08/25/2009 12:00AM

Marshall's scouting method works out well

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Trainer Kenneth "Butch" Marshall has several criteria when scouting out 2-year-olds at auction, but one of the most important to him is a horse's composure in the sales ring. These days, his theory is looking golden. Marshall shipped into Louisiana Downs earlier this month and almost swept both 2-year-old turf route stakes on the Prelude Day program. He sent out the undefeated Forestry Steel to a head win in the $50,000 Sunny's Halo, while maiden Miss Afleet Alex came rolling from next-to-last to finish second in the $50,000 Donnie Wilhite Memorial.

Both horses are graduates of an Ocala Breeders' Sales auction in April. Marshall and primary client Misty Meadows Farms attended the 2-year-olds in-training sale in search of a couple of prospects to bring back to the Southwest region. Forestry Steel, a $35,000 buy, is a son of Forestry, and Miss Afleet Alex, who was purchased for $22,000, is by Afleet Alex. Both had pedigree appeal and were nice movers, but most importantly they were ahead of some of their peers mentally.

"The final test for me is how they present themselves up there in the ring," Marshall said. "They've got to have a certain presence about them. It gives you a sign in the near future what you'll be dealing with, as far as going to the paddock and racing.

"The more professional horse you can get, one that will rate off the pace and relax and give you a good effort, it gives you an [advantage] over a lot of them right now."

Marshall, an Oklahoma native who worked as a Midwest-based assistant to trainer Jerry Hollendorfer in 2004 and 2005, has 10 horses in training at Remington Park. Of them, eight are juveniles. Marshall also has a handful of 2-year-olds he is developing on the farm, all for Misty Meadows. The star of the whole operation is Forestry Steel, who closed strongly to win the one-mile Sunny's Halo. He is scheduled to work Thursday at Remington as part of his preparations for the $150,000 Sunday Silence at 1 1/16 miles on turf on the Super Derby undercard at Louisiana Downs on Sept. 19.

"He's extremely professional," Marshall said of Forestry Steel, whose other career win came in a maiden special weight turf route. "When we hauled to Louisiana, he went into the stall like he lived there his whole life. It will be a huge test when we go back down there for the Sunday Silence. It's on Super Derby Day and they'll bring some quality 2-year-olds, so we'll really find out in that race where he fits."

Miss Afleet Alex will skip the $100,000 Happy Ticket on the Super Derby undercard, but she could see stakes action late in the year in Florida, said Marshall. She has raced twice. In her debut, Miss Afleet Alex was second by three-quarters of a length in a 5 1/2-furlong maiden special weight at Lone Star Park.

"In my opinion, she's the best 2-year-old I've got," Marshall said. "She's got speed, tons of class and she showed it the other day first time going long against a nice group of horses."

Other juveniles in the Marshall barn include Fudge Truffle, a son of Candy Ride who was third in his debut July 18, and Meadowlake Red, a troubled sixth in his debut July 26.

Marshall, 45, won his first career race as a trainer at Blue Ribbon Downs in Sallisaw, Okla., in 1986. While he was with Hollendorfer he was an assistant for the barn at such tracks as Arlington Park, Churchill Downs, Keeneland, Tampa Bay Downs, Thistledown, and Beulah Park. He became a private trainer for the Misty Meadows Farms operation of F.D. Curtis in 2006.

Debut of half-sister to Premium Tap

Premium Action, a half-sister to multiple Grade 1 winner Premium Tap, will make her career debut in the third race Thursday at Louisiana Downs. The six-furlong race is for 3-year-old fillies bred in Louisiana.

Premium Action shows a steady series of local works for owner B. Wayne Hughes and trainer Al Stall Jr. She is by Action This Day, while her famous big brother, an earner of more than $2.5 million, won both the Clark and Woodward.

Starlet Afternoon, a half-sister to $700,000 earner Walk in the Snow, is also part of the field Thursday. Jami Baby has seasoning on both, among her efforts a third-place finish in a maiden race at Fair Grounds in her last start March 15.

* Jockeys Lonnie Meche and Rico Flores are expected to be off their mounts Thursday due to injuries sustained in a spill Sunday.