12/20/2008 1:00AM

Affinity for the turf a big question


NEW ORLEANS - Monday's featured turf race is odd in that none of the likely suspects seem to like the surface.

A field of 12 fillies and mares was entered in the 10th, a second-level allowance carded at about a mile on turf for a purse of $46,000.

Four of the entrants come out of an off-the-turf event three weeks ago. Three did well over the main track.

Dragum won that race, coming from eight lengths back to win by 2 1/4 lengths, with Sweetness 'n Light finishing second, 1 1/2 lengths ahead of Sweet Ransom.

Dragum's trainer, Patrick Mouton, considers the career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 89 that she earned in that race more of an indication of her maturity than a preference for the main track.

"I think she's capable of running as well on each surface," Mouton said. "She was a young horse when I claimed her and now she's matured and filled out a lot."

As a 4-year-old, she has shown improvement, finishing in the money in 8 of 14 starts, most of them on the turf.

Sweetness 'n Light is even more of a question mark over the surface. She has raced only once on the turf, in January at the Fair Grounds when finishing fourth in a first-level allowance going a mile.

Trainer Michael Stidham thinks she has promise on the turf but wouldn't mind a switch to the main track.

"She's run well on the Polytrack and that is sometimes a good indication that they will take to turf," Stidham said, "but she has no turf form, and I wouldn't mind if it were moved to the main track."

For Sweet Ransom, who finished third three weeks ago, that race was her first on the main track, and she seemed to race as well over the main track as she has lately over the turf.

One of the few with a clear preference for turf is Flaming Slew, who excelled in her last two races, her first attempts on turf. In her last, she won a first-level allowance going 1 1/8 miles on the turf. She finished second at the same condition two races ago.