02/11/2003 1:00AM

Saintly Look going strong

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NEW ORLEANS - After watching Saintly Look work a strong five furlongs early Sunday morning, trainer Dallas Stewart said he was "leaning toward running in the Risen Star" this Sunday at Fair Grounds.

The 3-year-old Saintly Look has won two stakes at this meet, the Sugar Bowl and the Grade 3 Lecomte. The one-mile Lecomte on Jan. 25 was Saintly Look's first start around two turns, and he overcame a wide post and won going away to become a contender for the Louisiana Derby. In the week after the Lecomte, Stewart toyed with going straight to the March 9 Louisiana Derby without another race, fearing that three starts in about six weeks might tax Saintly Look. But with Saintly Look training on strongly, Stewart has all but decided to try the Risen Star.

"There's just so much time between the Lecomte and the Louisiana Derby, that's hard to do," Stewart said of not running between the two races. "But I wish there was another week in there somewhere."

Saintly Look's five-furlong move Sunday was officially timed in 1:01.20, fourth-fastest of 40 works at the distance.

On Monday, Risen Star hopeful Badge of Silver turned in another dazzling workout, going five furlongs in 1:00.20 with Robby Albarado up. Badge of Silver had a major seven-furlong work last week, and this was to be an easier breeze with the Risen Star just six days away, but his work was the fastest of 43 at the distance.

"I'm telling you, we didn't let him go at all," said trainer Ronny Werner. "He just did that as easily as could be."

The Risen Star will be Badge of Silver's first stakes race and first start around two turns. Unbeaten in two races, Badge of Silver returned from a long injury layoff here Jan. 23 with a tremendous victory in a six-furlong race. He won by seven lengths, and his time of 1:09.70 earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 108.

Badge of Silver's pedigree slants toward stamina as much as speed, and Werner has been training Badge of Silver to race around two turns. Monday, he had Albarado gallop the colt hard into the clubhouse turn before the official work began. Then Albarado geared Badge of Silver down turning into the backstretch before asking the horse to pick up the pace as he approached the work's starting point.

"He needs to know what it is to hit that first turn," Werner said. "Right now, I think he could sit off the pace. I think he could do it either way. We'll see in the race."

As of Monday, a field of 12 or 13 was expected for the Grade 3 Risen Star. On Tuesday trainer Todd Pletcher said he had decided to send Indy Dancer to the Risen Star, rather than keeping him in Florida for the Fountain of Youth on Saturday. Deep Shadow, a maiden winner on turf, will ship in from Santa Anita for trainer D. Wayne Lukas. The other probables are Canaan Land, Crowned King, Defreres Vixen, Gentlemen J J, Leo's Last Hurrahy, Lone Star Sky, Prince Alphie, Seattle Hoofer, and Winning Fans.

Silverbulletday coming up light

The undefeated Tiffany Lass winner, Lady Tak, is passing the race, and none of trainer Bob Baffert's three nominees will be shipping in, so Saturday's Silverbulletday Stakes is coming up fairly soft. Soft, that is, for a Grade 2 race that the standout filly Take Charge Lady won last season.

A field of seven or eight is expected for the 1 1/16-mile Silverbulletday. Allspice, second to Lady Tak in the Tiffany Lass, could be a mild favorite. The stakes winner Belle of Perintown, who nearly flipped in the starting gate before the Tiffany Lass, will be entered if she works satisfactorily this week. Trainers Bret Calhoun and Steve Asmussen each could enter two horses: Calhoun has Rebridled Dreams and Afternoon Dreams, Asmussen has Souris and Arrival Time. Golden Marlin shipped here from Turfway Park two weeks ago, has two works over the track, and is a definite starter.

Sunday, trainer Josie Carroll said Handpainted won't run in the Silverbulletday. One of the best 2-year-old fillies in Canada last year, Handpainted hasn't raced since September. She has turned in three swift works here, including five furlongs in 59 seconds on Feb. 3, but Carroll said Handpainted isn't yet ready to race.

"She's doing great. She's really been gung ho and wants to do more," Carroll said. "We're trying to slow her down and get some more base in her."

Carroll would prefer not to start Handpainted in the March 8 Fair Grounds Oaks after a layoff, but might wind up doing so. "I hate to run her in a race like that without a prep, but maybe we will," she said.

Posse rebounds with track record

Posse set a Fair Grounds track record in Monday's seventh race when he ran five furlongs in 57.35 seconds. The old record at the rarely run distance was 57.50 seconds.

Racing for the first time since a dismal showing in the Great State Challenge Juvenile in early December, Posse rated just off the early pace, moved up around the turn without any encouragement from jockey Corey Lanerie, and drew off by almost seven lengths without ever being asked for his best. Posse covered his last furlong in about 11.40 seconds.

Posse had shown immense promise early in his 2-year-old season. He won a Grade 3 stakes, and trainer Steve Asmussen believed Posse had even more ability than that. But a string of subpar efforts left Asmussen confused, and Monday's comeback race came as a relief.

"That's what we thought we were getting all along," Asmussen said. "He's shown flashes of absolute brilliance."

Asmussen said Posse may start next in the Swale Stakes at Gulfstream Park. "I know it's at seven-eighths, but he showed today he didn't need the lead to run fast."

Mineshaft to get Lasix

Trainer Neil Howard said "two miniscule drops of blood" were found coming from Mineshaft after the colt finished second Sunday in the Whirlaway Handicap. Mineshaft has never received Lasix, but he will get it for his coming workouts and will race on Lasix in the New Orleans Handicap.

Howard was quick to say that he didn't believe bleeding cost Mineshaft a win Sunday. "Don't take anything away from Balto Star," he said. "He ran a great race, and we were second-best."

"I call this a low-maintenance Lasix horse," said Howard. "It's more of an insurance policy than anything."