03/10/2005 1:00AM

Wanderin Boy to spring upset


NEW YORK - Santa Anita has the only Grade 1 race in the nation Saturday, but Fair Grounds has the numbers, as in four stakes worth a total of $1.5 million in what is that track's biggest day of its meeting.

The main event at Fair Grounds is, of course, the $600,000 Louisiana Derby. But also on the card are the $500,000 New Orleans Handicap and the $300,000 Fair Grounds Oaks, which, like the Louisiana Derby, are Grade 2's. The other stakes on the card is the $100,000 Marie G. Krantz Memorial Handicap.

Other races of interest Saturday include the $200,000 Richter Scale Breeders' Cup Sprint Championship at Gulfstream Park, the $200,000 El Camino Real Derby at Bay Meadows, the $175,000 Azeri Breeders' Cup Stakes, and the $100,000 Toboggan Handicap at Aqueduct.

New Orleans Handicap

I respect the favorite, Badge of Silver, as he has the best recent Beyer Speed Figures, and he clearly likes the Fair Grounds main track, where he has 3 wins from 4 starts. But Badge of Silver was the beneficiary of a perfect trip when he won the Hal's Hope last time out, and he just held on, suggesting this 1 1/8-mile distance is really stretching it for him. Moreover, the strength of the Hal's Hope came into question when the sharp third-place finisher Contante came back with a dud in last week's Gulfstream Park Handicap. So at short odds, I'm going to try and beat Badge of Silver with Wanderin Boy.

Wanderin Boy was bred to be a good horse - he's by Seeking the Gold, from a Pleasant Colony mare - and seems ready to fulfill his potential. He improved to 3 wins from 4 starts with a win in the local prep for this race, the Mineshaft Handicap, setting a strong early pace and winning comfortably. Wanderin Boy should be right with, if not in control of, the early pace again, and being so lightly raced, he is eligible to take another big step forward.

Louisiana Derby

After being purchased privately last month, Sort It Out was supposed to get a rest so he could put on some weight. Instead, he was shipped from California for this race, suggesting that his condition may be better than originally thought. In any event, Sort It Out is the play off his solid win in the Whirlaway last time out.

The Whirlaway was Sort It Out's third win in a row, and by far the best race of his career. He turned in sub-24-second second and third quarter-miles, and still came home strongly to beat Naughty New Yorker, Scrappy T, and Galloping Grocer, who are every bit as good as what he faces Saturday. Sort It Out also earned a career-best Beyer of 96, and since he was 19-1 in the Whirlaway, he should be a good price again.

Kansas City Boy, the only other horse in this field with a 96 Beyer, should be used with Sort It Out in exotics.

Kansas City Boy scratched out of last week's Fountain of Youth. High Fly's win in that race flatters Kansas City Boy because Kansas City Boy finished in front of High Fly last time out when second in the Holy Bull.

Richter Scale BC Sprint Championship

Sir Shackleton, winner of the nine-furlong West Virginia Derby last year and a one-mile race in his first outing this year is shortening up to seven furlongs, but he is the pick nevertheless.

Sir Shackleton was very impressive in his 2005 bow, crushing a good field and earning a career-best Beyer of 109. He has had four handy works since, which should help with the turn-back in distance, and it is worth noting that he won his only two attempts at seven furlongs early in his career.


Fair Grounds: Louisiana Derby
3-year-olds, 1 1/16 miles

Approximate post: Eastern-4:18 p.m., Central-3:18 p.m., Mountain-2:18 p.m., Pacific-1:18 p.m.; New Orleans, La., forecast: Sunny, 72 degrees

1Sort It Out9682896-1
2Storm Surge8682916-1
3High Limit8890-5-2
4Real Dandy8784878-1
5Indy Storm72597520-1
6Wallstreet Scandal92886910-1
9Kansas City Boy9681875-1

Track morning line odds

Gulfstream Park: Richter Scale Breeders' Cup Sprint Championship Handicap
3 and up, 7 furlongs

Approximate post: E-5:51 p.m., C-4:51 p.m., M-3:51 p.m., P-2:51 p.m.; Hallandale Beach, Fla., forecast: Partly cloudy, 73 degrees

1Value Plus9979814-1
2Sir Oscar91567620-1
3Lion Tamer111107885-2
4Sir Shackleton109101917-2
5Mister Fotis1071019910-1
6Built Up102837430-1
7Clock Stopper1041041033-1
8Silver Wagon10393999-2

Odds by Art Gropper

Fair Grounds: New Orleans Handicap
4 and up, 1 1/8 miles

Approximate post: E-5:59 p.m., C-4:59 p.m., M-3:59 p.m., P-2:59 p.m.; New Orleans, La., forecast: Sunny, 72 degrees

1Colonial Colony82958915-1
4Badge of Silver1111091082-1
5Musique Toujours107899410-1
6Second of June9410011310-1
7Pollard's Vision99102997-2
8Wanderin Boy102991039-2
9Alumni Hall9696978-1

Track morning line odds