07/28/2004 11:00PM

No Place Like It owns class edge


BOSSIER CITY, La. - No Place Like It, the only stakes winner in the field, is clearly the horse to beat in Saturday's $50,000 Bossier City Handicap, a 1 1/16-mile turf race for 3-year-olds at Louisiana Downs.

Following his win in the $200,000 USA stakes at Lone Star on Memorial Day, No Place Like It tested graded company for the first time in the Virginia Derby on July 10. An eighth-place finish in that race put an end to a three-race winning streak that began modestly enough in a $30,000 maiden claimer at Lone Star April 15.

Even though the Cinderella story of No Place Like It was derailed with the trip to Virginia, a cast of mostly allowance performers in the Bossier City could put it back on track. Trainer Jack Bruner has given Corey Lanerie the call at 120 pounds.

Rollicking Caller comes off a fifth-place finish in the Excalibur Stakes as the 5-2 favorite on June 26. That race was originally scheduled to be contested over the local turf but was moved to the main track due to rain. Trainer Donnie Von Hemel is hoping for drier weather this weekend and a return to the surface that produced a third-place finish in the USA behind No Place Like It. Luis Quinonez will be the rider.

Longshot players have limited options in the Bossier City, but Northern Scene could be an interesting play. A winner of two of his last three, Northern Scene is coming off a game third against older foes over the main track on July 3. He won his maiden on the grass in May, but his last two races were shifted off the turf to the dirt. John Jacinto will ride at 116 pounds.

Alpha Capo is a three-time winner on the grass and comes off a victory in a nonwinners-of-three allowance at Lone Star. Seventh to No Place Like It in the USA, Alpha Capo appears to have improved for trainer Steve Asmussen and has continued to train very well between starts as he prepares for his local debut. He will be ridden by Donnie Meche.

Caitlin's Playboy, My Dreaming, Social King, and Leo's Way complete the field.