12/21/2005 12:00AM

Plan B working out

Louis Hodges Jr.
Onthedeanslist, here winning Sunday's Colonel E.R. Bradley Handicap with Corey Lanerie up, may be headed to the Fair Grounds BC 'Cap.

It looked at one point, when he was a 3-year-old in 2002, like Onthedeanslist was going to be a pretty tough 4-year-old horse in the dirt handicap ranks. Sometimes things don't develop exactly as one plans, but turn out all right after all.

Three years later, and Onthedeanslist is fulfilling the promise he showed as a youngster, but he's doing it at a later age, and on a different racing surface, than one might have expected. Onthedeanslist almost won a high-end turf allowance race at the end of the Churchill meet, making all the pace before being nailed in the final 50 yards by the talented, if aging, Honor in War, and on Sunday at the Fair Grounds meet at Louisiana Downs, he made his speed stick, holding clear favored Fort Prado to win the Colonel E. R. Bradley Handicap by three-quarters of a length.

A switch to grass, and more continuity in his racing schedule, have propelled Onthedeanslist to new heights this year. And so what if his seventh birthday is only a couple of weeks off: If all goes well, Onthedeanslist will have a chance to win the biggest race of his career in the $200,000 Fair Grounds Breeders' Cup Handicap on Jan. 21.

"That'd be the idea," said Ralph Nicks, who trains Onthedeanslist for a Team Valor Stable partnership. "That was in the plans if all goes well."

Onthedeanslist won 4 of his first 5 starts, and he came into 2003 looking like a horse to watch, but he won just once, finished his season in July, and after making it back to the races the following spring, showed nothing in two Oaklawn Park starts after being transferred to Nicks. Onthedeanslist didn't race for a year, fighting off what Nicks termed "systemic problems," but made great strides this season after being switched to turf. Onthedeanslist put together a three-race win streak capped off by his first stakes victory - in the Tri State at Ellis Park - and after a soft-turf debacle at The Meadowlands in October, he has held his form into the winter.

"He'd run some big races when he was younger," Nicks said. "He just was a horse that required a lot of patience, and it shows that if you give the horse the time he needs, he can come back and reward you."

Howard has Private Gift in Truly Bound

Eight fillies and mares, including trainer Neil Howard's first starter of the meet, were entered Wednesday in Saturday's Truly Bound Handicap for older female dirt route horses.

Howard, a Fair Grounds regular who is basing his stable at Oaklawn this winter, entered Private Gift, a regally bred Unbridled filly who has won a maiden and three allowance races but has yet to break through in a stakes. In her most recent start, a Churchill allowance, Private Gift won by a half-length over Culinary, who won the off-the-turf Furl Sail Handicap here last weekend and was entered back in the Truly Bound. Trainer Mike Stidham said he planned to study the Truly Bound's field before deciding whether Culinary would start.

Others in the race include Ballroom Deputy and La Reason, both of whom should be among the favorites, and Slewpy Storm, Lucky Sabre, Freei, and Go Girlfriend Go.