08/23/2005 11:00PM

Midnight Judge in off win


BOSSIER CITY, La. - Friday's optional-claiming feature at Louisiana Downs has a stakes flavor as half of the field of eight ran in a stakes in their previous start.

First, there is Midnight Judge, who won the Pierre LeBlanc Memorial Stakes at Evangeline Downs on July 30. Trained by Joey Tamburello, she has been busy in 2005, winning 4 of her 10 starts. She was last seen here in the Hallowed Dreams on July 17, running fifth. Gerard Melancon, up for the LeBlanc, once again will ride her.

Meanwhile, Time for Etbauer may be in position to control her own destiny on Friday, as she appears to have the only legitimate speed in the six-furlong race. She set the pace in the Tellike Handicap in her last start, zipping the opening quarter in a blistering 21.60 seconds and the half-mile in 45.20 before weakening a little in the lane. Facing little if any other early speed in Friday's race, jockey Jamie Theriot should be able to go much slower in the early going. Trainer Sherman Savoie put a bullet half-mile breeze into Time for Etbauer on Saturday, and the filly appears to be sitting on a good performance.

Although she does not exit stakes company, Abbeys Runner deserves consideration off the strength of a strong second-place finish in allowance company on Aug. 11. Abbeys Runner has yet to win this year but continues to knock on the door for trainer Morris Nicks. Last year's riding champ, Lonnie Meche, will be in the saddle.

Another optional-claiming race on Friday's card is for 2-year-old fillies, and several horses in the six-furlong dash, for entry-level allowance fillies, were nominated for Sunday's $50,000 Princess Stakes.

Tortuga Flats will likely be favored Friday after running second in the Southern Belle Stakes in here last start. A winner at first asking against fellow Louisiana-breds, Tortuga Flats will be ridden by Luis Quinonez.

With no turf racing this week because of previously scheduled course maintenance, Saturday's races failed to fill on Wednesday. Entries for Saturday and Sunday were to be taken Thursday. Racing resumes on the turf next week.