09/23/2004 12:00AM

Outright Buck at her peak

Louisiana Downs
Outright Buck, winning the Lyrique 'Cap, has finished first and second in her last two starts.

BOSSIER CITY, La. - Outright Buck has progressed all meet at Louisiana Downs, and on Saturday she can win the richest stakes the track offers for her division: the $100,000 Marie P. DeBartolo Breeders' Cup Handicap.

The race is one of three turf stakes on the Super Derby undercard. The others are the $75,000 Harrah's Juvenile and the $50,000 Donnie Wilhite Memorial.

meets a competitive group of 3-year-old fillies in the DeBartolo, which will be run over 1 1/16 miles. Others in the race are Topango, who has won 5 of 7 on turf; Key to the Cat, who is in the best form of her career for trainer Bobby Barnett; and Merry Me in Spring, who will be ridden by Kent Desormeaux.

Outright Buck seems up for the task. In her last start, she rallied for a one-length win in the $50,000 Lyrique on Sept. 4. Before that, she was second to older rivals in the $50,000 Sangue on Aug. 14.

"I feel real good about the race, because the filly seems like she's getting better," said Troy Young, who trains Outright Buck for Valene Farms. "Earlier in her career she wouldn't rate much, but that's not the case anymore. You can place her where you want and move her when you want, and that's very important on turf."

Outright Buck brings one other major asset into the DeBartolo. "If for some reason it rains - if this guy Ivan won't leave us alone - that's okay," said Young. "I can't tell you which surface she's better on. Horses like that don't come along too often."

Gerard Melancon has the mount Saturday.

Topango can be closer to the pace than she was in her last start, when she broke next to last from an inside post and rallied strongly for third in the Lyrique. E.J. Perrodin has the mount for HSB Racing and trainer John Locke.

Wilhite: Raw talent vs. proven commodities

How good is Varoom? He should be tested for the first time in the Wilhite, a 1 1/16-mile turf race for 3-year-olds. The field boasts 13 horses, eight of whom have won their most recent start. Of those eight, six have won their last two races, including Varoom.

Perfect in two starts, Varoom won his debut by 10 lengths July 29, then overcame a slow start to win an entry-level allowance Aug. 29. Those races were sprints on dirt, and that leaves Varoom charting new territory in the Wilhite.

Varoom is bred to love the going, however, and his works into the race have been eye-popping. Varoom is a son of Cozzene, who gets 14 percent winners from his first-time turfers, and Storm Me September, a stakes winner on turf.

As for works, Varoom's last two have come on the grass. Varoom drilled five furlongs around the dogs in 1:00.60 on Sept. 12, then came back and went the same distance, again around the dogs, in 58.40 seconds Sept. 18.

John Jacinto will ride for trainer Cole Norman, and Varoom will be coupled with two-time stakes winner Joe Six Pack.

Exploited Storm is one of the most proven horses in the Wilhite. He is looking for his third straight turf win. His streak started Aug. 13, when he won a one-mile overnight handicap at Arlington. One race later, Exploited Storm captured the $45,000 Paradise Creek at 1 1/16 miles Sept. 11. Desormeaux will ride for Barnett.

* Malanato, who was game through the stretch last out when second in the $100,000 El Joven at Retama Park, could go favored in the inaugural Harrah's Juvenile. The one-mile turf race for 2-year-olds drew 13, including Major League, a maiden winner on turf at Louisiana Downs who was unplaced as the favorite in the El Joven.