05/25/2005 12:00AM

Nicks barn enjoys hot start

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BOSSIER CITY, La. - Just a few minutes after Ralph Nicks sent out Cool Conductor to over Artie Schiller in the Grade 2 CompUSA Dixie Stakes on the Preakness undercard, his father, Morris, was also having his picture taken, albeit with much less fanfare.

A victory by Take a Pass in nonwinners-of-two company for a $12,500 tag was the elder Nicks's latest success during a solid first month of the current meeting at Louisiana Downs.

Heading into the Memorial Day weekend, Morris Nicks has saddled nine winners from just 26 starters, a gaudy 36-percent success rate. He enjoyed an even greater winning percentage here last year when he won with 29 of his 75 starters, which translated to a 39-percent win rate.

Nicks has returned to Louisiana Downs the last couple of seasons after spending several summers in Kentucky.

Ralph Nicks actually rode here briefly in the mid-1980's before turning his pursuits to training.

Crafty Taylor seeks repeat

Crafty Taylor seeks her second victory on the local grass course this season in Friday's allowance feature at one mile. She will face an evenly matched group of seven foes, most of whom have stakes experience on grass.

Trained by Andrew Leggio, Crafty Taylor won impressively in an optional claiming race on the turf here May 8, prompting the early pace before taking over in the run up the back straight. She may have company up front on Friday, however, as Salzurita appears to be equally as quick.

still rates as the one to beat, having finished off the board only once in eight tries over the local turf, including three wins. Leading rider John Jacinto once again has the mount.

, with E.J. Perrodin in the saddle, appears the one most likely to benefit should an early duel develop between Crafty Taylor and Salzurita. Intractabie comes off a rallying third-place finish in a similar spot on May 13, her first start since concluding her Fair Grounds campaign in late March. Pat Mouton will saddle the 5-year-old Intractabie, who has also enjoyed success locally.

, a two-time winner over the turf here, comes into Friday's feature off a solid second- place finish in the Red Camelia Handicap at Fair Grounds on March 27. Gerard Melancon will ride.