09/04/2006 11:00PM

Meche set up for big finish

Jockey Lonnie Meche's 75 wins top the standings at Louisiana Downs.

To call the last week a productive one for jockey Lonnie Meche would be a gross understatement. He not only moved to a one-win lead in the rider standings at Louisiana Downs, but he also locked up a mount for the track's richest race, the Grade 2, $500,000 Super Derby.

Meche guided Louisborg to victory in the $100,000 Prelude last Friday, and Louisborg is now being pointed for the Super Derby on Sept. 23, said his trainer, Tony Richey. The win was one of 75 at the meet for Meche.

Carlos Gonzalez, who has been in control of the standings much of the season, sits one win back in second. Meche knows he will have a title fight on his hands with Gonzalez through the end of the meet, Oct. 21, and said he is dedicated to doing all he can to secure his third Louisiana Downs title. His other local titles came in 1997 and 2004.

"I truly think if you want to be on top, you've got to ride for everybody, because everybody's going to have winners in their barn, whether it's the little guy who doesn't have many horses or the big stable," said Meche, 31. "But all of them will have a winner in their barn, and I'd like to be a part of it.

"If I have a lot of workers in the morning, then I feel like I'm accomplishing something," he said. "My theory is, if they don't want you in the morning, they ain't going to want you in the afternoon."

Trainer Morris Nicks and Meche have won at a 33 percent clip this meet, including stakes with Northern Scene and Carolina Sky. Nicks first teamed with Meche several years ago in Kentucky.

"I put him, I think, on 15 horses one year and he won nine," said Nicks. "He's got a lot of talent on a horse. He shows it. You'll see horses, it seems like they run three or four [Beyer] points better when he's on them. That wins races."

Northern Scene is a candidate to defend his title in the $100,000 Texas Hall of Fame next month at Retama Park, and Nicks said Carolina Sky is being pointed for the $100,000 River Cities Breeders' Cup at Louisiana Downs on Sept. 30. They account for two of Meche's four stakes wins at the meet. Louisborg and Meche also make a good team, said Richey.

"The horse responds to him," the trainer said.

Meche guided Louisborg to a head win in his career debut and a half-length win in the Prelude. Meche will be gunning for his second Super Derby win next month; he captured the race in 2001 with Outofthebox.

Meche said the support of horsemen and the right mount choices by his agent, Ron Ardoin, have made for a strong meet. A former jockey, Ardoin won 5,226 races before retiring in 2004. He is in a new venture as an agent, and he said he likes working with a talent like Meche.

"He's doing his part," said Ardoin. "For a bug boy agent - that's what I call myself - we're working hard and trying to prove our point."

Meche has won 1,611 races in his career, including the 1997 Kentucky Oaks with Blushing K. D.

Evangeline talent moves to the Downs

Since the Evangeline Downs meet in Opelousas, La., closed on Monday night, several horses, jockeys, and trainers have shown up in the entries at Louisiana Downs. Kirk LeBlanc, who won the Evangeline title, has mounts on the card Thursday.

Keith Bourgeois, the Evangeline meet's leading trainer, will start Drill Hall in the eighth race Thursday at Louisiana Downs. He has given the mount to Steve Bourque. Other new faces in the entries include jockeys Curt Bourque, Kerwin Clark, and Jerri Nichols, and trainers Sam Breaux, Troy Young, and Curley Zenon.