12/14/2006 1:00AM

Well Said sets sights on New Orleans Cap


NEW ORLEANS - Well Said turned in an exceptional performance last Sunday at Fair Grounds in his first race back since the Gradeo3 Rebel at Oaklawn Park last March. His powerful score at a mile and 40 yards over Red Raymond, who beat him in the Rebel, gave trainer Walter Bindner Jr. plenty to smile about.

"He was training great for the race," said Bindner. "He already established that he was a pretty nice horse last year. You never know when a horse comes back from an injury how well they'll come back and how hard they'll try. All of his works indicated that he was coming back well."

Well Said, a 3-year-old Aptitude colt, had been sidelined after surgery to remove chips in his ankles.

"We actually tried to manage him through the Arkansas Derby, that was our main goal, and that was going to be his last race for a while," said Bindner. "We thought we could make it through, but we couldn't."

After recovering over the summer, Well Said resumed training in September.

"The horse was already pretty fit," he said. "He had gone a lot of miles on one of those walking machines, and all I had to do then was gallop him a few days, then breeze him. He was probably ready to run at Churchill, but I decided to wait until we got down here to run him because this is such a good racetrack."

The wait paid off, and now Bindner can look forward to having a nice handicapper for the 2007 season.

"To win the race is obviously a wonderful surprise - it's hard to do that off of that much layoff," he said. "He came out of the race well. I could run him in the Louisiana Breeders' Cup race here Jan. 13 if I wanted to. I haven't really decided. I'm just waiting for the horse to tell me when he's ready to run, and when he's ready to run we'll look for a race.

"He's nominated for everything. I would like to run in the New Orleans Handicap. I'm going to manage him with that race as our goal right now."

Turf fillies look to 2007

Last Sunday's entry-level allowance at about a mile on the grass course featured several promising performances from fillies who are likely to be winning races in 2007.

Dawn After Dawn, a filly by Successful Appeal, came running down the lane under a patient ride from Robby Albarado to win handily.

"She's a nice filly; she did it easily," said Albarado. "She settled in early and rated well. We got jammed up a little around the turn, but she kept running and finished strongly."

Trainer Wes Hawley liked what he saw, but indicated that he thought there was room for further improvement.

"It was a learning experience for her," he said. "More than likely we'll see her in a stakes race next year. I don't think she's strictly a grass horse, but we'll see what she tells us the next time she runs."

Whisper to Me closed well for the place spot in only her second start for trainer Malcolm Pierce. Out of Thunder Gulch and a Diesis mare, Whisper to Me raced wide into the stretch under James Graham and was moving very smoothly at the end.

Ms. Fast Slew looked like she might wire the field at 70-1 coming out of the far turn under a crafty ride from Gerard Melancon. The mile was beyond the scope of Ms. Fast Slew, who had never gone more than five furlongs in her three starts, but she's definitely worth another look.