08/28/2003 11:00PM

More distance helps Doctor Mike

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It was difficult to separate Doctor Mike, Front Nine, and That Tat, the top three contenders for Sunday's $50,000 Folklore Handicap at Louisiana Downs, the last time they met.

The occasion was the $50,000 Kings Court on June 27, and Doctor Mike was up for a nose win over Front Nine in three-way photo. It was another neck back in third to a late-charging That Tat.

Things should be just as competitive in the Folklore.

"It looks like it's anybody's ballgame," said Troy Young, who trains Doctor Mike. "It's a very competitive race."

Doctor Mike will have something in his favor Sunday that he did not have in the Kings Court - distance. That race was at six furlongs, and he will get 6 1/2 furlongs to work with in the Folklore.

"That's a whole lot better for us," Young said. "At six furlongs, you have to ride hard to get him up."

Doctor Mike had to be in the race earlier than usual in the shorter Kings Court, and with Sunday's added distance and a few more starters than he faced in the Kings Court, he might have things a little easier early on in the Folklore.

"I hope we've got a pretty good early pace to come back to us, which is what you want with a closer," Young said. "He really worked hard to get up last time."

Gerard Melancon has the mount on Doctor Mike for Valene Farms.

Unlike Doctor Mike, Front Nine and That Tat have raced since the Kings Court. The two met in the $35,000 J.R. Straus Memorial at Retama Park near San Antonio on Aug. 1, with Front Nine overtaking That Tat to win the six-furlong race. Jeremy Beasley has the mount for owner Ed Few and trainer Tommie Morgan.

Jaime Theriot will ride That Tat, a former claimer who established himself as the top sprinter during the Lone Star Park meet this summer when he won all three of his starts there. He won an allowance race in track-record time, the $75,000 Ford Express, and the $100,000 Beck Auto Group Turf Sprint.

Cole Norman trains That Tat, a winner of 11 races and $326,585, for Ken Murphy.

A newcomer to the sprint stakes division at Louisiana Downs is Lost Agenda, who has won 4 of his last 5 starts. His one loss during that period came in a money allowance race, when he finished second to Doctor Mike.

E.J. Perrodin has the mount for trainer C.W. Cascio.

The six-horse field is completed by Electrode and Pink Duck.