06/01/2004 11:00PM

Two-turn try for 'Vanilla'


BOSSIER CITY, La. - Just Plain Vanilla, twice stakes placed, should be a strong favorite in Friday's allowance feature for Louisiana-bred fillies. The 1 1/16-mile first-level allowance drew a field of nine, with most exiting the conditioned claiming ranks.

Trained by Jerry Cart for Edward Blakey, Just Plain Vanilla last raced here May 23, when she finished third in the Fantasia to Shes Dixies Eskimo and Placid Star, who suffered her first defeat after winning her first six starts. Just Plain Vanilla, a daughter of Leestown, finished second in the $100,000 Lassie in December at Fair Grounds before taking the rest of the winter off. Friday will be her first try around two turns, but she appears well equipped from a pedigree and class standpoint. Luis Quinonez will once again be in the saddle.

Two turns is something to which Commanding Lady is well accustomed. Trained by Bret Calhoun, Commanding Lady has raced exclusively at a middle distance since making her debut at Delta Downs in November of last year. She, too, is stakes placed, having finished second to Placid Star in the $125,000 Louisiana Premier Starlet Stakes at Delta Downs in February. In her most recent start, Commanding Lady rallied to finish fourth in a one-mile Lone Star allowance affair with the same conditions as Friday's race. Roman Chapa will ride.

Lanerie off to hot start

Jockey Luis Quinonez set the bar high three weeks ago when he won five races on the opening day card. Although no rider has equaled that feat since, several have come close in this season of hot streaks.

Defending riding champ Gerard Melancon, current leader Lonnie Meche, and newcomer Jeffery Burningham have all enjoyed big days, and this is shaping up to be the strongest riding colony seen here in years.

The latest to have the hot hand is Corey Lanerie. A former Louisiana Downs regular, Lanerie came in from Arlington a week after this meet started. He made up for lost time in a hurry, winning nine times here, including an upset win in Saturday's King's Court Stakes aboard Ole Rebel. Lanerie also won Monday's Barksdale Handicap on favored Waupaca.

* Trey Agilar and Filemon Rodriguez both escaped serious injury in a spill in last Monday's second race. Dream Speaker, with Rodriguez aboard, broke down in the run up the backstretch, and Zarb's Hoedown fell over Dream Speaker, tossing Agilar to the ground. Both riders were shaken up and took off their remaining mounts for the afternoon, but are expected to return this week.