05/05/2005 12:00AM

Picking feature no easy task


BOSSIER CITY, La. - Not long after the 131st Derby is in the books, bettors here are going to be faced with another arduous task - trying to make sense out of the $50,000 Honeymoon Stakes. The nine-horse field of fillies and mares for the one-mile turf race is as equally matched as this region is likely to see all year.

, a 7-year-old mare trained by Howard Scarberry, may be a slight favorite off the strength of her past successes here, including a victory in last year's edition of this race. She had a nice tune-up over the Oaklawn main track in her only start this year when she ran fourth in allowance company on April 8. Luis Quinonez, who accounted for two of the three stakes here on opening weekend, will ride Due to Win Again, the top earner in the field with a career bankroll of over $368,000.

, a Chilean-bred from the powerful Steve Asmussen stable, will be seeking to make amends for a 10th-place finish in the recent Irving Distaff at Lone Star as the 2-1 public choice. Paz Ciudadana has won 3 of her 6 starts in this country, including scores at Hollywood Park and Santa Anita for trainer Ron McAnally. Asmussen on Saturday is hoping for the kind of effort Paz Ciudadana gave in winning an optional allowance test at Fair Grounds in her first race under his care. Carlos Gonzalez will handle the riding chores.

Another who figures prominently in the Honeymoon is . Although winless in three starts on the grass, the 4-year-old daughter of Skip Away sports some of the best recent form in the field, having run second in the Bayakoa Stakes the final week of Oaklawn. Prior to that effort, Platinum Ballet won an optional claiming race by seven lengths. Jeff Burningham will be in the saddle on Saturday.

, the winner of the Lyrique Handicap here last year as a 3-year-old, continues to show consistent form for trainer Troy Young, finishing a solid fifth in her first stakes try of the year in the Marie Krantz Memorial Stakes at Fair Grounds on March 25. She faced older foes last year in the Sangue Handicap over the turf here and outfinished Due to Win Again for the runner-up spot. Rider C.J. Woodley, who teamed up with Young for a win with Sweet Macaroni in the Fantasia Stakes last Sunday, rides Outright Buck.