02/12/2009 12:00AM

Rolling Sea powers into Chou Croute


NEW ORLEANS - Rolling Sea has found her stride again lately, and that could mean rough waters for all others entered in Saturday's Chou Croute Handicap at Fair Grounds.

Though the field of six is talented, Rolling Sea brings a class advantage, an affinity for Fair Grounds, and a two-stakes win streak into the 1 1/16-mile affair, carded as the ninth race.

In her last race, the Truly Bound Handicap, Rolling Sea was impressive as she dominated Bear Now to win by 5 1/2 lengths.

Rolling Sea has won 4 of her 5 starts at Fair Grounds.

"She's done extremely well at the Fair Grounds," said her trainer, Steve Asmussen. "She ran as nice the other day as she ever has."

High praise, considering Asmussen trained her to victories in two Grade 2 races - the 2007 Allaire duPont Distaff at Pimlico, and the 2007 Chilukki at Churchill Downs.

Rolling Sea went to the shelf after her victory in the Chilukki, and did not look like her old self in her first six races after that.

She began her win streak two races ago at Delta Downs in the $100,000 Treasure Chest, winning by a head in a stretch duel with Unforgotten, who is also entered in the Chou Croute.

"I'm glad to see her back running well," said Asmussen. "Somehow, some way, I wasn't doing right by her, but now she is back on track."

Her chief rivals appear to be the extremely consistent Unforgotten, and Smart Surprise, who has won 3 of her last 4 starts.

Unforgotten has finished in the money in 10 of her last 13 races, but has only two wins during that time. Still, her competition was stiff, as she has run against Leah's Secret and Ginger Punch, among others.

"She shows a winning desire all the time," said Dallas Stewart, who trains Unforgotten. "She's very honest, tries hard no matter where she is or who she's in against."

Smart Surprise began her career with consistency but frustrating results, finishing second or third in 10 consecutive maiden special weight starts. She was moved into Josie Carroll's barn last summer, and has won 3 of 4 since, including a half-length victory in her last race, the seven-furlong Bessarbian Stakes on Nov. 23 at Woodbine.

All of her victories have been over the Woodbine Polytrack, though she does have a string of works over the Fair Grounds main track.