01/24/2004 12:00AM

New Orleans 'Cap next for 'Silver'

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NEW ORLEANS - No question, Badge of Silver has not forgotten how to sprint. Making his first start since March 9, Badge of Silver won a Fair Grounds allowance race by 2 3/4 lengths on Friday, running the fastest six furlongs of this Fair Grounds meet, 1:08.88.

Now it is on to the real races. Badge of Silver appears to have come out of his win in good physical condition, and he's on target to start next in the $500,000 New Orleans Handicap on Feb. 29.

It was a quiet Friday afternoon at Fair Grounds, but Badge of Silver's performance sent a ripple of excitement through onlookers. Breaking sharply, he made a clear lead while racing in hand, and after being challenged in the stretch by a colt named Clock Stopper, Badge of Silver surged clear and won going away. Jockey Robby Albarado let Badge of Silver run strongly past the wire to the seven-eighths pole, and onlookers timed his seven-furlong gallop-out in just more than 1:22.

Back in his stall an hour later, Badge of Silver "was bucking and playing," trainer Ronny Werner said Saturday morning. "That's not really him, either, and I don't think the race took anything out of him."

Werner said he had hoped to see Badge of Silver racing a couple of lengths off the pace Friday but wasn't displeased with the way the race unfolded. "I think he'll be a bit more settled next time. What he did in the race probably was worth about four works."

Badge of Silver will have one more major breeze before stretching out to nine furlongs in the New Orleans Handicap. Werner pointed out that the colt jumped from six furlongs to a 1 1/16 miles when he won the Risen Star here last season.

In about five weeks, Werner and owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey will see what sort of older handicap horse they have. It's plenty to look forward to.

"There's not a trainer on the backstretch that's not looking for one like him," Werner said. "It picks everybody's head up around the barn to have him come back. That's why you come out here."

Chivalric returns off surprising win

There's an outside chance Monday's featured ninth race could produce a starter for the Risen Star Stakes next month. More likely, any horses with true ability will develop later in the spring, but there are prospects.

Start with Chivalric, who won his career debut here Jan. 12 at odds of 7-1, a big number for a Steve Asmussen-trained first-time starter. But Asmussen himself wasn't particularly enamored of Chivalric right out of the gate.

"I was surprised he won," Asmussen said. "Every indication to me was that he would move forward off his first race."

If that's the case, Chivalric has a strong chance to make it two straight in this 1 1/16-mile race. By A.P. Indy, Chivalric, according to Asmussen, is "a great big colt. I think he has limitless potential."

There are just six horses in this race, and it apparently lacks early pace. Chivalric came from off the pace in his win, as did the last-out winner Breakaway, who needed six starts to win a maiden race and might be overbet for high-profile connections, trainer Neil Howard and jockey Robby Albarado.

The horse who might make the lead, Swaggering, has never won a race of any kind, but he has talent. Trained for Juddmonte Farms by Chris Speckert, Swaggering comes out of a promising maiden sprint, in which he ran on steadily in the stretch and finished third.