07/10/2009 12:00AM

Nicks sends out a pair of favorites

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BOSSIER CITY, La. - Sunday's nine-race program at Louisiana Downs includes two first-level optional claiming events and one second-level allowance. Two of the three races will be run on the grass and trainer Morris Nicks will be well represented in both turf events.

Nicks won two races on Thursday's program and enters the weekend in the middle of a logjam atop the trainer standings, where just three wins separate the top six.

"We are pretty satisfied with the way things have been going," said Nicks, who has 12 winners from just 46 starters at the meet. "There are always disappointments in this game, but by and large things are going pretty well."

Nicks will send out Tensas Palmyra in the second race, a second-level allowance for Louisiana-bred fillies and mares at one mile on grass. Tensas Palmyra, a 3-year-old daughter of Afternoon Deelites and half-sister to multiple stakes winner Tensas Yucatan, whom Nicks also trained, is the 8-5 morning-line favorite. She comes off a win in entry-level allowance company here on June 12 and earlier this year finished second in the Sarah Lane's Oates Stakes at Fair Grounds.

"I don't think we have seen her best yet," Morris said. "I think she will hit her peak later in the fall, just like her sister did in winning that $200,000 against open company."

Morris was referring Tensas Yucatan's victory in the Marie DeBartolo Oaks on the Super Derby undercard in 2007. Overall, she won 8 of 18 starts and more than $436,000.

In the ninth race, which is at five furlongs on the turf, Nicks will saddle Summit Cat. A Storm Boot filly, Summit Cat graduated in her final start of the Fair Grounds meeting in mid-March and has been freshened since. She has been training forwardly for her return and is listed as the 2-1 morning-line favorite.

Nicks has given the call on both Tensas Palmyra and Summit Cat to Patrick Valenzuela.

In the eighth race, an evenly matched field of 10 will go a mile and 70 yards on the main track. Vegas Storm appears to be the controlling speed of the race and returns to the dirt after an unsuccessful effort on the turf. Trained by Mike Burgess, Vegas Storm put together two impressive wins at Delta Downs over the winter and will be making only his second start since that meeting concluded in late March. Sidney Lejeune will be in the saddle.