10/31/2002 1:00AM

Ruling Star steps up once again in Excalibur

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Ruling Star, who has won all four of his starts this meet at Louisiana Downs, climbing the class ladder with each race, will try to become a stakes winner Saturday in the track's $30,000 Excalibur.

His task will not be easy. The seven-furlong race for 3-year-olds drew a competitive group, including stakes winners Richest Half and De Real Deal, as well as the talented Ole Rebel.

Still, it is tough to fault Ruling Star. He has not made a wrong move since he returned to Louisiana Downs from Calder Race Course in August, using his tactical speed to win two claiming races, a conditioned allowance, and an optional claimer this meet at Louisiana Downs.

"He's cleaned up every time we put him out there," said Cole Norman, who trains Ruling Star. "He loves this track. He loved it last year as a 2-year-old. He just seems to get over it well."

Leading rider Gerard Melancon has the call on Ruling Star.

Asmussen covers all bases

No matter the pace, trainer Steve Asmussen can get them coming or going in the $30,000 Jiffy Lube Stakes at Sam Houston Race Park on Saturday night. The trainer will send out the speed horse Asheville in the 1 1/16-mile turf race for fillies and mares, as well as the closer Euryanthe.

The Jiffy Lube is the first of 38 stakes to be run this meet at Sam Houston.

Euryanthe has had little pace to chase in her last two starts, but did well to close for second two back in an optional claimer. One start later, she closed into sluggish fractions to finish fourth in the $30,000 Old South Handicap at Louisiana Downs. She has worked sharply since, and will be ridden by Donnie Meche.

Casey Lambert has the call on Asheville, who seems to have more natural speed than most of her rivals, making her a wire-to-wire threat. In her last start, she raced close to a hot pace and finished second, beaten three-quarters of a length on yielding turf in an allowance at Retama Park.

Another horse to consider is Golden Rhythm, who goes for her third straight win. In her most recent out, she stalked a slow pace early before driving to a head win in the Old South. Don Simington has the return call for trainer Paul Murphy.

Roman Chapa will ride Pleasant State, who will be one to reckon with if she runs back to her second-place finish to Queen of Wilshire in the $200,000 WinStar Distaff at Lone Star Park on May 27.

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