03/03/2004 1:00AM

With Stolen Time, derby field may hit 11

Email

NEW ORLEANS - With the news Wednesday that Stolen Time is coming from Florida, the prospective field for Sunday's Louisiana Derby swelled to 11, with the ship-ins beginning to trickle in Wednesday afternoon.

Stolen Time hasn't started since Nov. 15, when he finished third to the talented pair of Sir Oscar and Wynn Dot Comma in the Jack Price Juvenile at Calder. Subsequently, Stolen Time was privately purchased and turned over to trainer Bill Mott. Stolen Time has been training steadily for Mott at Payson Park.

Also expected to ship from Florida are two Todd Pletcher-trained horses, Pollard's Vision and Shaniko. Pollard's Vision won an entry-level allowance race the last time he ran; Shaniko finished second in one. John Velazquez, who had his pick of mounts, is scheduled to ride Pollard's Vision.

From California come Borrego and Wimbledon; Shadowland ships in from Oaklawn Park; and Indian War Dance, who has made all six of his starts in New York, has been training at Fair Grounds the last several weeks. His trainer, Richard Dutrow Jr., employed the same ship-early strategy with Saint Liam, who nearly won the New Orleans Handicap last weekend.

That leaves four locals, headed by Gradepoint, the Risen Star Stakes winner, and Fire Slam, who took the Jan. 24 Lecomte Stakes in his last start. Breakaway, like Gradepoint trained by Neil Howard, is scheduled to make his stakes debut, while Nightlifeatbigblue, third in the Risen Star, completes the local contingent.

With only four career starts, and just one at two turns, Nightlifeatbigblue might be overlooked Sunday. But his performance in the Risen Star was very solid for a horse of his inexperience, and his development since that race has impressed trainer Bobby Barnett.

"He's coming up to this the right way," Barnett said Wednesday morning. "At the sixteenth pole in the Risen Star, it looked like they were going to leave him behind, but he came back on."

Nightlifeatbigblue set the pace that day, but Barnett expects to see him come from behind in the Louisiana Derby. Nightlifeatbigblue has twice come close to being sold. Barnett said he's very pleased to continue training the colt.

"I was sure hoping he wouldn't be sold," he said. "If he keeps improving, he could be any kind of horse."

* Ashado, a Florida invader, and Victory U. S. A., in from California for Bob Baffert, will meet Shadow Cast in Saturday's $300,000 Fair Grounds Oaks. The Oaks is expected to attract a field substantially shorter than the Louisiana Derby's.

Easy work for Badge of Silver

On Sunday, Badge of Silver had his first work since his fifth-place finish in the General George Handicap at Laurel, going an easy five furlongs here under an exercise rider. Badge of Silver's work was timed in 1:04.80, but the last thing trainer Ronny Werner was looking for in the move was speed.

"He's doing good," Werner said. "He's doing really good."

Werner said Badge of Silver tentatively is scheduled to start in the Carter Handicap next month at Aqueduct.

"Nothing is etched in stone, but we're looking at that race," Werner said.

Good Humor Gal could turn tables

Love Power finished third and Good Humor Gal 10th in the $100,000 Tiffany Lass Stakes here Jan. 25, but a reversal of fortune seems possible Friday in the featured ninth race at Fair Grounds.

These two were among six 3-year-old fillies entered in an entry-level allowance carded for one mile and 40 yards on dirt. Special Deed is the lone horse entered under the race's optional claiming condition.

Love Power upset a strong maiden field here Jan. 9, and ran surprisingly well to finish third in the Tiffany Lass, but she finished sixth, beaten 13 lengths, when she tried the Silverbulletday Stakes here Feb. 14. Barnett, her trainer, sought a softer spot and found one, but Good Humor Gal is no pushover.

A wide draw and tough trip cost Good Humor Gal any real chance in the Tiffany Lass, and she bounced back with a much stronger effort in a Feb. 13 allowance race. The problem that day was the presence of Steady Course, who beat Good Humor Gal by eight lengths and who will be among the favorites Saturday in the Fair Grounds Oaks.

* Shiloh Bound, who was scratched from the Risen Star the morning of the race, returned to training last weekend and will breeze sometime in the next few days, trainer Walter Bindner said. The undefeated Shiloh Bound was lame because of foot soreness, but the gelding has gotten sound again, according to Bindner.