02/11/2009 12:00AM

Altesse Imperiale tries again


NEW ORLEANS - The Friday card at Fair Grounds features two first-level allowance races, the fillies and mares division going as the fifth race and the open division going as the ninth race. Both are scheduled for 1 1/16 miles on the turf.

The fifth race shapes a up as rematch, as six of the seven entries ran against each other Jan. 22.

In that race, a mile turf allowance, Altesse Imperiale went off as the favorite but was unable to hold on as she was overtaken in the long Fair Grounds stretch. She'll have to last another sixteenth of a mile in this race, although she did win her maiden going 1 3/16 miles at Deauville in France.

If Altesse Imperiale is unable to hold on, it may be Grassy Nellie closing fast.

Two races ago, she came up a half-length short while getting stuck on a bad part of the turf course. She really didn't show up in the Jan. 22 race, finishing fifth, 3 1/4 lengths back, disappointing her trainer, Louie Roussel III.

"I wanted to blame myself, because maybe the distance was too short," Roussel said. "But I am not going to make excuses for her, she is supposed to show more kick than that."

Grassy Nellie worked three furlongs on dirt in a bullet 36.60 seconds on Feb. 5 in preparation for this race.

"I wanted to wake her up," Roussel said.

In the ninth race, seven horses are scheduled for the turf, with Warn and Moral Fiber each looking strong.

Moral Fiber is likely to be the early speed, while Warn should be closing in the stretch.

Moral Fiber enters off a victory in a $30,000 claiming race Jan. 17. In that race, he wired the field, a rarity over the Fair Grounds turf course.

Warn's 4-year-old campaign in 2008 was a disappointment. He began the year running in stakes, but only managed one victory in a claiming race.

Warn appears headed in the right direction. His last race, on Jan. 3, was a mile race over the Fair Grounds turf, and he closed from 6 1/2 lengths back to be beaten a nose at the finish.

He'll get an extra sixteenth of a mile to work with here and has been training well.

"He's looking like his old self, playing as he comes off the track," said Rowdy Werner, assistant to his father, trainer Ronny Werner. "He's at the top of his game again, and I think he'll break through."