03/26/2009 12:00AM

Sax Appeal shooting for a repeat


NEW ORLEANS - Closing weekend at the Fair Grounds features five stakes races, all for Louisiana-bred horses. There are four stakes on Saturday's card, topped by the Happy Ticket, and one on Sunday, the Red Camelia.

The Happy Ticket, the first stakes on Saturday, looks to have drawn the strongest field. It is carded as the fifth race at 5 1/2 furlongs on the main track, and the field of seven fillies and mares include last year's winner, Sax Appeal.

Sax Appeal comes into the race seven weeks after her 1 1/2-length victory in the $100,000 Premier Night Matron at Delta Downs. While the time between races is according to the plan of her trainer, Steve Asmussen, he worries that she will have to carry the highest weight in the field, 124 pounds.

"She's a small filly picking up a lot of weight. I'm concerned about that," said Asmussen. "But she does well with time between races, and she's run sharp off of breaks in the past."

Sax Appeal will meet Very Sexcessful, who won the Louisiana Futurity in December of 2007 in her career debut. She was injured in her second race, last year's Happy Ticket. She underwent stem cell therapy treatment, in which a horse's own stem cells are injected into an injured area to promote healing.

"She hurt herself leaving the gate," said trainer Patrick Mouton. "We injected stem cells and gave her the year off, and she's doing really well."

Very Sexcessful finished second in her comeback race, a first-level allowance on March 1 at the Fair Grounds. She set the pace that day before being beaten a length.

"I was both satisfied and a little disappointed with the race," said Mouton. "I thought I had her tight enough to win."

Very Sexcessful and Sax Appeal will have to contend with Dancing Rebecca, who has won all four of her starts, including three this meet.

Jackson: Ide Like a Double returning

In the John Jackson Memorial, older sprinters will lace up their shoes once again, with a field of 10 very familiar foes squaring off at 5 1/2 furlongs.

John Charles has been the best of late, with a victory two races ago in the Premier Night Sprint at Delta Downs, where he beat Caesars March by two lengths.

Ide Like a Double, 4, has already bankrolled more than $300,000, but has been off since Aug. 16, when he came from off the pace to beat older horses in the Evangeline Mile Handicap.

While his best race came going a mile, he has several sharp works in preparation for his comeback race, and has won twice at this distance, including an 11-length victory in the slop.

Crescent City Derby: No clear choice

The Crescent City Derby, at 1 1/16 miles on the main track, has drawn a field of 13 and looks to have several 3-year-olds capable of winning.

Or, as Al Stall, the trainer of two of the entrants and the master of understatement, puts it, "It's a very wide-open race."

Stall will send the uncoupled Mr. R.B.I. and Dessy, who finished second and third in a first-level allowance race here on March 7.

Mr. R.B.I. nearly got the job done. He was four wide and clear in the stretch before being caught by Wing a Ding, who returns here as well.

"We were disappointed that we didn't win last time," said Stall, "but hopefully we'll have a little better trip this time."

Stall's other starter, Dessy, finished 1 3/4 lengths behind Mr. R.B.I. that day and has seven in-the-money finishes from nine career starts, but only one victory.

The most likely candidate for victory is Milwaukee Miracle, who won the Gentilly Stakes here on Feb. 28, coming from seven lengths back to prevail by 2 1/2 lengths over Smoothcideup, who also returns here.

Crescent City Oaks: Filly stretching

The Crescent City Oaks for 3-year-old fillies is carded as the seventh race, and has drawn a field of nine.

Warrior Maid, who has three wins and a second from four starts, will try to route for the first time. Her last race was her longest, as she won the seven-furlong $125,000 Premier Night Starlet at Delta Downs on Feb. 7, defeating Wanna Cuddle, who returned to win the Sarah Lane's Oates.

Warrior Maid will face Plea, who has two wins and a second from three starts. She last raced March 8, winning a first-level allowance going a mile over the Fair Grounds main track.