10/02/2007 11:00PM

Top three from Matchmaker go again

EmailBOSSIER CITY, La. - Friday's $36,000 allowance feature for Louisiana-bred fillies and mares has a distinctive stakes air to it as a field of eight, including the first three finishers out of this summer's $100,000 Matchmaker Stakes, will line up for the 7 1/2-furlong turf affair.

Tortuga Flats, victorious in a similar no-conditions allowance spot in early September, will attempt to turn the tables on Raspberry Wine, who defeated her by a neck in the Matchmaker. Tortuga Flats won another allowance race in August following the Matchmaker and is 4 for 7 this year. Kirk LeBlanc will once again be in the saddle for trainer Ralph Irwin.

Raspberry Wine has been idle since the July 21 Matchmaker, but running well off the shelf is nothing new for the 5-year-old mare. Trainer Al Stall Jr. brought Raspberry Wine off layoffs of similar length to win the Red Camelia Stakes at Fair Grounds in March as well as the Seven Stars Stakes here in mid-May. Leading rider John Jacinto, aboard for both of those stakes victories, will ride.

Royal Madame, third in the Matchmaker, has been busy since. The 4-year-old Royal Strand filly, who is trained by James Hudson, finished second behind Tortuga Flats in a Sept. 1 allowance and was second in August to Tensas Star, whom she will face again Friday. Royal Madame most recently finished fourth in an allowance race on the Super Derby undercard two weeks ago. Hodges has given the call to Gerard Melancon.

Mi Isabella merits a long look on Saturday, as she has previously rallied successfully from off the pace over the Louisiana Downs turf course. With established sprint speed present in the form of Classy Ide and the unbeaten Susie Snooks, the stage appears to be set for someone to pick up the pieces. Veteran jockey E.J. Perrodin rides Mi Isabella for trainer Sam David Jr.

Susie Snooks will be making her debut on the grass Saturday after winning all three of her previous starts at Evangeline Downs over the summer. She will be making her first start for new trainer Nick Leggio.

Tensas Star, a winner when moved back to the turf in August, has seen that progress stall with a fourth- and a third-place finish over the surface in her last two starts. Diego Saenz takes over for the recently departed Carlos Gonzalez, who is now riding on the West Coast.