12/22/2006 12:00AM

Teuflesberg finally getting act together

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Michael J. Marten/Horsephotos
Teuflesberg, shown at Churchill prepping for the BC Juvenile, has won two of his last three starts.

NEW ORLEANS - Teuflesberg looms a heavy favorite in Sunday's $75,000 Sugar Bowl for 2-year-olds at Fair Grounds as much for what he did as a maiden as for his last three races - two wins sandwiched around a 10th-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.

A speedy son of Johannesburg, Teuflesberg ran in five stakes before ever winning a race. He came within a neck of of pulling off a stunning upset in the Grade 2 Sanford at Saratoga when he led to deep stretch before being caught by Scat Daddy, who went on to win the Grade 1 Champagne and finish second in the Grade 1 Hopeful.

Teuflesberg finally won his maiden in his eighth start. After never getting involved in the Juvenile, he bounced back with a 6 1/2-length entry-level allowance score at Churchill last time out.

"He's been running on a lot of raw talent," said his trainer, Jamie Sanders, "just blasting off."

Teuflesberg has a history of poor starts. In his race prior to the Sanford, he finished fourth in the Grade 3 Bashford Manor at Churchill Downs after a bad break that caused jockey Robby Albarado to lose an iron.

"Several times he's stumbled out of the gate because he breaks so sharp," Sanders said. "He breaks too hard, so hard that sometimes the ground just breaks out from under him."

Sanders believes the colt is learning to relax. "He doesn't have to be on the lead," she said. "We're trying to get him to mentally settle and rate."

The most accomplished of his seven rivals in the six-furlong Sugar Bowl is Jack Grant, winner of the $45,000 Bountiful Harvest at Sam Houston in his last start. A Capote colt, he has three wins to his credit, one more than Teuflesberg.

Tytus, beaten a nose by Jack Grant at Sam Houston, is another contender.

Probation Ready is the other multiple winner in the field and may well be the best choice for an upset. Fair Grounds's leading trainer, Scott Blasi, sent him out for an entry-level allowance score here Dec. 3. His closing style may give him an advantage in a race packed with speed.

Trainer Dallas Stewart won this race in 2004 with Storm Surge and has another promising colt here in Great Discovery. After a poor debut at Saratoga, the Overbrook Farm homebred returned three months later with an impressive maiden score at Churchill.