12/02/2004 12:00AM

Midway Road looks ready for Tenacious

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NEW ORLEANS - Midway Road turned the corner at Neil Howard's barn on Monday morning, cooling out after working five furlongs in 1:01 for Saturday's Tenacious Handicap. The work was the fastest of 29 horses at the distance, and Midway Road walked with the relaxed but confident stride of a serious horse sitting on a big race.

"There he is," said Howard, with a slight wave of his right hand. Howard's poker face revealed nothing of his thoughts, but it wasn't hard to see that Midway Road's move had pleased him.

, a 4-year-old Jade Hunter colt, is a William Farish homebred. He will carry 123 pounds, including Robby Albarado, in the 1 1/16-mile Tenacious and will break from post 3, which should allow him to set the pace, just as he did in his last race, a game nose victory in the Grade 3 Fayette at Keeneland.

Midway Road will attempt to add the winner's share of the $60,000 purse to lifetime earnings of $659,060. He finished second to Funny Cide in the 2003 Preakness and second to Southern Image in this year's Pimlico Special.

Fantasticat, ninth in his last start, the Breeders' Cup Classic, will carry 117 in the Tenacious. Before the Classic, he rallied to victory in the mud in the Grade 2 Super Derby at Louisiana Downs on Sept. 25. Fantasticat has never finished off the board in five lifetime starts at Fair Grounds, including his maiden score last season. Brian Hernandez Jr. will ride.

Midway Road may have company on the front end from Shaky Town, a Cole Norman-trained 4-year-old who is the co-lightweight at 112 under John Jacinto. Norman also has a coupled entry of Pie N Burger and Intelligent Male in the race. All three Norman runners are also entered in the $75,000 Sam's Town at Delta Downs on Saturday.

will likely have an impact on the pace if he runs in the Tenacious. He wired the field Aug. 14 in the Evangeline Downs Mile and turned in a bullet five-furlong work in 1:00.40 at Louisiana Downs for this assignment. Pie N Burger, a 6-year-old gelding by Twining, will carry 120 pounds from the outside post in the field of eight under jockey Jamie Theriot.

The Steve Asmussen-trained Spanish Empire, a 4-year-old Pleasant Colony colt, was a top runner at Fair Grounds last season, when he won the Louisiana Handicap and finished second in the Tenacious and the Feb. 1 Whirlaway. He went on to win the Grade 3 Fifth Season at Oaklawn Park on April 7. Spanish Empire will carry 119 pounds from post 6 with Lonnie Meche in the saddle.

Kodema, a 5-year-old gelding by Seeking the Gold, drew the rail and carries 116 pounds with jockey Jose Martinez Jr. Absent Friend, an allowance winner at Louisiana Downs in his last start, gets in with 112 pounds and jockey Carlos Marquez Jr.