10/15/2003 11:00PM

Warleigh must handle extra weight


Warleigh, who was claimed for $100,000 in August, will be a heavy favorite to win his fifth straight race Saturday in the $40,000 Alliance Handicap at Louisiana Downs.

The 1 1/16-mile race is one of three turf stakes in the region. Fly Slama Jama, who set a course record in his last start, heads the $35,000 No Le Hace at Retama Park, while the $35,000 E.L. Gaylord Memorial at Remington drew three top contenders from trainer Donnie Von Hemel.

Warleigh is highweighted at 122 pounds for the Alliance, picking up seven pounds off his last start when he overwhelmed a deep field of turf horses in the $100,000 Louisiana Downs Handicap.

He won that race by 8 1/4 lengths in his first start for trainer Steve Asmussen, who claimed Warleigh for himself this summer at Saratoga.

Warleigh has a lot to offer Saturday. He can race on or off the pace, and has registered three of his last four wins at the Alliance distance. Warleigh also has an attractive turf pedigree, and owns the field's highest last-race Beyer Figure, a 108.

If there is one drawback, however, it is weight. Warleigh must spot his rivals between five and 14 pounds. Lonnie Meche has the mount Saturday.

A chief rival is Dash for Daylight, who won an allowance on the Louisiana Downs Handicap undercard Sept. 21. He settled behind the pace early, and drew off by 5 1/2 lengths and earned a 101 Beyer.

The win was Dash for Daylight's first on turf, the surface his owner, John Franks, had in mind for him when he purchased the gelding this past spring, said Shane Wilson, who trains Dash for Daylight.

Turf winners are plentiful on the female side of Dash for Daylight's pedigree. "He was stakes placed on turf the first time he was ever on it," said Wilson, pointing to Dash for Daylight's close third-place finish in the $75,000 Independence on July 4.

Dash for Daylight will break from the rail under leading rider Kirk LeBlanc.

Others of note in the field include Skate Away, who was an 8 1/4-length winner of the $125,000 DeBartolo Memorial on Sept. 1. Gerard Melancon has the mount for trainer Jeff Trosclair.

Von Hemel strong in Gaylord

Runaway Runaway, a close third against older horses last out in the $35,000 Oklahoma Classics Day Turf, will return to racing with 3-year-olds in the Gaylord. The one-mile race is restricted to horses bred in Oklahoma.

Runaway Runaway is trained by Von Hemel, who will also start Notable Okie, second last out in the $35,000 Oklahoma Classics Sprint, and Spot Dot, a close fourth in the $75,000 Oklahoma Classics Classic, in the Gaylord.

Also in the field is Lithium, a 22-length maiden winner last out for trainer Jason Harrison.

Course record holder at Retama

Fly Slama Jama, who set a course record for a 1 1/16 miles in winning the $100,000 Texas Hall of Fame Stakes, will shorten up a little in distance for the No Le Hace. The 7 1/2-furlong race is the final stakes of the meet, which closes on Sunday.

Fly Slama Jama led throughout in the Texas Hall, covering the distance in 1:40.60. Weldon Cloninger has the mount on the horse for trainer John Locke.

The chief threat appears to be Chauffe Au Rouge.

Dirt stakes at the Woodlands

Morning Merry, winner of the $25,000 Sunflower in his last start, will stretch back out around two turns and return to racing with 3-year-olds in one of two divisions of the KTA Derby at the Woodlands on Saturday.

The mile and 70-yard race is restricted to the offspring of eligible stallions.

Morning Merry finished second in the $75,000 Prairie Meadows Derby the last time he raced around two turns. He is trained by Jim McCoy.