02/22/2003 1:00AM

The week to prefer 'Silver'

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NEW ORLEANS - The precious metal of the week at Fair Grounds is silver. Six days after Badge of Silver won the Risen Star Stakes by

10 lengths, Ifyouprefersilver won Saturday's $150,000 Chou Croute Handicap here by lengths.

Speeding straight to the lead under Frank Lovato, Ifyouprefersilver covered a quarter-mile in 23.74 seconds, a half in 47.92, and three-quarters in 1:13.25 while racing in the clear. She spurted away from favored Salty Farma coming off the far turn and ran alone through the stretch, running 1 1/16 miles in 1:45.67. Ifyouprefersilver paid $13.20 to win, with Salty Farma easily holding second over Took Out.

Owned by the Cobra Farm of Gary Bisantz and trained by Mike Stidham, Ifyouprefersilver has put together an excellent, if abbreviated career. She's now won five times in six starts, including stakes wins in her last two races.

"She fires every time," Stidham said. "She has been doing well. Spacing things out long enough between races has been the key to her."

Indeed, Ifyouprefersilver hadn't raced since winning the $30,000 Winter Soltice on Dec. 21 at Sam Houston. But she'd trained along sharply here for Stidham and had little trouble dispatching of a field that included the graded stakes winner Lakenheath, who checked in fifth.