04/29/2005 11:00PM

Louisiana: Screen Idol comes on late

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Surging strongly to the front turning for home under Luis Quinonez, Screen Idol edged clear late to win Friday's John Franks Memorial Stakes at Louisiana Downs. Spritely Walker, favored at 9-5 in the opening-day feature, encountered traffic trouble entering both the far turn and the stretch but still rallied to nip Bebe Garcon for second, with Donna's Golddigger an equally close fourth.

Quinonez was content to settle Screen Idol well off the quick fractions of 22.20 and 45.53 seconds set by Rail Rose before advancing on the second turn. Putting a head in front into the stretch, Quinonez kept his mount's mind on business with steady pressure to prevail by 1 1/2 lengths, covering the mile in 1:35.02 over a firm turf course.

"I just let my horse relax away from there and just let him run his race," said Quinonez. "In the second turn he started to really come to the leader and we just went around him pretty easy."

Owned by Foxwood Plantation and trained by Ray Spencer, Screen Idol ($14.20) won for the fifth time in 18 starts and has now won his last two races at Louisiana Downs after winning the Shiskabob Stakes in his final start there last fall.

* Opening-day handle for the card's 11 races was a strong $3,630,459, up 38 percent from last year's total of $2,625,618, which was bet on a 12-race card.