12/10/2009 12:00AM

Superior Storm has key rival


Superior Storm beat Proud Spell, champion 3-year-old filly of 2008. She finished second to Seventh Street and in front of Acoma in the Grade 1 Apple Blossom. Her most recent race came against top-class turf fillies in a Grade 1 at Keeneland. So, Saturday's $100,000 Louisiana Champions Day Ladies ought to be easy pickings.

Superior Storm will be an odds-on favorite when she faces seven rivals in the 1 1/16-mile Ladies, a race she won last year when Superior Storm was fighting foot problems. Superior Storm has won 13 of her 21 starts, and has earned more than $801,000 as she closes in on her fifth birthday. In six races at Saturday's distance, she has won five times.

But a study of Superior Storm's form reveals one nagging detail: She won her last Louisiana-bred stakes start, on Aug. 1 at Louisiana Downs, by a diminishing head. The filly who almost caught her, Miss Bean Wah, is back in the Ladies, and Miss Bean Wah probably prefers racing around two turns at Fair Grounds to anything else.

"She does really well at Fair Grounds," trainer Al Stall said. "We kept her fresh all summer. If Superior Storm doesn't run her best, we might have a shot."

That's a big "if," but since the one horse will be less than 3-5, the other greater than 5-1, it's something to consider.

Wanna Cuddle also might be set for a decent performance. She rallied for second in a sprint race Nov. 15 at Fair Grounds, and won in her only other two-turn start.

Turf: Desert Wheat tries again

When Desert Wheat won the $100,000 Champions Day Turf in 2006 as a 3-year-old, one could imagine the horse capturing the race every season for years to come. But it hasn't happened that way. Desert Wheat finished third in the 2007 Turf, then was a close second last year, and if he is to win the 2009 Turf, Desert Wheat will have to overcome a wide post, and avoid bouncing off a top effort.

All that is possible. Desert Wheat drew the outside post in a 10-horse field, but if the race is on turf, Ide Like a Double probably will be scratched in favor of the Classic. That would move Desert Wheat in one slot, and it was from post 9 that the Bill Mott-trained 6-year-old cruised to a Nov. 14 victory in the Mr. Sulu Stakes. But last year, Desert Wheat also won the Mr. Sulu before finishing second to Wildrally in the Champions Day Turf, and Wildrally has a chance again Saturday.

In the Mr. Sulu, Wildrally had a near-impossible task breaking from post 12. He pressed the pace and faded late, an uninspiring run, but one that might have Wildrally set for his best Saturday.

Nowandforevermore and Lee's Spirit, second and third to Desert Wheat in the Mr. Sulu, also were entered.

Desert Wheat still figures if the Turf is rained onto dirt: His win in the 2008 Mr. Sulu came on the Fair Grounds main track.

Sprint: Flashy Wise Cat gets hot pace

Flashy Wise Cat had a hot pace at which to run, and seemed to thrive in his first start at long-stretch Fair Grounds, a victory in a Nov. 14 allowance prep for the $100,000 Champions Day Sprint. The Fair Grounds homestretch hasn't changed length - and the pace in the Sprint may be just as ferocious Saturday, giving Flashy Wise Cat a chance to win again.

Based in central Louisiana with trainer Troy Young, Flashy Wise Cat had raced only at Evangeline Downs until last month. He showed ability there, but turned in a career-best performance in his recent win. The Fair Grounds configuration helped, and Young also believes Flashy Wise Cat is a cool-weather horse.

Mr. Porter, a four-time Fair Grounds winner, is in good form, and also should be rallying behind fast fractions.

Juvenile: Red rally tough

Red Rally failed to show his best on Nov. 6 at Delta Downs, finishing second as the 1-2 favorite in the Louisiana Legacy Stakes.

"Delta can be a hard racetrack for horses to run on," said trainer Merrill Scherer. "Either you like it or you don't."

Red Rally apparently did not, but if he likes Fair Grounds better, he will be tough to beat in the $100,000 Juvenile. Red Rally has a coupled entry-mate in Devilish Due - another contender - and Scherer said he was likely to start both horses.

Red Rally has enough talent to have won an allowance race at the Saratoga meet. He has run well in all three of his dirt sprints, and anything close to his best will make Red Rally hard to deny Saturday.

Lassie: Looking wide open

Scherer has two more for the $100,000 Lassie, a total toss-up of a race. Scherer believes Oh Whata Holiday will turn out to be a better horse than Hunt for Candie, but Hunt for Candie is more experienced, and has a win over the Fair Grounds track.

So does Speedacious, who clocked a 5 1/2 furlongs winning an opening-day maiden race at this meet. Shezacrazygirl enters the Lassie 2 for 2, with a recent two-turn Louisiana-bred sprint-stakes win at Delta.

Ladies Sprint: Seven Seventythree to hang back

With pace factors galore, the speed could completely melt down in the $100,000 Ladies Sprint. There's little question that Seven Seventythree will race far behind the early leaders - and that could turn out to be a good thing.

The horse to beat in the Ladies is Master Link, who had a terrible trip in a local allowance prep for the stakes.