02/04/2005 12:00AM

Risen Star lures nice trio


NEW ORLEANS - The road to the Louisiana Derby gets serious next week as trainers from around the country are making plans to send their 3-year-olds to Fair Grounds to run in the Feb. 12 Risen Star Stakes, the local prep for the Louisiana Derby.

Three colts with serious reputations are expected to ship in late next week. Trainer Todd Pletcher is sending the unbeaten Harlington in after the Unbridled colt won an entry-level allowance race at Gulfstream Park.

Trainer Patrick Biancone is bringing Scipion from Santa Anita along with jockey Gary Stevens. An A.P. Indy colt, Scipion finished third in an allowance race while making his first start since October.

Golden Gate Derby winner Buzzard's Bay is a supplementary nominee from trainer Jeff Mullins.

The locally based contingent is headed by Storm Surge, winner of the Lecomte Stakes in his last start. Trained by Dallas Stewart, Storm Surge got his first victory around two turns in the Lecomte.

Rush Bay will be making his first start since finishing second in the Kentucky Jockey Club in November.

Smooth Bid ran a strong second to Storm Surge in the Lecomte and should be even tighter for this match.

"He's training well," said trainer Steve Asmussen, who sent Smooth Bid out for a six-furlong work in 1:14.60 Tuesday. "But I'm no more confident about this race than I was before the Lecomte. It's a much tougher race."

Queen of Mecca still solid at 8

The 8-year-old turf mare Queen of Mecca will take on nine rivals in the feature race on Sunday's Super Bowl card, a $40,000 optional claimer for fillies and mares at 5 1/2 furlongs on the grass.

The Joseph Petalino-trained Queen of Mecca won 4 of 10 starts as a 7-year-old and finished third as the favorite in a similar race on Jan. 16. Two starts back, Queen of Mecca won an optional claiming turf sprint here.

The two mares who finished in front of her on Jan. 16 are both returning here. Ladoma notched her second consecutive pacesetting victory over the course in that race. Carolyn Frances ran on well to be second. Two starts back, she finished third in Queen of Mecca's optional claiming win

Ladoma is likely to have company on the lead this time out. Bonanza Jellybean is a one-dimensional front-runner who usually quits, but not before arguing or setting the pace into the stretch. Get Set only ran once on turf, but is a brilliantly fast filly who has turned in two bullet works for her first start since August.

Granny's Pride is a speedster who is coming off a four-length score in a turf sprint over this course and has only finished off the board once in five grass starts.

Sahmkindawonderful followed a turf score with a solid third in an off-the-grass race in the slop at Fair Grounds.