01/11/2008 12:00AM

Allowance contains Grade 1 flavor


The ninth race on Sunday at Fair Grounds is listed as a second-level allowance race, but it has the look of a stakes.

"I had no earthly idea this race would come up as strong as it did," said trainer Tom Amoss. "The last two-other-than that was written and this race are night and day in terms of competition."

Amos himself has played a major part in the class upgrade, since he entered Graeme Six in the six-furlong dirt race. Graeme Six finished second to top-class sprinter Dream Rush last July in the Grade 1 Prioress Stakes at Belmont Park.

But while Graeme Six is Grade 1-placed, one of her opponents, Sutra, is a Grade 1 winner, having captured the Frizette Stakes in October 2006, her first start after losing the Arlington-Washington Lassie Stakes by a whisker.

Seven others were entered in race 9, with Limitless looking like the only filly within hailing distance of the big two. Limitless made her first five starts at Louisiana Downs, winning twice, but was a decent second in a race at this class level in November, and a better second in a similar race Dec. 14.

Still, Limitless faced no horses as talented as Graeme Six and Sutra. Graeme Six easily won a maiden race and finished a vastly troubled second in her two starts last season at Fair Grounds. Her second in the Prioress, however, was a high-water mark, since Graeme Six was a well-beaten fifth in the Victory Ride, and second by more than five lengths as the 3-5 favorite in a Presque Isle Downs second-level allowance race on Sept. 16, her most recent start.

Graeme Six shows only one mild half-mile workout for her comeback, though Amoss said he believes his horse is ready to go.

"I feel like Graeme Six is fit enough to win this kind of race," he said.

Sutra, on the other hand, has been clicking off fast breezes like clockwork for the last six weeks. She made but two starts last year at age 3, ending a brief spring campaign with a poor performance in the Beaumont Stakes at Keeneland. But Sutra's work tab offers a window into her present physical condition.

"As long as I've had her, she's never been this happy or healthy," trainer Mike Stidham said. "Whether that translates into her going out there and winning, we'll find out. She had back issues nagging her, which is why we stopped on her, but she's doing as good as I can ask her to do."