12/17/2002 1:00AM

Walk in the Snow to get a breather till March


NEW ORLEANS - Louisiana Champions Day Classic winner Walk in the Snow came out of his win Saturday "better than ever," trainer Herman Taylor said, but the best older Louisiana-bred in training won't race again until early March.

"I don't know if he needs a break or not, but he's going to get one," Taylor said. "There's nothing for him until then."

By waiting for a statebred stakes more than two months away at Delta, Taylor is taking the path of least resistance with Walk in the Snow, who drew away to a convincing win in the $150,000 Classic, the season's top race for statebreds. Walk in the Snow finished second this past summer in the Grade 2 Super Derby, but Taylor doesn't have designs on open company right now.

"I don't want to try and run him in the New Orleans Handicap or anything like that," said Taylor, whose wife, Ginger, is listed as Walk in the Snow's owner.

Walk in the Snow had cruised to consecutive victories in statebred stakes, but Saturday, after racing farther behind the pace than usual, he had to dig in to pass Prince Slew in midstretch.

"He wasn't as aggressive as he usually is, but once he got into the bit he was running," Taylor said.

Taylor conceded that Walk in the Snow had had a long, active summer, and that he might benefit from a break between starts, but he still doesn't feel like Walk in the Snow is tired.

"He came out of the race just fine," he said. "Just like the same old Walk in the Snow."

Meteor Impact has options

Meanwhile, plans for the exciting Louisiana-bred 2-year-old Meteor Impact are fluid right now, as owner Charlene Thorson and trainer Bobby Barnett mull the colt's future.

Meteor Impact, trained for his first two starts by Glen Delahoussaye, made his first start for Barnett on Saturday in the $100,000 Champions Day Juvenile. After rating in midpack, he rallied through traffic and won in a solid field by six lengths, going away at the finish.

"Charlene sent me the colt and said we were going to Champions Day, but she said he probably would want to go two turns," Barnett said.

If that's true, Meteor Impact's win in the six-furlong Juvenile was all the more impressive and bodes well for his future.

Two-turn races almost certainly are on the horizon, but the other question is whether to keep Meteor Impact in statebred company or try him in an open stakes race. "If there are Louisiana-bred races, that would probably be wisest," Barnett said. "But if not, I don't see why open races wouldn't be an option."

At Fair Grounds, Meteor Impact has both options: the Crescent City Derby, for statebreds at 1 1/16 miles, is on Jan. 18; the Grade 3 Lecomte at one mile is a week later.

Mountain General may hit all the sprint stakes

Mountain General, who set a track record for six furlongs winning the Thanksgiving Handicap here opening day, is set to return Sunday in the $75,000 Gaudin Handicap.

"We plan on running him in all five of the sprint stakes at the meet," said trainer Steve Asmussen, whose father, Keith, owns Mountain General. "We'd feel lucky if we were to win three of the five of them."

But the concern now is that Mountain General will regress after his exceptionally fast race last month. A fast early pace set the table for Mountain General's strong stretch run.

"He's just a little horse," Asmussen said. "The history of his career since he was gelded is of a horse that gives a lot of effort. But he's not thrown two huge races together. He'll run huge once, then just okay the next time."

Even so, Mountain General - who worked a half-mile here Sunday in about 50 seconds - still can win the Gaudin. The horses he will face are of similar quality to those in the Thanksgiving Handicap, with six or seven horses expected to start. The new player worth paying attention to is Cojet, who flopped in the Sugar Bowl here last season but comes off a highly impressive allowance win Nov. 26 at Churchill. Also expected for the race are Crucible, Kazoo, San Pedro, and Wild Summer, with Gracie's Dancer considered possible.

* Saturday's $100,000 Pago Hop for 3-year-old fillies at one mile on grass probably will attract an overflow of entries. Heading the list of expected runners are Bedanken, Caught in the Rain, Lush Soldier, and Attico.

* Beginning Thursday, Fair Grounds will offer $1 superfecta wagering on any race with at least eight starters. Previously, superfectas were available on only two races a day.