07/01/2004 12:00AM

Unbeatens clash in Shine Young Futurity


CARENCRO, La. - Three unbeaten colts, three impressive trial winners, one tough decision for bettors. That is the situation in Saturday night's $100,000 D. S. "Shine" Young Futurity at Evangeline Downs. The top four finishers from the three qualifying trials, run June 12, will line up in the five-furlong race for Louisiana-bred 2-year-olds.

Malanato, a winner at first asking against maiden special weight company May 22, came back to run the fastest qualifying time of 59.72 seconds for the five furlongs three weeks ago. Trained by Kearney Segura, Malanato will once again be ridden by Marlon St. Julien.

Although he did not run as fast as Malanato in qualifying, Smilin Fine was every bit as visually impressive. Making his career debut for Valene Farms and trainer Troy Young, Smilin Fine raced reserved early under Gerard Melancon before moving to the outside and drawing clear to win by almost four lengths in 1:00.09.

Mr. Excellent won the other trial in gate-to-wire fashion, finishing in 1:00.25. Trained by Doris Hebert, Mr. Excellent earned an 85 Beyer in a maiden win June 3, and although he failed to match that number in winning his trial, he still won by almost three lengths. Steve Bourque, aboard for both previous victories, will again be in the saddle.

Saucey Tiger could take advantage of the expected speed duel between Mr. Excellent and Malanato. Second to Malanato in his trial, Saucey Tiger will be making his fourth career start in the Young, and that experience could come in handy.

Also expecting better results in the final are the connections of Country Pie. The 9-10 favorite in his trial, Country Pie finished third to Smilin Fine. Country Pie will also try to avenge a narrow defeat to Malanato in May, when they met as maidens.