06/25/2009 12:00AM

Sligo Joe sharp for optional claimer


A seasoned Sligo Joe will meet promising 3-year-old Atlantic Slick in the seventh race at Louisiana Downs. To be run at about 7 1/2 furlongs on turf, the $20,000 optional claimer with second-level allowance conditions is one of two high-end overnight races on the card. In the second race, trainer Ronny Werner ships in Cocktail Clarence from Churchill for a first-level allowance sprint for horses bred in Louisiana.

Sligo Joe is a five-time winner in the midst of a strong meet. He earned a career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 96 two starts ago, when he won a $10,000 starter allowance route that was rained off the turf May 24. Sligo Joe was back on the grass for his last start and he rallied for second in a $30,000 optional claimer at about 1o1/16 miles on June 7. Don Simington was aboard the 4-year-old for both races and again has the call from trainer Jerry Cart.

Atlantic Slick's talent emerged during the Fair Grounds meet, when he won his maiden and a first-level allowance in back-to-back turf starts in February and March. In his most recent start, Atlantic Slick faced older horses for the first time, running fifth as the favorite in a $30,000 optional claimer on turf May 15. Patrick Valenzuela has the mount for trainer Morris Nicks.

Cocktail Clarence, who was the runner-up in the $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Juvenile last December at Fair Grounds, will be making his first start in six months in the second race. Another top contender is Captain Silver, who cuts back to one-turn for the six-furlong allowance. The last time he ran at the distance, he was second in the $50,000 Free's Spirit's Joy Stakes on May 16.