01/23/2002 1:00AM

Card centers on three turf races


NEW ORLEANS - It's no secret. One of the central attractions of winter racing in a warm climate is a usable turf course. And as is so often the case on a Fair Grounds weekday card, grass racing is the principal allure of Friday's 10-race program.

Races seven, eight, and nine all are carded for grass, the seventh a 3-year-old maiden, the eighth and ninth divisions of a first-level allowance for older fillies.

Trainer Mike Stidham has been strong with maiden turf fillies all meet, and he has the favorite in the seventh. Linda Eder finished a closing fourth Dec. 7 in one of the stronger 3-year-old filly maiden turf races at this meet, and when she ran back a month later was done in by a traffic-filled stretch run. Facing the softest group she has seen this winter, Linda Eder stands a great chance of winning her maiden for owner Jerry Frankel.

The eighth looks like the tougher division of the allowance, though neither heat is a powerhouse. Vauxhall, a debut winner in a Dec. 27 turf route here, starts for trainer Todd Pletcher, whose three wins here all have come on grass. Bet heavily in her debut, Vauxhall raced somewhat erratically in the stretch and probably has to improve to win again.

Not so Restless One, who finished second by a nose at this class level in her last start and probably would have won if not for a wide trip around the far turn. A sister to turf stakes runner Chorwon, Restless One makes her first start for trainer Tom Amoss.

Pick a horse, any horse, in the ninth. There are no automatic throwouts here, but neither are there any standouts. Favoritism could go to the Amoss-trained Manicured.

Fifty Stars breaks splint bone

Louisiana Derby winner Fifty Stars, unraced since a ninth-place finish in last year's Kentucky Derby, suffered another setback Tuesday morning at Fair Grounds when he broke the splint bone in his right front leg during a workout.

Trainer Steve Asmussen said Wednesday that it was too early to tell how serious the injury was. Asmussen had sent off X-rays of Fifty Stars's injured leg and was awaiting further diagnosis, which was expected in the next day.

Fifty Stars finished second in the Lone Star Derby after upsetting the Louisiana Derby in March. Fifty Stars suffered a chipped right front ankle in the Kentucky Derby, an injury that required surgery to repair. He was given a long layoff, but had been in steady training since last fall and had been nearing a return to the races.

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