05/13/2004 12:00AM

Rogers still has faith Oglala Sue is a runner


Trainer Mike Rogers spent $75,000 to claim Oglala Sue for owner Anthony Lenci in February. Although she was beaten nearly 18 lengths in her only start for her new connections, Rogers isn't ready to write off Oglala Sue as a bad investment just yet.

Rather than looking to cut his losses by dropping her sharply in class, Rogers has confidently entered Oglala Sue in Saturday's $75,000 Sweet N Sassy Handicap at Delaware Park.

She is in a field that includes Cupid Season, a five-time winner for trainer Allen Iwinski last season; Umpadeedle, winner of the Primonetta at Pimlico in her last start; and possibly the multiple stakes winner Bronze Abe. Trainer Bud Delp cross-entered Bronze Abe in a turf stakes at Pimlico on Friday.

Although Rogers is not sure Oglala Sue is set for a peak performance, he is optimistic the 6-year-old mare has plenty of good races left in her.

"We took her for her abilities as a racehorse," Rogers said. "I don't think she's done. If at some point we have to take the route of turning her into a broodmare, we'll do that, but right now she's going to keep racing."

During a career in which she has won 8 of 25 starts and $229,322, Oglala Sue did some of her best racing at Horsemen's Park in Omaha, Neb., where she won three minor stakes. She also finished third in last summer's Grade 3 Chicago Breeders' Cup Handicap at Arlington Park.

Rogers said Oglala Sue's ninth-place finish in Gulfstream Park's Banshee Breeze Handicap at 1 1/16 miles five weeks ago was not a true indication of her talent.

"I really regret running her, but there was absolutely nothing for her at Gulfstream, and I wanted to get a race into her," said Rogers, who believes Oglala Sue is better suited to the six furlongs of the Sweet N Sassy.

"My only concerns are how she will handle the track and how she will do after being off for quite a while. But she's a good closing sprinter."

As an owner-trainer combination, Lenci and Rogers are 4 for 11 with an excellent $3.18 return on investment this year. Among their successful claims are Mile, a 5-year-old gelding who won a turf stakes last season, and 4-year-old filly Pokerfaced, who cleared her first two allowance conditions last year.

* Delaware's turf course is scheduled to open on May 29 with a maiden race for 3-year-old fillies and a $35,000 allowance race, both at 1 1/16 miles.