07/02/2005 12:00AM

Rider edge to Waupaca on turf


Waupaca is a usually a front-runner, but he can stalk. Trainer Donnie Von Hemel will leave the pace decisions to E.J. Perrodin on Saturday when the jockey rides Waupaca in the $50,000 Independence Handicap.

"I think when you leg [Perrodin] up at Louisiana Downs on the turf, you don't say anything," said Von Hemel. "You just leg him up."

Perrodin's success on the local course has been well documented through the years, and already this meet he has won 3 of the 7 grass stakes. He also won last year's Independence, aboard Sea Dub.

This year, Waupaca will face eight others in the 1 1/16-mile turf race, including Crowned King, a two-time stakes winner at the meet; Tromp, who has won his last three starts; and Gigawatt, who returns to the region after racing in Kentucky.

Waupaca will vie for favoritism on the strength of his close fourth-place finish last out in the $200,000 Dallas Turf Cup at 1 1/8 miles at his Lone Star Park base June 18. He will shorten up in distance for the Independence, run on a course where he is 4 for 6 lifetime.

"He's been very fortunate there," Von Hemel said of Louisiana Downs. "That's kind of what we're thinking. We can get over there where he really likes it, and distance is on our side, too."

Waupaca has speed and that will serve him well from post 2. Breaking to his inside is Crowned King, who is co-highweighted with Waupaca at 118 pounds. Crowned King has won a dirt and a turf stakes at the meet, including the $50,000 Alliance on the grass April 30. Trainer Billy McKeever has given the mount to Luis Quinonez.

Tromp has been on a roll, winning his maiden for a claiming price of $30,000, then stepping up and taking two allowance races. He is a half-brother to Stroll, a Grade 1 winner on turf who earned $795,071, and Patrol, a winner of the Dallas Turf Cup who has earned $401,320.

Tromp races for his breeder, Claiborne Farm. Al Stall Jr. trains, Jose Riquelme will ride.

Gigawatt won the $60,000 Louisiana Handicap at Fair Ground last December. He is making his first start for trainer Steve Asmussen.

Northern Scene has won 4 of 7 starts on the turf at Louisiana Downs.