07/14/2008 11:00PM

New gear helps Steamy Ridge


Trainer Wes Hawley has made some key equipment changes with Steamy Ridge, changes that have helped her recapture her best form this meet at Louisiana Downs. Saturday, she will be looking for her second stakes win on the season when she starts in the $75,000 Hallowed Dreams Breeders' Cup.

The 6 1/2-furlong race is for fillies and mares, and it is the richest of four stakes on the card worth a cumulative $225,000.

Steamy Ridge garnered attention last fall at Louisiana Downs when she won her debut and then a first-level allowance over male rivals, including eventual stakes winner Snug. The main-track efforts earned her a shot at stakes competition, but she was beaten by double digits in the Grade 3 Pocahontas at Churchill Downs, the Letellier Memorial at Fair Grounds, and the Hallowed Dreams at Evangeline Downs.

"We had problems three races in a row," said Wes Hawley, who co-owns and trains Steamy Ridge. "We went through a rough patch where she was displacing her palate. We tried a few things. She fought the tongue-tie at first. She wasn't handling it well."

Hawley then changed bits. He fitted Steamy Ridge with a Serena's Song, a bit designed to depress a horse's tongue. When a horse displaces its palate, the airways become blocked and the breathing apparatus shuts down. The bit is designed to help displacing, which a horse can do for a number of reasons, sometimes from the stress of a race, or because of abnormalities in the makeup of its throat and nasal cavity.

With the equipment changes in place, Steamy Ridge reeled off back-to-back wins in turf sprints this meet at Louisiana Downs, including the $50,000 Beach Party on May 24. In her most recent start, she was second by a half-length to Doyouwanttodance in an off-the-turf allowance at Louisiana Downs. It was a dogfight of a race, and Steamy Ridge has since worked a bullet five furlongs, going the distance in 59.60 seconds last Saturday.

Hawley said Don Simington has the mount in the Hallowed Dreams. The race will share a card with the $50,000 DeBartolo Oaks, which is expected to draw both Love to Tell and Euphony, and a pair of $50,000 turf sprints for 2-year-olds, the Princess and Minstrel.

Marvel Wood may try Evangeline Mile

Marvel Wood, who earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 107 for his 7 3/4-length romp in a $50,000 optional claiming race at seven furlongs last Sunday at Louisiana Downs, has some options for his next start, said Hawley.

"Right now, we're kind of looking at the Evangeline Mile as a possibility," he said.

The $200,000 Evangeline Mile will be run at Evangeline Downs on Aug. 16.

Hawley trains Marvel Wood for Southern Equine Stable. The horse was moved into this region from Southern California because he did not handle the synthetic surface there, said Hawley.

Marvel Wood on Sunday covered seven furlongs in 1:22. His six wins before this score had all come on dirt surfaces. Marvel Wood is a 4-year-old colt by Ormsby.

* Dragum, who has been facing first-level allowance rivals at Churchill Downs, returns to Louisiana on Thursday in the featured ninth race, a $16,000 optional claimer for fillies and mares at a mile on turf. The last time Dragum ran in Louisiana, she won a $25,000 claiming race at Fair Grounds. John Jacinto has the mount for trainer Pat Mouton.