12/29/2005 12:00AM

Premier Dance on a stakes tear


The year promises to go out with a bang on Saturday at Evangeline Downs, where five 2-year-olds will line up in the $100,000 Diamond Jo Stakes, the meeting's richest race.

Heading the field for the one-mile race is Premier Dance. A winner of six of his eight starts, has won five stakes in a row, including the Lafayette Stakes here on Labor Day weekend. His most recent start, a game half-length win in the $82,000 Eddy County Stakes at Zia Park on Nov. 25, came at one mile and was his first try around two turns.

"He just does what he has to, it seems," said trainer Cody Autrey. "In his last race, the jock said, 'When I asked him, he took off running, and when they came to him, he took off running again.' "

Marlon St. Julien will ride Premier Dance, who will carry 121 pounds under the allowance conditions of the Diamond Jo.

The main threat to Premier Dance's win streak appears to be . Trained by the venerable Robert Holthus, Lawyer Ron is coming off a 10-length win in an optional claimer at a mile and 70 yards Dec. 9 at the Fair Grounds meeting at Louisiana Downs. A son of the Danzig sire Langfuhr, Lawyer Ron earned a 92 Beyer Speed Figure for that effort. Regular rider John McKee will come in to ride in his first local appearance.

Desert Wheat returns to the dirt for the first time since he mounted a furious rally but came up 1 1/4 lengths short in the El Joven at Retama Park on Sept. 3. Since that race, the Tony Richey-trained Desert Wheat has finished second in the Harrah's Juvenile at Louisiana Downs, third in the $125,000 Bourbon Stakes at Keeneland, and then won the Gentilly Stakes against Louisiana-breds at Louisiana Downs. Desert Wheat will be ridden by Jamie Theriot, who will look to exploit a potentially quick early pace.

Lake Mac Mac and Poppa Duke make their two-turn debuts in the Diamond Jo, and each could contribute to the pace scenario. Lake Mac Mac won the $125,000 Texas Stallion at Retama on Oct. 1, and Poppa Duke's best effort was a second-place finish in the Stardust Stakes at Louisiana Downs in mid-September.