01/20/2007 12:00AM

Pair of classy comebackers to do battle


NEW ORLEANS - Monday's feature at Fair Grounds drew a pair of horses who showed ability early in their careers but who are now working on comebacks after being sidelined for lengthy periods by injury.

Well Said and Sorcerer's Stone, both four years old, will meet at 1 1/16 miles in a third-level optional claimer, but once upon a time they ran against some of the better horses of their generation.

Well Said has progressed more in his comeback. A son of Aptitude, he looked spectacular edging Red Raymond here in his first race since finishing fourth to Lawyer Ron in the Grade 3 Rebel at Oaklawn Park last March. He was sidelined after the Rebel with bone chips in an ankle, but trainer Walter Bindner has him back in top form.

"He came out of his last race well," said Bindner. "He's pretty fit, and he's ready to run."

Sorcerer's Stone, on the other hand, has yet to look like his old self in two starts since returning from a 14-month layoff following a sixth-place finish to Stevie Wonderboy in the 2005 Breeders' Cup Juvenile. He was undefeated going into that race, but underwent surgery afterward to remove a bone chip from his ankle.

Sorcerer's Stone returned on opening day of this meet, running fourth in an allowance sprint. He did not progress in his next start around two turns, being eased in the fog and mud on Jan. 5 at Delta Downs, but the track was such a mess that the race can most likely be tossed out. Trainer Brandon Marks has obtained the services of leading rider Joe Talamo for this race.

Saint Augustus and Funk are coming back after long layoffs. Both horses were formerly trained by Todd Pletcher.

Saint Augustus, a 4-year-old who has been off since June, is currently under the care of David Carroll and has been put through a series of light works for this spot.

Funk finished second in the 2004 Laurel Futurity but has not raced since winning a Churchill Downs allowance 14 months ago. Trainer Ralph Nicks has been drilling him steadily for his return, and he may have a little more bottom in him.

The deep talent in this lineup doesn't stop there. Good and Lucky must be given serious consideration off a gate-to-wire score in the off-the-turf Woodchopper Dec. 30 at Fair Grounds. Always Noble is coming off a win at Delta Downs in the mud.