08/08/2003 12:00AM

Mr. Jester facing a tough crew in Pioneer

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Mr. Jester might have lost the battle in his last start, but he can win the war Sunday in the $50,000 Pioneer for 2-year-olds at Louisiana Downs. The fighting, however, will be intense.

It is tough to dismiss any of the eight colts in the 5 1/2-furlong race, with the top challengers to Mr. Jester being Afternoon Charlie and Full Moons Arisin.

Mr. Jester was one of the most impressive debut winners at the meet when he rolled to a 9 1/4-length win in a five-furlong race July 3 and earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 82.

In his only other start, Mr. Jester was bet down to 3-5 in an entry-level allowance. He contested the pace and finished second, beaten 1 1/4 lengths by a more experienced Full Moons Arisin.

Steve Wren trains Mr. Jester for Kaaren and Hays Biggs. Roman Chapa will ride Mr. Jester, a Silver Deputy colt out of the multiple Grade 1-placed mare Future Pretense.

Afternoon Charlie, a half-brother to stakes winner Jolie's Julia, will be formidable. He comes into the Pioneer on the heels of a second-place finish to Korbyn Gold in the $70,000 Middleground Breeders' Cup at Lone Star Park on July 13.

He tracked dueling leaders that day and was beaten two lengths in a six-furlong race that went in a quick 1:09.40.

Afternoon Charlie has since worked well at Louisiana Downs. Lonnie Meche has the mount for owner Phillip Robertson and trainer Steve Asmussen.

Trainer Jim Gaston, a two-time winner of the Pioneer who has developed some of the region's top 2-year-old stakes winners, might have another good one on his hands in Full Moons Arisin. The colt is shooting for his third straight win Sunday following two impressive victories in July.

He won his maiden race on turf by 9 1/4 lengths July 5, then in his most recent start defeated Mr. Jester in a 5 1/2-furlong allowance July 24.

In addition to his sharp form, Full Moons Arisin brings an interesting pedigree to the table. His dam is a half-sister to past 2-year-old champion Rockhill Native. Kirk LeBlanc has the mount Sunday.

Others of note in the race include Canadian River, who is a half-brother to Hadif One, a past winner of the Friendship Stakes for 2-year-olds at Louisiana Downs.