02/23/2002 12:00AM

Repent and Take Charge Lady coming back

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NEW ORLEANS - Repent and Take Charge Lady are on schedule for a return trip to New Orleans, trainer Ken McPeek said on Saturday. Repent won the Grade 3 Risen Star and Take Charge Lady the Grade 3 Silverbul-letday when they shipped here from McPeek's Gulfstream Park base to race on Feb. 16 and 17.

The pair flew back to Florida on Tuesday, but will probably fly back on March 7, Take Charge Lady for the Fair Grounds Oaks on March 9 and Repent for the Louisiana Derby a day later.

"Both horses will come back, so long as they go as well as they went the last couple days," McPeek said. "I'm thrilled with them. They're no worse for the wear, and I couldn't be happier."

Take Charge Lady equaled a track record for 1 1/16 miles winning the Silverbulletday by 8 1/2 lengths. Repent ran almost a second slower, but cemented his position as a leading Kentucky Derby contender with a 2 1/4-length win in the Risen Star.

In the days after the Risen Star, McPeek toyed with the idea of sending Repent to Dubai for his next race, but by midweek had scrapped that plan and said Repent would race in either the Louisiana Derby or the Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park.

McPeek said both horses, as they did before their last races here, would have their final works at Gulfstream before shipping. McPeek plans on retaining the same riders for his horses, Jon Court on Take Charge Lady and Tony D'Amico on Repent.

Smilin' Slew back in turf route

Sometimes you'll hear a trainer talking off the cuff about a horse who "moved up 20 lengths" from start to start. Well, Smilin' Slew really did.

Beaten Jan. 10 by almost 19 lengths in his first start back from a layoff, Smilin' Slew returned a month later and lost by a nose. A drop in claiming price, from $75,000 to $50,000, might have helped, but there's little doubt Smilin' Slew gained a world of condition from his first start of the season.

He is back for the same claiming price in the Fair Grounds Monday feature and it's a safe bet Smilin' Slew won't be the 31-1 this time around that he was in the nose loss.

Smilin' Slew, trained by Spanky Broussard, faces a field of seven others going about 1 1/16 miles on turf. The maximum number of starters on the Fair Grounds grass was reduced to eight starting Thursday as the track seeks to revitalize the deteriorated inner portion of the course.

There are a couple other serious contenders if the race stays on grass, and two prime win threats if rain moves it to the main track.

Neki closed like a wild horse to win in a second-level allowance/optional claimer here Dec. 22 in his first start since July. He was sixth in the Colonel Bradley Handicap when the race was rained off turf, then made up more than five lengths in the stretch run, but had to settle for sixth when facing better horses here Feb. 3.

Four on the Floor finished just in front of Neki in that same heat, and, as evidenced by seven wins in 16 starts, is an honest grass horse.

Prince Iroquois and Baker Road, both recent claims, stand to benefit if rain forces a move to the main track.