01/18/2003 12:00AM

Witt Ante rallies

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NEW ORLEANS - In the Louisiana Champions Day Juvenile last month, Meteor Impact ran away from Witt Ante as if Witt Ante were tied to a post. Saturday, in the $75,000 Crescent City Derby, Meteor Impact again came into the stretch with a full head of steam, but this time the post started moving. Witt Ante turned back Meteor Impact's rally and drew away in the last furlong for a 2 3/4-length win.

The difference between the two Louisiana-bred races was in their distance. The Champions Day Juvenile was contested at six furlongs, the Crescent City at 1 1/16 miles. Meteor Impact, it appears, is best as a one-run sprinter, while Witt Ante can get a route of ground.

"I thought once we stretched him out he would be okay," said Larry Robideaux, who trains Witt Ante. "I thought there would be a lot of early speed and they would back up."

There was a lot of early speed. Lac Laronge set sail for the lead and ran a quarter-mile in 22.91 seconds and a half-mile in 46.45, a testing pace. Witt Ante raced in fourth, a couple lengths ahead of Meteor Impact, with jockey Kirk LeBlanc waiting patiently.

The closers started to gang up on Lac Laronge at the quarter pole, and there was Meteor Impact making the same sort of move he had on Champions Day. But LeBlanc and Meteor Impact seized the advantage turning into the stretch and pulled away.

Witt Ante, who won his third stakes race, paid $7.20 while running 1 1/16 miles in 1:45.13. Meteor Impact was second by less than a length, with Lac Laronge hanging on gamely for third.