02/05/2004 1:00AM

Sprint pits emerging star vs. talented vet


Toby's Success, a new player in the Louisiana-bred sprint division, will make his stakes debut Saturday night against the accomplished Zarb's Luck in the $100,000 Louisiana Premier Night Sprint. The five-furlong race is one of 10 stakes worth a cumulative $1 million at Delta Downs in Vinton, La.

The biggest purse on the program is the $200,000 Louisiana Premier Night Championship, which is headed by Spritely Walker. The race is the final leg of a pick four that will have a guaranteed pool of $25,000. There is a mandatory payout on the wager, which will begin with the fifth race, the $125,000 Starlet.

In his last start, Toby's Success signaled his place among the best sprinters in the state when he set a track record for 5 1/2 furlongs at Fair Grounds. He covered the distance in 1:03.20 and earned a 108 Beyer Speed Figure.

That figure is the highest lifetime number of any horse in the Sprint, and it comes from the most inexperienced horse in the field. Toby's Success has made just three career starts, with his maiden win coming in December. He set the track record one start later, Jan. 26.

"The ability is there," said Troy Young, who trains Toby's Success for Valene Farms.

Young said Toby's Success is a sensible gelding whose maturity belies his limited number of starts. Young also said that Toby's Success has been receptive to his recent training lessons.

"We've been working with him to slow him down a little the first part and let him finish," said Young. "He worked in 1:03 [before his last start] and came home the last eighth in 11 and 1. That's what we've been working on with this horse."

The lessons are timely. Toby's Success drew post 6 in the Sprint, outside of the two other speed horses, Zarb's Luck, who drew the rail, and Believe Im Special, who drew post 2.

Gerard Melancon will ride Toby's Success, and Shane Sellers will ride Zarb's Luck. Ricky Faul will be aboard Believe Im Special.

Two races ago, Zarb's Luck won the $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Sprint at Fair Grounds for the second straight year. He will be cutting back to one turn Saturday after finishing second around two turns in the $50,000 Cypress. A winner of $423,605, Zarb's Luck races for Scott Boudreaux and trainer Edward Johnston.

Believe Im Special, who set a track record for five furlongs earlier this meet when he won the $40,000 Racino Inaugural, is a threat to the top two. He is trained by Thomas Sam.

Home field advantage for 'Prized'

Prized Amberpro returns to one of her favorite tracks in the $150,000 Distaff. The one-mile race drew seven fillies and mares, and favoritism should lie with Destiny Calls. In her last start, Destiny Calls defeated Prized Amberpro by 3 3/4 lengths in a statebred allowance at Fair Grounds.

Prized Amberpro, a winner of $529,877, will attempt to turn the tables Saturday.

"She ran four or five wide the whole way around the track last time," said John Gelner, who trains Prized Amberpro. "When you do that, you're spotting them four or five lengths. It was a matter or racing luck."

Gelner said Prized Amberpro, who is 7, has thrived since her last race.

"She acts like she's a 2-year-old," he said. "She just feels so good. You gallop her and she comes off the track bucking. She's unbelievable. I think she'll be double tough."

Gelner also said Prized Amberpro likes Delta, where she has finished in the money in nine of 10 starts. C.J. Woodley has the mount for Linda Patch and Joseph Thomas.

* The Starlet and Prince will both match 3-year-old stakes winners at seven furlongs, which is a two-turn race at Delta. The purse for each race is $125,000.

In the Starlet, Placid Star, who has won both of her career starts, will take on Rose of Sophia, who won the $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Lassie. One race later, in the Prince, Walk This Way, winner of the $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Juvenile, will take on Arcus, winner of the $75,000 Crescent City Derby.