02/22/2008 1:00AM

Cape San Blas capable of repeating

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NEW ORLEANS - An unusually strong Sunday card that includes four allowance or optional claiming races, plus a starter allowance, is topped by a second-level allowance on turf that features some of the better grass horses based this winter at Fair Grounds.

The horse with the most upside in the 7 1/2-furlong ninth race appears to be Cape San Blas, who put it all together last time out, leading for most of a 1 1/16-mile first-level allowance before drawing off to win by 1 1/4 lengths while making his first start in six weeks.

"He has a little bit of a front-running style, and I think the distance will suit him," said Jeffrey Thornbury, who trains Cape San Blas, a 4-year-old who is 2 for 6 lifetime, all on grass. "He relaxes on the front, and I think the 2 hole should work for him getting to the front."

Smart Sherif, who will break from post 3, is also likely to want the lead. He just missed wiring the field in his last race, on Feb. 8. For the third straight time, he was claimed for $25,000, and will be stepping back up to allowance company for the first time since he cleared his first allowance condition last August at Ellis Park.

Master Mizzen should be coming late, having moved to the front slightly too soon in his last, a second-level allowance here on Feb. 5. In that race he made the lead at the top of the stretch, and was overtaken, finishing second by three-quarters of a length. He breaks from post 10.

"He needs to get over, tuck behind some horses, and that post doesn't make it any easier," said trainer David Carroll. "He also needs to wait longer before making his move."

With heavy rains on both Thursday and Friday, racing on the turf is anything but certain. If the race comes off the turf, a very short field is likely, with only Han Solo and Curvature with recent experience and success on the main track.

Although Han Solo won last time out, his victory came against weaker stock at Delta Downs and he looks outclassed on either surface here. Curvature, entered for the main track only, figures to be a live threat should he get into the race.

Curvature last raced on Jan. 31 here, winning a first-level allowance on a sealed course rated fast. In that race, he came from seven lengths off the pace to win by a nose.

He will have slightly less distance to work with in this race, going from a mile and 40 yards to 7 1/2 furlongs.