08/21/2002 11:00PM

Top sprinters rematched for Monique Rene


Midge Too and Prized Amberpro, two of the top female sprinters in the region, will meet for the first time since last year on Saturday in the $50,000 Monique Rene Handicap at Louisiana Downs.

The six-furlong race for fillies and mares drew a field of 10, including stakes winners Taylor's Queen, Nanie's Dinner, Miss Photogenic, and the shipper Darling Deputy.

Midge Too won the Monique Rene last year by two lengths over Prized Amberpro. The win was one of eight in 2001 for Midge Too, who passed the $500,000 mark in earnings in her final start last year, when she won the $25,000 San Felipe Stakes at Sam Houston Race Park.

Following the race, Midge Too underwent surgery to remove a small bone chip from her knee, and in her 2002 debut last month closed for second in a 5 1/2-furlong allowance at Louisiana Downs.

"I was pretty happy with the race," said Jerry Cart, who trains Midge Too and co-owns her with her breeder, Lynette Burns. "I wanted to win, of course, but they went pretty fast and that was not her best distance. I like the distance better this time.

"I look for a big race out of her."

Kirk LeBlanc has a return call on Midge Too.

Prized Amberpro, who has won 5 of 11 starts this year, is looking for her third career stakes win in the Monique Rene. She has developed into a talented sprinter in the last year, with her high point a victory in the $100,000 Valid Expectations Stakes in May over graded winners Hattiesburg and Hallowed Dreams.

The victory earned her a shot at the best of her kind in the $400,000 Princess Rooney at Calder Race Course, where she finished a troubled fourth. For the Monique Rene, trainer John Gelner has given the mount to Don Simington.

Prized Amberpro and Midge Too both have a strong closing kick, which should make for a serious stretch battle in the Monique Rene.

Front Nine back with 3-year-olds

Trainer Tommie Morgan is happy to get Front Nine back to racing with straight 3-year-olds Saturday night in the $30,000 Battle of the Alamo Stakes at Retama Park.

In his last start, Front Nine took on older and finished fourth in the $30,000 Straus at Retama.

"I thought it was a good, even effort for him," Morgan said. "He was with older horses, and his race was respectable."

Since the Straus, which was won by Boots on Sunday, Front Nine has worked a bullet five furlongs in 1:00.60.

He is looking for his third stakes win of the year in the seven-furlong Battle of the Alamo following scores against straight 3-year-olds in the $30,000 Bucharest at Sam Houston in February and the $50,000 Harold V. Goodman Sprint at Lone Star Park in June.

Cathleen Garner has the mount on Front Nine, who has won 5 of 14 career starts and $130,610.

Cowboy Stuff has the speed

Cowboy Stuff, who could prove to be the controlling speed in the $250,000-added Oklahoma Derby at Remington Park on Sunday, drew post 7 for the 1 1/8-mile race.

Nine will start in the Oklahoma Derby, which goes as the seventh race on a nine-race card that begins at 2:30 p.m. Post for the derby is 5:20.

From the rail with riders, the field is: Missme, Calvin Borel; Easyfromthegitgo, Corey Lanerie; Grey Beard, apprentice Rafael Bejarano; Wishingitwas, Buck Harris; The Judge Sez Who, Cornelio Velasquez; Premeditation, Curt Bourque; Cowboy Stuff, Frank Lovato Jr.; A.P. Five Hundred, Robby Albarado; and the lone local hope, Dusty Spike, Kerry Kretzer.

Cowboy Stuff won the $100,000 Round Table wire-to-wire in his last start, running the fastest 1 1/8 miles of Arlington Park meet.

* Louisiana Downs continues to have a strong meet. Heading into the races Thursday, the track was handling an average $2,388,134 a day on its live card, which is up 17 percent from the corresponding dates a year ago. The average daily attendance of 4,349 represents a 5.5 percent increase over 2001. Ontrack, handle on the live card was up 9 percent to $284,276.

* The backstretch at Lone Star will be the site of the annual Fasig-Tipton Texas summer yearling sale Monday and Tuesday.

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