02/16/2006 1:00AM

Nitro Chip again faces chief rival


Nitro Chip and Badtotheboneandrew will meet for the third time in as many months Saturday night in the $150,000 Louisiana Premier Championship at Evangeline Downs. The Premier Championship is the richest of six stakes races on the card.

The recent Nitro Chip-Badtotheboneandrew rivalry stands at one win each. Nitro Chip won the Lagniappe Classic at the Fair Grounds meeting at Louisiana Downs on Jan. 22 with Badto-theboneandrew third. Badtothe-boneandrew won the Louisiana Champions Day Classic at that same oval on Dec. 10 with Nitro Chip second. There are eight other older Louisiana-breds entered in the 1 1/16-mile race on an all-Louisiana-bred, 11-race program that gets under way at 6:45 p.m. Central.

won the Premier Championship last year but is defending the title at a new venue because the traditional winter dates at Delta Downs were moved to Evangeline while damage from Hurricane Rita is being repaired. Nitro Chip has a victory at Evangeline, however, in an allowance race here in December. Overall, Nitro Chip, 5, has won 10 of 18 starts and over $471,000.Robby Albarado, aboard for the Lagniappe Classic win, will come in from Oaklawn Park to ride.

, 4, who like Nitro Chip won the Louisiana Breeders' Derby at age 3, will be looking for his fifth win. His stalk-and-pounce running style should serve him well, and regular rider Gerard Melancon will ride.

, who finished a close second to Nitro Chip in the Lagniappe Classic and ahead of Badtothebonean-drew, is perhaps a forgotten horse in trainer Andy Leggio's stable, which also houses the superstar Happy Ticket.

Prince T., 4, will be making only his third start. He spent seven months on the sidelines following a solid second in open company last April on the Arkansas Derby undercard at Oaklawn Park. He is in position to show improvement and should give his more seasoned foes all they can handle. Guy Smith will ride.