09/02/2005 11:00PM

Prelude proving ground for Royal Saint


A star is born? It's possible.

Royal Saint will get tested for class Monday at Louisiana Downs, when he makes his stakes debut in the $50,000 Prelude. The 1 1/16-mile race is the track's prep for its Grade 2, $750,000 Super Derby on Oct. 1.

Royal Saint is one of eight in a competitive Prelude. Stakes winners in the field are Silver Haze, Jazzy Gallop, and Key Issues. They will offer a challenge to Royal Saint, who has reeled off three wins in three starts this meet: a 6 1/4-length maiden win May 22; a six-furlong allowance win June 12; and a five-length win in his two-turn debut last out, July 29.

"That was a tough race, and he showed that he can get the two turns," said Cole Norman, who trains Royal Saint and has won three runnings of the Prelude.

Norman has been preparing Royal Saint for the Prelude, the target for a while. With the right performance, Royal Saint will advance to the Super Derby, Norman said.

"I think he needs to be one-two-three, put on a good show," he said. "We expect him to improve off that allowance race. If he were to go the other way, we don't need to be in the Super Derby. But I think that he's going to improve, and that's our goal, to wind up in the Super Derby."

The winner of the Prelude gets a berth into the Super Derby.

Royal Saint will break from post 5, under Guy Smith.

Norman will also run the uncoupled Lightsnatcher, a Texas-bred stakes winner at 6 1/2 furlongs in his last start July 9.

Silver Haze, like Royal Saint, is perfect in three starts at Louisiana Downs this meet. But all of Silver Haze's wins came on turf, two in stakes, the $50,000 Excalibur and the $50,000 Bossier City Handicap.

Silver Haze also has fared well on dirt. He is a two-time winner on the main track, and in his last start he was a close fourth in the Grade 2 Ohio Derby at Thistledown on July 2. Trainer Steve Wren gave the mount to E.J. Perrodin.

* After the Monday card ends, racing will resume on Friday.