02/18/2003 12:00AM

Lots of Sizzle is hot horse

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NEW ORLEANS - Lots of Sizzle's first four races blended immaturity and ability. The colt appeared to run in spurts, and when things got serious in the stretch, he wasn't all there. But in his fifth try, Lots of Sizzle figured things out, scoring a breakthrough one-length maiden win on Jan. 30.

Thursday at Fair Grounds, Lots of Sizzle puts his new understanding to work against other one-time winners, and though the step up from maidens to first-level allowance company is never easy, Lots of Sizzle has only six opponents in a 3-year-old restricted turf race at about 1 1/16 miles. Lots of Sizzle's lone win came on dirt, but he's by the young stallion Hold for Gold, a son of the strong turf influence Red Ransom. And Lots of Sizzle's cover-up-and-rally style often proves effective in grass races.

But what's most appealing about Lots of Sizzle in Thursday's ninth race is that he may simply be better than the other horses. Besides Lots of Sizzle, the obvious contenders are Justalittlemagic, Smooth as Silver, Hold Your Thought, and Marsh.

Flaws first. Justalittlemagic won his maiden by only a neck, and though the horse he beat, Canoodle, returned to win a maiden race himself, he had a surprisingly tough time doing it. Justalittlemagic improved many lengths after switching from dirt to turf, but his two grass races were sprints, and he tries two turns for the first time.

Smooth as Silver has raced exclusively on grass and exits a convincing maiden win, in which he rated and finished well. But it came at Sam Houston, where the competition is much softer than here.

Hold Your Thought perked up Dec. 29 in his first start at two turns and on grass, finishing second to Prince Alphie, a stakes winner the next time he raced. But it was a distant second, with Hold Your Thought fading late, and he didn't have another workout until a month after the race.

There may be little wrong with Marsh, and the knock on him is indirect. Marsh won a Jan. 3 maiden turf route here by 1 1/4 lengths, but the horses he beat haven't distinguished themselves. Oath of Office, third that day, finally won his maiden in a low-level claiming sprint last week.

Lots of Sizzle, owned by Everest Stables and trained by Dallas Keen, has run against higher-quality 3-year-olds, horses like Seattle Hoofer and Commander's Affair. And besides, now he knows what he's doing.

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