06/20/2007 11:00PM

Two horses for course in showdown

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Waupaca and Northern Scene combined have won 11 of 25 starts over the Louisiana Downs turf course, with five of the victories coming in stakes. All that success makes their matchup Saturday in the $50,000 Barksdale Handicap a battle of true course specialists.

Northern Scene will start as the 120-pound highweight in the one-mile turf race, with Waupaca

weighted at 119.

The Barksdale, for 3-year-olds and up, is the final leg of an all-stakes pick four on races 7 through 10.

Waupaca has a 5-for-11 record over the Louisiana Downs turf. He has won three stakes here, among them the Barksdale in 2004.

As trainer Donnie Von Hemel correctly remembered, Waupaca's first victory on turf came at Louisiana Downs when he was 3.

Waupaca, 7, comes into the Barksdale on top of his game. In his last start, he was third by a length in the Grade 3, $200,000 Dallas Turf Cup at Lone Star Park. Prior to the Mayo28 race, he won the allowance prep in his first start of the year on May 12. Waupaca came from off the pace in his win, but went to the lead in the Dallas Turf Cup.

"His first race back, it was an advantage that he settled off the pace that day," said Von Hemel. "And he would have done that again if we weren't going in almost 1:16 for the first three-quarters in the Dallas Turf Cup.

"So, I think maybe he's relaxed a little bit better in his races this year, and it allows him to finish up a little bit better."

Quincy Hamilton has the mount.

Northern Scene is the defending Barksdale champ. He won a prep for this year's race in a five-way photo May 11. The $75,000 optional claimer was Northern Scene's first start in nearly three months, and his trainer, Morris Nicks, liked the fight that he showed.

"It looked like to me that he was a beat horse twice, and he dug back in and wouldn't give it up," said Nicks.

The win improved Northern Scene's record over the local turf course to 6 wins in 14 starts.

"The course is slower here this year, and he handled it okay," Nicks said.

Northern Scene will break from post 6, to the outside of the rail-drawn Waupaca. He is versatile and could get a stalking trip under Donnie Meche.

Dreamsandvisions, a multiple stakes winner, should bid late under Kirk LeBlanc.

"When he does his best he usually, someway or another, manages to be last at some part of the race," said Steven Duke, who trains Dreamsandvisions. "But he runs at the main part of the race, over near the finish line."

Seeking the Gold: Closers clash

Slew City Slew and Western Prize are the most accomplished 3-year-olds in the $50,000 Seeking the Gold, which will be run at a mile on turf. Each has won a stakes, with Slew City Slew's coming on turf.

Western Prize has placed multiple times in stakes on turf. Trained by Steve Asmussen, he made up significant ground when he rallied for fourth in the $100,000 USA Stakes at Lone Star on May 28.

Slew City Slew used closing tactics to win the $50,000 Centennial last year at Remington.

"I'd like to see him off the pace," said Von Hemel, who trains Slew City Slew. "I think he's a better horse off the pace."

Temperence Hill: All about Venomous

Venomous ran one of the best races of his career earlier this month when he won a 5 1/2-furlong allowance race here. For the $50,000 Temperence Hill, he will be moving back to a distance his trainer, Patrick Mouton, believes suits him better.

The Temperence Hill will be run over six furlongs, the same distance over which Venomous picked up the biggest win of his career. It came in the $100,000 Colonel Power at Fair Grounds on Jan. 13.