07/04/2001 11:00PM

Louisiana Downs: 'Party' time

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BOSSIER CITY, La. - It was a battle of the highweights down the stretch Wednesday at Louisiana Downs in the Independence Breeders' Cup Handicap, as Nat's Big Party outfinished Candid Glen. Defending champion Colonial Power finished third, followed by Devil Me Care.

Nat's Big Party, owned by Richard Englander and trained by Steve Asmussen, was the slight favorite over Candid Glen and at 117 pounds was in receipt of one pound from Candid Glen. Nat's Big Party stalked early leaders American Spirit and Golden Ile before Corey Lanerie asked him for some run out of the second turn of the 1 1/16-mile turf race.

E. J. Perrodin had Candid Glen on stride at about the same time, and the two hooked up when they straightened for home, with Nat's Big Party coming out a neck on top.

Nat's Big Party stopped the timer in 1:41.71. He paid $5.60 and the exacta returned $15. The win was Nat's Big Party's second this season and his 11th in 58 career starts. The $60,000 winner's share increased his lifetime earnings to just over $437,000.