07/12/2005 12:00AM

Rodeo's Castle ships for Rapid Transit

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Rodeo's Castle, who has developed into one of the best sprinters in the region since winning his maiden for a claiming price of $7,500 last October, vanned out of his Louisiana Downs base Tuesday for Canterbury Park, where he will race in the Claiming Crown, said his owner, Byron House III.

Rodeo's Castle will start in the $100,000 Rapid Transit, a 6 1/2-furlong stakes, on Saturday. He comes into the race following consecutive stakes wins at six furlongs: the $75,000 Ford Express at Lone Star in 1:07.85 on May 14, and the $50,000 Kings Court in 1:10.85 at Louisiana Downs on May 29, his last start.

"He's never gone six and a half, but he's never shown that he can't go further," said House.

House claimed Rodeo's Castle for $12,500 out of his second career start, a nonwinners-of-two-lifetime sprint he won by six lengths. Rodeo's Castle had also won his debut by 10 lengths. Both of those races were held last October at Louisiana Downs.

Following the meet, Rodeo's Castle raced at House's home track of Oaklawn. He won three races - an entry-level allowance and two optional claiming allowances - before stepping into stakes company for the first time and finishing eighth in the Grade 3, $150,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap. It was the only time Rodeo's Castle had finished worse than second in his career, and one start later he bounced back with a Beyer Speed Figure of 105 in the Ford Express. Overall, he has won 7 of 10 career starts and $154,000.

Beverly Fowler trains Rodeo's Castle, who will be ridden Saturday by Jeff Burningham.

House said he also plans to start Slade in the Claiming Crown, in the $125,000 Emerald at 1 1/16 miles on turf. Slade won an entry-level turf allowance at Louisiana Downs in May and is also trained by Fowler.

Happy Ticket to Ballerina

Happy Ticket returned to her Louisiana Downs base Monday morning following her troubled second-place finish to 1-2 favorite Madcap Escapade in the Grade 2 Princess Rooney at Calder on Sunday. The race marked the first career defeat for Happy Ticket, who was 9 for 9 heading into the Princess Rooney.

"We got beat by a great horse and were not disgraced whatsoever," said Andrew Leggio Jr., who trains Happy Ticket.

Leggio said the goal now is to prepare Happy Ticket for her next assignment, the Grade 1, $250,000 Ballerina at Saratoga Race Course on Aug. 28. Given her performance last weekend, a Grade 1 win seems in the offing for Happy Ticket.

"All she needs is the right break and a little luck, and she'll get it done," said Leggio.

Happy Ticket had anything but a clean trip in the Princess Rooney. She hesitated at the start of the six-furlong race and was forced to steady and go around horses on the backside. Happy Ticket was then hung wide around the turn and into the stretch. Despite the obstacles, she never stopped running and showed grit to finish second to Madcap Escapade, a Grade 1-winning millionaire.

"She came out of it really good," said Leggio.

Happy Ticket is a 4-year-old by Anet, and was bred in Louisiana. She races for her breeder, Stewart Madison, and has won seven stakes, including the Grade 3 Chicago Breeders' Cup one start before the Princess Rooney.

Silver Haze eyes Prelude

Silver Haze, who finished fourth last out in the Grade 2 Ohio Derby, is back at Louisiana Downs and could make his next start in the $50,000 Prelude on Sept. 5, said his trainer, Steve Wren. A 1 1/16-mile race, the Prelude is the local prep for the Grade 2, $750,000 Super Derby on Oct. 1.

"The Prelude is probably the route we'll take," said Wren, who trains Silver Haze for Kaaren Biggs.

Silver Haze has not lost this meet at Louisiana Downs, winning three turf races at the track, including the $50,000 Excalibur in May and the $50,000 Bossier City Handicap in June. Despite his turf record, he is a winner on dirt, and in addition to the Ohio Derby was a close fourth in another graded dirt race, the Grade 3 Lecomte at Fair Grounds.

* Venomous, who was second by a neck to standout colt Royal Saint last time in a conditioned allowance, is the probable favorite in the featured ninth race Thursday. The entry-level allowance will be run at six furlongs, the same distance over which Venomous won his maiden, romping by eight lengths in April. For his effort, he earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 96, a point higher than he earned last out against Royal Saint. Trainer Pat Mouton has given the mount to E.J. Perrodin.