05/07/2004 11:00PM

Spanky, 'Bayou' tough pair


STICKNEY, Ill. - For a reporter, trying to extract a straight answer from trainer Spanky Broussard is like pulling an elephant's tooth with a pair of pliers. But in the end, there is always something in there to grasp onto, beneath the false annoyance, the feigned bravado.

Broussard at heart is mostly mirth. He also has trained Thoroughbred racehorses long enough to have a fair idea which of them can run. Last season there was an unraced 2-year-old filly named Bold Bayou Baby.

Broussard said he had told the filly's owner, Joe Ladnier, "from the beginning that she could run."

It took the filly longer to tell the rest of us. Her debut, last November here at Hawthorne, was a strange one. Bold Bayou Baby dropped about a mile behind in a sprint race, charging home to finish second. But she sputtered in her next two races, both at Fair Grounds. Off for six weeks, Bold Bayou Baby emerged in a $50,000 maiden claimer. She won by almost four lengths, running a sizzling time for the class level, and she came back less than three weeks later to beat a nice horse named Everheart in an entry-level allowance.

Until now, Broussard hasn't been able to get Bold Bayou Baby back into a race, but she runs Monday at Hawthorne in the featured sixth race, a second-level allowance at six furlongs. Bold Bayou Baby is a 3-year-old facing five older horses, but she can still win.

"She ought to be able to run," Broussard said. "She's an expensive filly."

This little nugget came out over the telephone. It was not hard to picture Broussard working hard to suppress a grin. Bold Bayou Baby, bred in Arkansas, fetched all of $2,700 at a Louisiana horse auction in 2002.

"Joe saw her in the catalog. He said if she doesn't bring $7,500, buy her," Broussard explained.

Consider it money well spent. Bettors looking to put down some of their own can choose between Broussard's 3-year-old and the Christine Janks comeback horse, Rich City Girl. Rich City Girl debuted about a year ago at Arlington, finishing second to the nice filly Lease-

holder's Dream before easily winning her next two starts.

Janks's has had an outstanding meet here, winning with 10 of 37 starters, many coming back from layoffs.