12/28/2006 1:00AM

Two claims, 2 stakes wins - no surprise to Mouton


NEW ORLEANS - Trainer Patrick Mouton has won a pair of stakes races at the Fair Grounds meet with recently claimed horses. Follow the Lite looked particularly impressive winning the $75,000 Esplanade Stakes on Dec. 22, a nice dividend on the 4-year-old Lite the Fuse filly claimed by Mouton for owner Stanley B. Seelig for $50,000 Oct. 13.

"She's a pretty nice filly," said Mouton. "She had been going real good and she handled that group easily. The guys who had her before - and we did it also the first time we ran her - let her stay too close to the pace, and she doesn't finish as well that way. In the Esplanade we were victimized with the 1 hole on a strip that was deep and heavy that day, so it was my plan to try to get her off the rail and get her outside where the track was real firm. There was a lot of speed, and I really thought she would come from off the pace. If I had guessed wrong we wouldn't have gotten anything."

Mouton is eager to wheel Follow the Lite back while she's in such good form.

"There's another race coming up at 5 1/2 furlongs on the turf on the 13th of January," he said, "so we're looking at that.

"We're going day by day with her. She's doing well, and if she comes up to that race in good shape that's probably what we're going to do."

Cort's P.B., another Mouton claim, won the $75,000 Thanksgiving Handicap in an upset on opening day and may run next on the same card as Follow the Lite.

"There's a race for him on the 13th also, a conditioned allowance race that we're looking at," said Mouton. "We haven't decided yet what we're going to do with him. We're going to work him this weekend and see how he's doing."

Mouton thought these two horses were potential stakes winners when he claimed them.

"Sometimes we are surprised and sometimes we're not," he said. "With these two horses I wasn't surprised at all. We knew [Cort's P.B.] was a good horse and he was working extremely well for us. We got a little lucky that day. There was not a lot of early speed in the race and he was able to get out there and relax a little bit on the lead."

Mystery Giver to give it another go

Mystery Giver came out of his fourth-place finish to Devilment Dec. 16 in the Buddy Diliberto Memorial Handicap in excellent shape, according to trainer Richard Scherer, and is likely to race again during the meet. A winner of more than $1 million on the grass, Mystery Giver won the Fair Grounds Breeders' Cup three years in a row from 2002-04 and also has a victory in the $500,000 Mervin Muniz Cap over the Fair Grounds turf in 2004. He missed 17 months with a severe suspensory injury but is back in form now.

"He's in real good order," said Scherer. "He made up ground in a slow pace. Devilment was the controlling speed, but Mystery Giver came from last and finished fourth, made up some ground off a very soft pace. I'm pleased with the way he ran."

Scherer is searching for the right spot for Mystery Giver.

"Whether or not he's going to continue pursuing stakes, I'm not sure," he said. "He might have lost a step. I might be restricted to allowance conditions or high claimers."