07/08/2004 11:00PM

Placid Star steps out


BOSSIER CITY, La. - Placid Star has won on dirt, turf, around one turn and two, and at three different tracks. But she will be charting new territory Sunday, when she starts in an overnight handicap for 3-year-old fillies at Louisiana Downs.

Placid Star will be facing open company for the first time in the one-mile race, which will be held on turf. Her chief rivals in the nine-horse field include such promising fillies as Outright Buck and Smokey Diplomacy, as well as open-company stakes winner Lucky Tunnel.

Placid Star is the 119-pound highweight based on her 6-for-7 career record, which has been compiled exclusively in races restricted to horses bred in Louisiana.

She has won four stakes, with her biggest wins coming in the $100,000 Sarah Lane's Oates at a mile on turf at Fair Grounds and the $125,000 Louisiana Premier Night Starlet at seven furlongs at Delta Downs.

"She's been very versatile, and whatever we've tried to do with her - she's just one of those that has that desire," said Sam David Jr., who trains Placid Star. David and James McCurry own Placid Star. "She's one of those horses who likes to win, and she just does whatever she has to to do it."

Placid Star has used a variety of running styles in her victories. "You can put her just about anywhere you want to," said David. "Ideally, I think she's a little better filly if she can just lay off off the pace a little bit."

Placid Star could get that kind of trip Sunday, possibly settling in behind Smokey Diplomacy and Timelesss Dreamer. Gerard Melancon will ride Placid Star, a daughter of Placid Fund who will break from post 6.

Lucky Tunnel is the only other stakes winner in the field, with her victory coming in the Super Bowl at Sam Houston Race Park. She will be moving back to turf Sunday.

"I think she'll make a big showing compared to what she did on turf earlier," said trainer Charles Hukill, referring to two off-the-board finishes in stakes. "Those two races, I didn't like how they set up for her. I feel like she'll handle the turf okay."

Jose Riquelme has the mount for Hukill, who also owns and bred Lucky Tunnel.

Meche could return Thursday

Jockey Donnie Meche could be race riding again as early as Thursday, said Richie Price, who is his agent. Meche, who has completed a one-year suspension for a riding infraction, has been licensed to ride and has been working horses. His comeback will come at Louisiana Downs.

"We'll shoot for next Thursday," said Price. "We enter Saturday."

Meche was suspended for not doing his best to win a trial race at Delta Downs in Vinton, La., in January 2003. Meche has said his mount, Cleaning House, injured his hoof after stumbling at the start of the race. Meche was suspended in February.

Price also books mounts for Lonnie Meche, who is Donnie's twin brother as well as the leading rider at Louisiana Downs.

Smolderin Heart dead at 9

Smolderin Heart, who won the 1998 Lone Star Derby before going on to stand stud in Arkansas, has died, said his longtime trainer, Terry Brennan. The stallion died two weeks ago after fracturing a leg when getting up from colic surgery.

Smolderin Heart, who was owned by Jeff Rand, was a popular horse in this region. After winning the Lone Star Derby, he became a Midwest sprinter of note and captured the King Cotton Stakes at Oaklawn Park. Overall, he won 8 of 35 starts and $467,686.

Smolderin Heart had a large following at stud. His first foals will hit the track in 2005.

"They're gorgeous," said Brennan.

* Merry Me in Spring, who stayed perfect in three starts with her rail-trip allowance win Thursday at Louisiana Downs, could make her next start in the $50,000 Senorita Stakes on July 24, said her trainer, David.