12/28/2004 12:00AM

Louisiana 'Cap coming up strong

Reed Palmer Photography
Fantasticat, Gerard Melancon up, is expected to join a strong field in Friday's Louisiana 'Cap.

NEW ORLEANS - Stephen Foster Handicap winner Colonial Colony and Super Derby winner Fantasticat are among a talented field of handicap horses expected to run Friday at Fair Grounds in the $60,000 Louisiana Handicap at 1 1/16 miles.

The field is likely to include at least five stakes winners, including Alumni Hall. Trainer Neil Howard originally entered Alumni Hall in the Tenacious Handicap on Dec. 4 at Fair Grounds along with Midway Road, but decided to try Alumni Hall on the turf instead. Midway Road won the Tenacious Handicap in a thrilling stretch duel with Pie N Burger, but Howard is passing the Louisiana Handicap with Midway Road in favor of the Grade 3 Mineshaft Handicap here on Feb. 12. Pie N Burger is returning in the Louisiana Handicap, as are the third- and fourth-place finishers in the Tenacious, stakes winner Kodema and Absent Friend.

Colonial Colony turned in his final work for the race last Friday, going five furlongs in 1:02.80. Alumni Hall also worked last Friday, indicating his sharpness with a bullet work at the same distance in 1:00.40, the fastest of 61 works at five furlongs that day.

Fantasticat also drilled a bullet work the same morning over the Fair Grounds strip, getting a half mile in 48.60 seconds. The work was the fastest of 75 works at the distance.

The Beter Man Can bounces back

The Beter Man Can came into the $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Lassie at Fair Grounds on Dec. 11 as an undefeated 2-year-old filly off an easy score in the Laurel Lane Stakes. She ran a dud of a race in the Lassie, finishing fifth as the 4-5 favorite, but redeemed herself last Sunday in the six-furlong Louisiana Futurity with a 6 1/4-length victory.

"We were a little disappointed with the Lassie after her first two perfect starts," said trainer Patrick Mouton. "But there was nothing wrong with her after the race. She just had a bad race. I scoped her and drew blood but couldn't find a thing wrong with her, and she acted like nothing was bothering her. So we said we're throwing that race out and trying again."

In the Futurity, The Beter Man Can ran like a champion, tracking pacesetter Sweet Macaroni and putting that one away at will, then coasting home in 1:12.42 under E.J. Perrodin.

"I felt after she broke she was herself again," said Perrodin.

At the head of the stretch it looked as if it would be a two-horse race to the wire, but The Beter Man Can wore out Sweet Macaroni, who tired to fourth. Two races later, in the colt and gelding division, Witness to a Fight required 1:12.98 to cover the same distance.

Gold Storm pointing to Colonel Power

Trainer Bubba Cascio said that Gold Storm, who finished ninth in the Breeders' Cup Sprint at Lone Star Park in his last start, will be pointed to the $60,000 Colonel Power Handicap at Fair Grounds on Jan. 9. "He should be ready to go for the ninth," said Cascio, who has been successful in his first season at Fair Grounds after wintering at Delta Downs and Sam Houston Park in previous years. Cascio withdrew Gold Storm from the opening day Thanksgiving Handicap because he said he felt the horse needed more time to recover after his taxing Breeders' Cup performance.

Gold Storm will face a competitive field in the Colonel Power. Thanksgiving Handicap winner Ole Rebel turned in a bullet work Sunday, going five furlongs in 1:00.80, nearly three seconds faster than the second-best move.

Graded stakes winner Clock Stopper is also eyeing the Colonel Power. Trainer Dallas Stewart sent Clock Stopper out Monday for a four-furlong workout in 50.20.

Five expected in Letellier Memorial

Newly turned 3-year-old fillies will celebrate their birthdays Saturday on New Year's Day at the Fair Grounds in the $50,000 Letellier Memorial Stakes at six furlongs. More Moonlight, a stakes winner trained by Steve Asmussen, is expected to take on Hot Storm, Emma's Storm, Galactic Cat, and True Tails in the race.