06/17/2005 12:00AM

'Surprise' takes aim at repeat


BOSSIER CITY, La. - Southern Surprise, the runner-up in last season's Fleur de Lis Stakes, is the one to beat in this year's edition on Sunday at Louisiana Downs. She will face eight other fillies and mares at a mile and 70 yards on the main track.

Trained by Morris Nicks, is coming into the $40,000 Fleur de Lis off another second-place finish here in stakes company, this time to the undefeated Happy Ticket in the Suthern Accent Stakes on May 14. Southern Surprise was the pacesetter that day in a race that saw the winner cover six furlongs in a quick 1:09.40.

Despite the presence of other speed in Sunday's race, Southern Surprise will be difficult to handle, especially considering her local record of two wins and two places from just four starts. Nicks has given the call to leading rider John Jacinto. The barn and rider have combined to win 12 races together this season from fewer than than 30 starts.

With plenty of pace to work with, may be the one with the best chance to upset Southern Surprise. Twilight Gallop's late-running style has produced a couple of close finishes recently on the turf. She is no stranger to the main track, however, winning twice on dirt.

, an impressive winner in her first start of the year at Oaklawn Park against a good group of allowance foes, will again attempt to run a big race off the shelf for trainer Ralph Irwin. Boomboomgirl's form fell off following the victory to start her 6-year-old campaign, but with some time to freshen and a return to the track where she has finished first or second in 5 of 8 starts, she may be ready to run well.

Overmatched in the Grade 3 WinStar Distaff at Lone Star in her last start, Yoursmineours returns to Louisiana Downs for a considerably easier spot. Yoursmineours is 2 for 3 at the distance and certainly commands respect.

Legs O'Neal, winner of the Camelia Stakes earlier this year at Delta Downs, has been training well for trainer Wes Hawley and could be in position to pressure Southern Surprise in the early going.