05/10/2005 12:00AM

Provobay takes on Blush

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BOSSIER CITY, La. - Thursday's headliner appears to be a shootout between Provobay and Blush, both of whom graduated over the turf and will attempt to clear their first condition on the allowance ladder. A field of 10 will go in the $25,500 race, which is at about one mile on the turf, with the temporary rail set at 10 feet.

, trained by Gerald Romero, narrowly failed in her first start of the year after clearing the field early in an allowance over the Lone Star turf course last month. The result was a career-best 81 Beyer Speed Figure that is tops in Thursday's field.

Gerard Melancon, away the first two weeks of the meet while battling pneumonia, returns Thursday and rides Provobay.

Like Provobay, also just missed in her most recent start, a 5 1/2-furlong turf sprint at Fair Grounds on March 24. That start was also Blush's first of the year.

Trained by Al Stall Jr., Blush will make first start around two turns on Thursday. But her pedigree - she is by Menifee - indicates that the longer the distance the better. Jose Riquelme will ride.

New rider suits Paz Ciudadana

Paz Ciudadana made a strong statement winning Honeymoon Stakes here on Saturday. Bred in Chile and now trained by Steve Asmussen, Paz Ciudadana won 2 of her first 3 starts in North America for trainer Ron McAnally in California before changing barns and shipping East.

In the Honeymoon, Paz Ciudadana dragged rider Jose Figueroa to the front on the outside on the backstretch and won by better than two lengths.

Figueroa, who gallops the mare for Asmussen, made his Louisiana Downs riding debut in the Honeymoon, partly because Paz Ciudadana's regular rider, Carlos Gonzalez, suffered a broken toe on Friday and took off the mount.

"Her past performance lines tell the story," said Asmussen. "This mare is hard to explain. She's a handful and very rank."

When Gonzalez couldn't ride, Asmussen wanted someone familiar with Paz Ciudadana on board. "When Carlos was unavailable, I decided to use Jose, since he gallops her in the mornings," he said.