03/26/2009 11:00PM

Ace trainers facing off closing day


NEW ORLEANS - The Fair Grounds closes out its 137th season Sunday with the Red Camelia Stakes and, appropriately enough, it will feature strong entries from two of the meet's standout trainers.

On the day he will walk to the winner's circle to accept the trophy for the Fair Grounds training title, Steve Asmussen will be represented in the Red Camelia by Hisse, who has contributed two of Asmussen's victories this season. Entering the Friday card, Asmussen had sent out 86 winners from 408 starters at Fair Grounds, a win rate of 21 percent.

Hisse will have to face the Morris Nicks-trained Tensas Yucatan, who won her last start in impressive fashion.

Nicks has had an impressive meet in his own right, with 27 winners from 115 starters coming into the final three days of racing, an impressive 23-percent clip, the highest win percentage of any trainer with more than 100 starts.

"If you go beyond what you expect to do, it was a good meet," said Nicks. "So it was a good meet."

Tensas Yucatan brings the highest bankroll to the Red Camelia, a 1 1/16-mile turf stakes for Louisiana-bred fillies and mares. She beat open company in the 2007 DeBartolo Oaks and has earned more than $360,000.

Tensas Yucatan's last race was easily her best in more than a year, as she won by nine lengths going a mile on Jan. 8 in a statebred, no-condition allowance race that was moved off the turf to a track that was rated fast.

That race was impressive, but Nicks feels that Tensas Yucatan might be better still on the turf. Heavy rain is expected leading up to Sunday, which could result in the Red Camelia being run on soft turf.

"I wouldn't be surprised if she weren't a little classier on the turf," said Nicks. "A yielding turf would be new to us, but it might suit her."

If the race is switched to the main track, it won't dissuade fans of Hisse, as she won in the slop two starts back.