longshots.