Updated on 09/17/2011 12:51PM

'Bachelor' faces fight up front


NEW ORLEANS - On Thursday, the trainer Josie Carroll was in Florida, heading back to her stable at Fair Grounds. That also is the path her horse has taken, but while Carroll knows what awaits her here, how Bachelor Blues will fare Saturday in the $60,000 Black Gold Handicap is uncertain.

In September, Bachelor Blues won the Grade 2 Summer Stakes at Woodbine over a nice colt named Victory Light, but in two races after that he finished eighth, badly beaten both times. The first loss came on dirt, and Bachelor Blues appears to prefer turf, but he showed little fight in the Oct. 24 Bourbon County Stakes at Keeneland, his last start before a layoff.

But Carroll remains unbowed. "I'm excited about this horse running," said Carroll, who won the Black Gold last season with Prince Alphie. "He's had a couple bad races, but I've always thought he's a good horse."

Nine others were entered in the Black Gold, a turf race at about 7 1/2 furlongs, and in a wide-open affair, Bachelor Blues's back class could go a long way. But Bachelor Blues has done his best racing on the lead, and there probably is too much other speed for him to go to the front and expect to finish on a course that generally eats up pace horses.

Carroll said Bachelor Blues has "grown up physically and has been training relaxed," but she isn't certain about strategy on Saturday. "It depends on how the race shapes up," she said.

The horses that figure to force the pace are Shiloh Bound and Jimmy Cracked Corn - both stretchout sprinters - with Depop and Bc's Music also pace factors. Surely, some of these horses will be taken back off the pace, but still, honest fractions seem ensured. That should set the table for a horse that will rate and rally, with Bogangles and Intrinsic Worth the ones to watch in that regard.

Bogangles won an entry-level turf allowance at Churchill in October and was a close second in an open grass allowance a month later. That is proven grass form, but Bogangles is no standout in this group. And the price on Intrinsic Worth might be more appealing.

Intrinsic Worth didn't run especially well when he was third here Dec. 21, beaten a half-length in a dirt sprint, but the idea behind that race might have been to set him up for the Black Gold. By Red Ransom, Intrinsic Worth is bred to like grass, a surface he has never tried, and should wind up being a route horse when he finds himself.

"He ought to really love the weeds," said trainer Mike Stidham.