02/14/2008 12:00AM

Unforgotten primed for breakout

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The older female route division at Fair Grounds could use a star the stature of Happy Ticket, the Louisiana-bred who proved her mettle facing the best fillies and mares in the country. Sadly, the Happy Ticket that runs Saturday at Fair Grounds is a Louisiana-bred stakes race named after the retired mare, a race that directly precedes the featured $60,000 Chou Croute Handicap for older female route horses.

While nothing like a Happy Ticket appears to grace this year's Chou Croute, there is one horse that has a chance to break out in the race. That would be Unforgotten, who looked last month at Fair Grounds like she might've found her racing niche in her 11th career start.

The race was the Truly Bound Handicap, and it marked Unforgotten's first start around two turns. Unforgotten, a Northern Afleet 4-year-old owned by Robert Adams and trained by Dallas Stewart, had shown sharp form winning a second-level sprint allowance race on Dec. 14 at Fair Grounds, and she let fly the same sort of late kick in the two-turn Truly Bound, making a strong run from the back of the field on a sloppy track. Unforgotten could not catch the winner, Spirited Away, but Spirited Away is not in the Chou Croute, and Unforgotten finished more than seven lengths clear of the third-place horse that day.

"She looks like she's all right with the two turns," Stewart said, perhaps understatedly. "She just laid back and made one of those big crushing moves."

Unforgotten is one of 10 horses entered in the Chou Croute. Stewart said he hopes Unforgotten and jockey Julien Leparoux can work out the same sort of trip Saturday that they had in the Truly Bound. The big field means they will need racing luck, but it also increases the possibility of an honest early pace, which Unforgotten probably needs to show her best.

Breaking just to the outside of Unforgotten, who drew post 5, may be her chief rival, Buy the Barrel. Another 4-year-old, Buy the Barrel got her initial shot at two turns last summer at Delaware, and also improved at longer distances. Since stretching out, Buy the Barrel has won 4 of 6 starts, including a recent blowout victory in the $50,000 Houston Distaff.

Very Sexcessful heads Happy Ticket

The Happy Ticket, another $60,000 stakes, goes as race 8, and has as clear-cut favorite in Very Sexcessful. Very Sexcessful made her career debut on Dec. 31 in the $112,000 Louisiana Futurity, and won against 12 foes, going straight to the front, setting a blazing pace, then holding on by a length. Her trainer, Pat Mouton, obviously liked his filly going into that start, or he would have run her in a regular maiden race, and Mouton said Very Sexcessful looks at least as strong now as she did six weeks back.

"She came out of the race real good, and had a super nice work, not this week, but the week before," Mouton said. "She's a pretty nice filly."

If not Very Sexcessful, then the winner is probably Steve Asmussen, who trains three of the other six horses entered in the race. Hisse and Sax Appeal will come from off the pace, while Iknowyouthinkimsexy may try to keep Very Sexcessful occupied on the front end.