03/23/2004 1:00AM

Mamboalot gets a do-over


With only four days remaining at the Fair Grounds meet, Steve Asmussen is securely atop the trainers standings, looking for his fourth consecutive title. This past weekend was a relatively quiet one for his barn, which sent out only three starters and won once. But by Sunday evening, Asmussen's win total had been reduced by one, too.

Fair Grounds stewards on Saturday disqualified the Asmussen-trained filly Mamboalot from her optional claiming race win on Feb. 15 because of the presence in her system of the prohibited drug Acepromazine. Asmussen waived the right to a hearing, paid a fine, and scoured the condition book for the next available spot.

It didn't take long to find one. The conditions for Thursday's featured eighth race closely resemble the one Mamboalot crossed the wire first in last month: A $32,000 second-level allowance with a $40,000 claiming option. The only difference is that Thursday's race is scheduled for a mile on dirt, while Mamboalot "won" last time in a race originally scheduled for the turf but moved to dirt.

, 4, will be making her second U.S. start Thursday. She won two of five starts in France, both wins coming at Saint-Cloud, the left-handed course on the outskirts of Paris. Perhaps due in part to that experience around left turns, it didn't take Mamboalot long to adapt to an American racecourse. Her first-place finish last month came only four months after her last start in France.

Mamboalot led her field wire-to-wire last time out, but she is not one-dimensional. She rallied from off the pace in both wins overseas and on Thursday she might sit right off the field's other pacesetter, Sweep on Bye, who breaks to her inside.

, a former claimer, has finished first or second in three starts this meet, but will need a peak effort to make it two wins in a row following a narrow first-level allowance win on Feb. 12.

The main threat to Mamboalot could come from Allspice, a stakes- caliber filly making her third start off an extended layoff. Second behind Lady Tak in the one-mile Tiffany Lass last year, Allspice has sprinted twice since her return from a nine-month layoff. She finished a narrowly beaten second in an off-the-turf optional claimer on Feb. 12, then was seventh in the Marie Krantz Memorial on March 13.

Mini Brush, unraced since an eighth-place finish in the Lagniappe Stakes at Delta Downs in December, can also win with her best race.