01/18/2004 1:00AM

On to New Orleans for Sir Cherokee

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Coady Photo
Sir Cherokee leads Freefourinternet at the wire in the Maxxam Gold Cup at Sam Houston Race Park on Saturday night. The colt will now be pointed to the New Orleans Handicap.

Sir Cherokee punched his ticket to the Grade 2, $500,000 New Orleans Handicap with a rousing, three-quarter length win over Freefourinternet $100,000 at Sam Houston Race Park on Saturday night. It was another two and a half lengths back in third to Dusty Spike.

Sir Cherokee($4.80) found himself closer to the pace than usual in the Maxxam, which was the richest of three stakes on the card. Early on, he raced in fourth behind Parrott Bay, who led the field through an opening quarter in 24.12 seconds. Sir Cherokee took over through a half-mile in 48.58 seconds, and in the stretch fought back when he briefly lost his advantage to Freefourinternet.

"I kept him a little closer to the pace feeling the fractions would be pretty slow," said Terry Thompson, who rode Sir Cherokee. "That is not usually his style, but it worked tonight. He was fresh, and broke out of the gate running."

The final time for the mile and an eighth, which was run over a muddy track, was 1:51.76.

The Maxxam was the third straight win for Sir Cherokee, who earned $60,000 for the victory. Overall he has won 5 of 12 starts and $488,310 for owners Domino Stud of Lexington, with his biggest career win coming in the 2003 running of the Arkansas Derby.

Mike Tomlinson, who trains Sir Cherokee, said the colt will be pointed for the New Orleans Handicap at Fair Grounds on Feb. 29.

* Spectacular Lisa($6.40) drove clear for a two and three-quarter length win over Cherylville Slew in the $40,000 . It was another length and a quarter back in third to Reason To Talk. Spectacular Lisa, who won an optional claimer on turf one start prior to the Distaff, earned $24,000 for the win, which was her fifth from 11 starts. Robby Albarado was aboard for Gary Logsdon and trainer Michael Stidham.

* Zee Oh Six($4.40) picked up his second seven-furlong stakes win in his last four starts when he drove to a three-quarter length victory in the $40,000 . Term Sheet finished second, eight lengths clear of third-place finisher Won C C. Zee Oh Six, who won the $35,000 Autumn Classic over seven furlongs at Remington Park on Nov. 8, was ridden by Cliff Berry. He is trained by Joe Lucas and races for Barbara and John Smicklas.