09/15/2005 12:00AM

Zarba the Great dangerous in Oaks or Victoria Stakes


Saturday's Louisiana Breeders' Festival at Louisiana Downs, a 13-race program of stakes for Louisiana-breds worth a total of more than $1 million, should go a long way toward determining statebred honors in several categories.

The Louisiana Breeders' Oaks and the Louisiana Breeders' Derby should provide a golden opportunity for a couple of 3-year-olds to step to the head of their class. The Oaks and the derby, two of the eight Thoroughbred stakes on the card, will be run at 1 1/16 miles on the main track with a purse of $100,000 each.

In the Oaks, appears poised to put it all together and pick up her first stakes victory. Second in the Lorelei Stakes here against open company on July 9 and again against statebreds in the Frank "Buddy" Abadie Memorial on July 30 at Evangeline Downs, Zarba the Great most recently finished third in her turf debut in the Elge Rasberry Stakes last month.

Those recent near-misses would make Zarba the Great one of the favorites in the Oaks, but she may not run in that race. Trainer John Barger has also entered Zarba the Great against older company in the six-furlong Victoria Stakes later in the program. She is one of three members of the Oaks cast to be cross-entered.

E.J. Perrodin will ride Zarba the Great in either race.

Oaks contender , trained by Al Stall Jr., will be seeking to improve on a fourth-place finish in the Abadie Memorial last month. She defeated Zarba the Great in the Lorelei, her first stakes win. She has been training well and will be ridden by Gerard Melancon.

Without a stakes winner in the field, the Breeders' Derby promises to be a much greater handicapping challenge than the Oaks. Badtotheboneandrew, trained by Harry Hahn, holds a seasoning advantage over his rivals and has come the closest of the eight 3-year-olds to winning a stakes. Second in the A.L. Erwin Stakes in his most recent start, Badtotheboneandrew will be looking for his third win in 18 starts.

Isle of Silver may be the "now" colt in the derby off a return victory against allowance foes at Evangeline on Aug. 11. Isle of Silver finished in front of Badtotheboneandrew in an allowance at Fair Grounds last January before taking an extended vacation. Trainer Troy Young has given the call to Ricky Faul.

Cajun: Zarb's Dahar on a roll

Zarb's Dahar, 8 for 9 at the track, will be favored to win his ninth consecutive Louisiana Downs start in the $75,000 Cajun, a six-furlong race that also drew multiple stakes winner Zarb's Luck.

Zarb's Dahar won last year's Cajun, and looks imposing this year following a win over open company in the $50,000 Folklore in his last start Aug. 27. In all, he is 9 for 21.

"He has been a really nice horse," said trainer James Hodges.

Hodges has given the mount to Gerard Melancon.

Victoria: Repeat try for Destiny Calls

Destiny Calls must overcome a five-month layoff to defend her title in the $75,000 Victoria for fillies and mares going six furlongs, but her task might not be as difficult as it sounds. She returned from a seven-month layoff to win the race last year.

This year, her chief rivals include Where Is My Daddy and Shes Dixies Eskimo.

Where Is My Daddy won the $50,000 Hallowed Dreams at Louisiana Downs on July 17, and in her most recent race was unplaced as the favorite in the LeBlanc Memorial at Evangeline Downs on July 30.

Her trainer, Cole Norman, is drawing a line through the LeBlanc.

"I ran her back too quick, but she has had plenty of time off this time," said Norman.

Shes Dixies Eskimo was second in the LeBlanc and before that was a romping allowance winner at Evangeline.

"We should be right off the lead," said Sam Breaux, who trains Shes Dixies Eskimo. "And if nobody wants the lead, we can go out there. She can get going quick."

Stardust: 'Voodoo' star in the making

Voodoo Gold had a big chance to be the first horse in recent history to sweep Evangeline's triple crown for 2-year-olds after wins in the track's D.S. "Shine" Young Memorial Futurity and the John Franks Memorial Sales Stakes.

But he skipped the final leg, the $100,000 Lafayette for open company Sept. 5, and instead will race against Louisiana-breds in the $75,000 Stardust.

His trainer, Norman, said he felt Voodoo Gold had a good shot to sweep the series, "but coming back in two weeks, I just didn't want to do that with him."

Voodoo Gold has picked up an additional two weeks between starts by waiting for the Stardust, and Norman looks for the gelding to be prominent under Sylvester Carmouche Jr.

Voodoo Gold, a half-brother to stakes winner Legs O'Neal, was a 10-length winner of the Franks Memorial.

Laurel Lane: Sixteen Grand unbeaten

The undefeated Sixteen Grand goes for her third straight win in $75,000 Laurel Lane for 2-year-old fillies. She won her maiden and the $50,000 Southern Belle for Louisiana-bred fillies.

Sixteen Grand won the Southern Belle over some of the 10 rivals she will face in the Laurel Lane.

She is trained by Larry Robideaux and will be ridden by John Jacinto.

Sixteen Grand is a daughter of Festive.

- additional reporting by Mary Rampellini