08/29/2005 11:00PM

Royal Saint marches in for Norman

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Trainer Cole Norman has won the Prelude three times before.

Royal Saint has breezed through his conditions this meet at Louisiana Downs, and on Monday he will attempt to give his trainer, Cole Norman, a fourth win in the $50,000 Prelude Stakes. The 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-olds is the local prep for the Grade 2, $750,000 Super Derby.

Norman won last year's Prelude with South Africa, and also captured the race in 1999 with Brassy Wells and in 1998 with Code Six.

"This is our fourth Prelude we're going after, and I think this is my best shot," said Norman.

Royal Saint has won all three of his starts at Louisiana Downs, and overall is 3 for 4. He won his maiden at the track in May, when he stalked and pounced his way to a 6 1/4-length win in a six-furlong race that went in 1:11.36. A month later, Royal Saint was a neck winner of a six-furlong conditioned allowance, leading throughout to cover the distance in 1:10.09.

He returned on July 29 and made his two-turn debut, tracking the pace before drawing clear by five lengths in a mile and 70-yard race. Royal Saint earned a Beyer Figure of 92.

"He's just getting better and better every race," said Norman. "He does what he has to. If you work him by himself, he's not going to give you the bullet work. But if you put him there in company with somebody and he has to outwork them, he'll give you a bullet work. But he does what he has to. He'll fight for a win."

Norman was long looking forward to running Royal Saint around two turns. He is a son of Saint Ballado, and his dam is a half-sister to both Louis Quatorze, who won the Preakness in 1996, and Royal Indy, who won the Grade 1 Gazelle at 1 1/8 miles at Belmont in 1997.

"He's very tall, long-bodied, like he'll run forever," Norman said of Royal Saint. "He's just one of those big, good-looking colts."

Guy Smith, the second-leading rider at Louisiana Downs, has been aboard Royal Saint for all of his starts this meet, and he has the mount in the Prelude. Norman said a strong showing in the race will send Royal Saint to the Super Derby on Oct. 1.

The Prelude is one of three stakes to be run over Labor Day weekend, during a week in which Louisiana Downs will race five days instead of the usual four.

The $50,000 Lyrique will be run on Saturday, and the $50,000 Sport City on Sunday.

Norman said he is pointing Where's Bailey for the Lyrique.

Happy Ticket in the house

Happy Ticket returned to Louisiana Downs on Monday morning following her victory in the Grade 1 Ballerina at Saratoga on Sunday. She has now won 10 of 11 career starts and $632,260. Happy Ticket began her rise in her native Louisiana, and earlier this meet won the $50,000 Suthern Accent at Louisiana Downs.

More ground for Classical Affirm

Classical Affirm, who rallied for second at 7 1/2 furlongs in his last start Aug. 4, will get a bit of additional ground to work with Thursday in the featured ninth race. The one-mile turf race is an entry-level allowance, and it drew a field of 10.

Classical Affirm won his maiden at one mile on June 19, and finished a close second at the same trip in an entry-level allowance July 4. As for the race he exits, it has since become a key one, with third-place finisher Biloxi Breeze going on to win an Evangeline Downs allowance by 4 1/2 lengths Aug. 26, and eighth-place finisher Lure the Chief taking a conditioned claimer at Louisiana Downs by 1 1/4 lengths Aug. 14.

Classical Affirm can get a stalking trip behind a few of his rivals Thursday. He is a son of Mystery Storm and Sue Gail, who won the Chapel Belle over the Louisiana Downs turf course in 1993. Classical Affirm's full brother D C Storm is a statebred stakes winner on turf and a winner of 11 races and $232,340.

Larry Robideaux trains Classical Affirm for David Beard and has given the mount to leading rider John Jacinto.

In another allowance on the card Thursday, the eighth race, Smart 'n Salty should rule as a strong choice following his runner-up finish to Premier Dance in the $50,000 Minstrel at Louisiana Downs on Aug. 13. He will face seven others in the six-furlong optional claimer. Jeff Burningham has the mount on Smart 'n Salty, whom he guided to an 11-length maiden win on July 21.