03/28/2003 1:00AM

Wild Squaw has the edge in turf mile


Handicapping Louisiana-breds going a distance on turf regularly involves guesswork. Saturday's $100,000 Red Camelia Handicap at Fair Grounds, a mile turf race for Louisiana-breds, is no exception.

The best horses in the race - Fuse It and Leslie's Love - are accomplished under sprint conditions, but not going a mile on turf. Many of the others enter the race with questionable form or seem inferior from a class perspective.

With partly cloudy skies forecast in New Orleans leading up to Sunday's race, the Red Camelia should remain on the grass. That would give a slight edge to Wild Squaw, part of a capable entry with Mysia Joe, who won the Red Camelia last year.

Wild Squaw, a distant fifth behind Fuse It in the Magnolia Handicap at Delta Downs on dirt March 1, is comfortable racing long on grass, which can not be said of some of her competitors. Last year she was twice stakes placed in open stakes races on turf at Louisiana Downs. There she finished third to multiple stakes winner Bien Nicole in the River Cities Breeders' Cup, losing by three-quarters of a length.

Her subsequent form has not been as encouraging, but a return to grass and statebred company should result in her returning to form. Leading rider Robby Albarado has the mount for trainer Larry Robideaux.

Fuse It is the hottest and sharpest filly in the race, but she is questionable going a mile and running on grass. The bulk of her experience has come in main-track races at six furlongs and shorter, which understandably raises doubts about her stamina.

She was competitive on turf late last year, but in shorter races that appeared to suit her better. Nevertheless, her overall form has improved since. Mostly recently, she was third to Distinctive Code in the $100,000 Victoria Lass Stakes at Fair Grounds on March 15. Gerard Melancon rides for trainer Samuel Breaux.

Her sharp form is similar to that of Leslie's Love, a dominant short-distance turf sprinter. After winning the Dr. A.B. Leggio Handicap at Fair Grounds in December, she has since won twice going 5 1/2 furlongs on the the local turf course. But she faded to finish a distant second to Autobesarah when she raced a mile in February.

She returns on short rest after a fourth-place finish in a Delta Downs allowance race March 23. Shane Sellers regains the mount.

Because of common ownership, two entries are present in the field. Besides Wild Squaw and Mysia Jo, Autobesarah and Sarah's Goldie will be coupled for wagering purposes.

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