06/15/2006 11:00PM

A pair with stakes aspirations

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BOSSIER CITY, La. - Sunday's featured third-level allowance race for Louisiana-breds could go a long way in determining the immediate future of a couple of runners who appear at a crossroads.

Native Malagra and Krises Bells both have run in stakes and each could resume his quest for black type with a big effort on Sunday. With the lucrative programs of Louisiana Legends Night at Evangeline Downs over the Fourth of July holiday and the Louisiana Breeders' Festival here in August rapidly approaching, the time has come to get one last prep race in before the fireworks begin.

Krises Bells has focused on turf recently for trainer Jonas Gibson and turned in a solid third-place finish in the $50,000 John Franks Memorial on opening day here in early May. The 4-year-old Krises Bells followed up with a runner-up performance over the local turf on June 8 and is slated to sprint for the first time since late last year. His biggest victory was in a second-level allowance going a mile at Evangeline in mid-March for his former trainer, Troy Young, who lost him via the claim box in a $30,000 optional claiming race in early April. A deep closer, Krises Bells will be ridden by Luis Quinonez.

Native Malagra has not raced since a fourth-place finish against first-level allowance company in mid-January at the Fair Grounds meeting that was held here. Trained by Ronnie Ward, Native Malagra finished fourth against open company in the Thanksgiving Breeders' Cup in November. He took the summer and most of the fall off after stringing three wins together earlier in the year.

Ward comes into Sunday's feature riding a hot streak after sending out two winners on Thursday. John Lejeune, aboard for one of those victories, will ride Native Malagra.

Tracy Hebert will ride Power Band, who may be in position to control the pace. Power Band most recently finished fifth in an optional claimer for statebreds on May 27 after helping to set a blistering half-mile fraction of 44.80 seconds. He shortens up to 5 1/2 furlongs, which should be to his liking as he has a win and a second-place performance in his two previous attempts at the distance.