08/28/2007 11:00PM

Ahead of Her Time gives turf a try


Trainer Jerry Hardin has long wanted to try the unbeaten Ahead of Her Time on turf. The opportunity comes Friday at Louisiana Downs. Ahead of Her Time will be seeking her sixth straight win when she starts in the $75,000 Elge Rasberry.

To be run at about a mile, the Rasberry is for 3-year-old fillies bred in Louisiana.

Ahead of Her Time is the leader of the division on the strength of stakes wins in her last four starts, her most recent the $100,000 Louisiana Breeders' Oaks at Louisiana Downs on July 21. Since then, she has been preparing for the Rasberry. Last month, she worked five furlongs on a turf course rated good, going the distance around the dogs in 1:02.60.

"I've been dying to run her on the grass," said Hardin, who owns Ahead of Her Time with Dwight Fugate. "In my mind, I believe she'll be better on the grass than she is on the dirt. Really, this filly does everything like a grass horse. She has a big grass foot on her. And we worked her on grass two weeks ago, and it seemed like she really liked it. I hope she takes to it. I really believe that she'll love it. But you never know until you try."

Hardin said Ahead of Her Time also gets pedigree support for the surface. Her sire, Leestown, has had a strong 11 debut turf winners from 71 such starters. And her dam, Street Beat, has produced Butter Head, who is trained by Hardin and has won two times on the turf and is stakes-placed on the grass.

Ahead of Her Time will break from post 5 in the Rasberry under John Jacinto.

"I imagine we'll be laying fairly close," said Hardin.

With a good performance, the Rasberry could serve as Ahead of Her Time's springboard to the $200,000 Marie P. DeBartolo Oaks on turf on the Super Derby undercard Sept. 22.

"We've got that in the back of our minds," said Hardin. "But we're going to see how she handles the grass, and then we're going to make our minds up from there. We'll see how this race winds up."

The chief threat to Ahead of Her Time is Tensas Yucatan, who dueled with Ahead of Her Time through the stretch in the Breeders' Oaks and finished second by a half-length. It was Tensas Yucatan's first start in more than two months, and she has a license to move forward. Donnie Meche has the mount for trainer Morris Nicks.

Hoping for another Nitro Chip

Emmitt Pickett will be shooting for his second win in the $75,000 A.L. "Red" Erwin Stakes at Louisiana Downs on Saturday, when his homebred Ovie starts as a top contender in the one-mile turf race for 3-year-olds bred in Louisiana.

Pickett won the race with Nitro Chip in 2004, when it was run over seven furlongs on the main track. In all, Nitro Chip won 10 of 23 starts and $504,900. Pickett decided to retire the horse in February following his fourth-place finish to Costa Rising in the $200,000 Premier Night Championship at Delta Downs.

"Nitro Chip was a racehorse," said Pickett, who claimed him for $20,000 out of his debut, which came at Louisiana Downs.

Nitro Chip has been turned out in Texas, but this month is set to retire to a Louisiana pasture located on a street named for him. He will reside on an 85-acre farm Pickett recently purchased. Pickett plans to house a handful of broodmares and foals there, along with Nitro Chip, a gelding, who is 6.

"He provided for all of it," said Pickett. "I just used the money he made doing the whole deal. I'm retired. I tell Nitro, he even bought Ovie's momma. So, I got Ovie."

Pickett's farm is located on a road maintained by a parish, or county, in Louisiana.

"The road coming up to my house, the parish fixed it up," said Pickett. "It's their road. It didn't have a name, and they named it Nitro Chip Lane. They put a sign in. It's official."

Ovie, named for Pickett's father, is a two-time allowance winner at the meet. He is trained by Andrew Leggio Jr. Sam Breaux trained Nitro Chip.