01/22/2010 1:00AM

Much to prove in the Lecomte

Hoofprints Inc.
Citrus Kid, winner of the Dover Stakes, will make his 2010 debut in the Grade 3 Lecomte.

NEW ORLEANS - Trainer John Terranova put the 3-year-old colt Citrus Kid on a van headed from south Florida to New Orleans on Tuesday night with the intention of finding out what everyone with a horse in the Lecomte Stakes wants to know.

"We're going to see where he's at this stage of the game, if he's ready to take on the better 3-year-olds," Terranova said.

The Grade 3, $100,000 Lecomte feels like a typical mid-winter 3-year-old stakes, a prep race for a true Kentucky Derby prep race. Only four of the 11 horses entered in the Lecomte have even contested a graded stakes. Turf Melody is the only three-time winner. No one, save perhaps Maximus Ruler, has run very fast.

The Lecomte is one of six stakes on an excellent Fair Grounds program that begins at 12:10 p.m. Central. Lengthened from one mile to a mile and 40 yards this year, the Lecomte caps a $100,000-guaranteed pick four that spans races 7-10. The sequence begins with the .

Purchased privately after winning the Dover Stakes at Delaware, Citrus Kid took an early lead in the Grade 2 Remsen last November but had no punch for the stretch run. The colt has talent, Terranova said, but still is finding his way.

"He's kind of a raw colt, very immature still in terms of his physical development," Terranova said. For the Remsen "he was a little sharp, but now he's just more push-button. He's really matured a lot in the last couple months."

Maximus Ruler finished third in a troubled career debut, then cleared the maiden ranks beating eight entry-level allowance horses Nov. 26 at Churchill. The Lecomte marks Maximus Ruler's two-turn debut, but listening to trainer Clark Hanna talk about Maximus Ruler's half-mile work Tuesday, the distance should not be an issue.

"He's got that big, old, long stride," Hanna said. "Sometimes its hard to gauge how fast he's going."

Worldly has raced three times in dirt routes and came home better when second Jan. 3 in a Fair Grounds allowance than he did in a fading third-place finish in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes.

"He's a quality horse," trainer Paul McGee said.

Turf Melody narrowly won the $100,000 Springboard Mile at Remington in his last start.