09/23/2004 11:00PM

'Yessir' to get a trial run on the turf


BOSSIER CITY, La. - Yessirgeneralsir faced some of the best horses in the country this summer at Saratoga, so he will be taking a drop in class Sunday for the $150,000 Louisiana Downs Breeders' Cup Handicap at Louisiana Downs. But there is a twist.

will be making his first start on turf in the 1 1/16-mile race, which has drawn some the region's best grass horses, including the defending champ, Warleigh, as well as Maysville Slew and Waupaca.

Yessirgeneralsir comes into the Louisiana Downs Handicap with Breeders' Cup aspirations. His trainer, Dallas Keen, said the horse could become a candidate for the Breeders' Cup Mile at Lone Star Park on Oct. 30 after Sunday.

"If he ran really well," said Keen. "We're not going to think about running in it if he doesn't take to the turf."

Keen is hopeful Yessirgeneralsir will like the grass. As a grandson of Lord at War, Yessirgeneralsir has some turf breeding. Keen noted that the horse has a turf foot and had a big work on the grass Sept. 14 at Lone Star. He went five furlongs around the dogs in 1:00.

"He handled it great," said Keen.

Yessirgeneralsir registered his biggest career victory at the 1 1/16-mile distance of the Louisiana Downs Handicap, winning the Grade 3, $300,000 Lone Star Park Handicap on the main track May 31.

Later in the summer, Yessirgeneralsir traveled to Saratoga, where he ran eighth in both the Grade 1 Whitney Handicap, which was won by Roses in May, and the Grade 1 Forego Handicap, won by Midas Eyes.

Yessirgeneralsir set the early pace in the Forego, then lost ground in the stretch. Keen said the horse "overreacted to the way he was asked to switch leads," and as a result lost three or four lengths in the Forego.

Yessirgeneralsir, who will be ridden by leading rider Lonnie Meche on Sunday, ran the opening quarter-mile of that race in 44.80 seconds, and figures to be the controlling speed in the Louisiana Downs Handicap. Those who will contend for the lead include Warleigh, who won this race over a yielding course last year by more than eight lengths, and Waupaca, who is 4 for 5 at Louisiana Downs.

If those three were to duel, and if the rains that were in the area Friday leave the course with some give Sunday, the Louisiana Downs Handicap could set up for a late-runner like Gentlemen JJ. "That's his style," said Andrew Leggio Jr., who trains Gentlemen JJ. "And he kind of likes a soft track."