05/29/2004 12:00AM

Waupaca looks back in top form


BOSSIER CITY, La. - Waupaca and Crowned King, both stakes winners on the local turf last year as 3-year-olds, square off in Monday's Barksdale Handicap.

They will share highweight honors of 117 pounds in the Barksdale, a 1 1/16-mile race that carries a $50,000 purse.

Waupaca will be making his second start since being sidelined after a rare poor performance in the Fair Grounds Breeders' Cup in January. That defeat was his first on the turf after four consecutive victories on the surface dating back to a conditioned claiming affair here last summer. Also included in that string was a win in the Don Wilhite Memorial on Super Derby Day last September.

Trainer Donnie K. Von Hemel gave Waupaca most of the spring off before spotting him in an allowance over the Lone Star Park grass May 14. Once again displaying sharp early foot, Waupaca held on gamely to prevail by a neck. A half-mile drill since that start indicates he is still sharp.

Corey Lanerie will ride Waupaca Monday.

On the same day as Waupaca's win last September in the Wilhite, Crowned King finished third in the $500,000 Super Derby, which was won by Ten Most Wanted. Equally as effective on the turf, Crowned King accounted for the Bossier City Handicap on the grass as well as the USA Stakes at Lone Star on the turf last year.

In his last start, Crowned King finished a closing second to Grade 3 winner Pie N Burger in a money allowance race on the main track last Sunday.

"It seemed like little more than a workout for him," said trainer Billy McKeever, when asked how Crowned King came out of the race. "I think because he was so fresh, the race seemed to take very little out of him."

Crowned King, who will be ridden by regular rider Chandra Rennie, will try to avenge a loss to Waupaca in their last meeting, the Woodchopper Stakes at Fair Grounds last December.

Completing the field in the Barksdale are Rockchalk Jayhawk, who will carry 114 pounds, including Luis Quinonez; Seainsky, 115, Lonnie Meche; Storybook Kid, 115, Don Simington; and Sea Dub, 113, Guy Smith.