02/16/2011 6:35PM

Carroll confident in Inglorious for Rachel Alexandra start

Michael Burns
Inglorious is nominated to next Saturday's seven-furlong Fury, but is currently training in Kentucky at Keeneland.

Talk about a tough read. The 3-year-old filly Inglorious showed nothing but spark in her two starts last year at 2, winning a sprint stakes race in her career debut, and easily capturing a route stakes in her second career start. But both races came over Woodbine’s Polytrack surface, and both were restricted to Ontario-breds, and on Saturday at Fair Grounds, Inglorious starts for the first time in an open race while making her first-ever start on dirt.

But while trainer Josie Carroll acknowledges a class hike for Inglorious in the Grade 3, $150,000 Rachel Alexandra Stakes, she’s confident that Inglorious will produce true form over Fair Grounds dirt track.

“I don’t think surface will be an issue for her,” Carroll said.

A quick look at Inglorious’s work pattern reveals the source of Carroll’s optimism: Namely, Inglorious has been working up a storm. She shows six published Fair Grounds works dating to Jan. 4, and four of them have been bullet drills. Inglorious has worked six furlongs three times, Carroll said, and has looked as impressive in her breezes as those breezes look on paper.

Chantal Sutherland, aboard for the two Woodbine wins, sees fit to fly in and take the mount. And maybe Inglorious will be the filly to challenge Kathmanblu, who figures to be solidly favorite to win the prep for the Fair Grounds Oaks.

Margolis has backup plan

Trainer Steve Margolis entered both Due Date and Cash Refund in the $60,000 Colonel Power Stakes, a turf-sprint on Saturday’s card, but Margolis said Cash Refund was in only in case the Colonel Power wound up being moved from turf to dirt.

“We entered Cash Refund just in case, you know, something crazy happened and it were to be taken off turf,” Margolis said.

There’s no rain in the local forecast this week, but questions have been hanging in the air about the Fair Grounds grass course. New Orleans was dry in December, but more typical wet weather has been present since then. The rain coupled with some unusual cold snaps has led to an extended period of wet turf. Fair Grounds has not conducted grass racing over a firm course in 32 racing days so far in 2011. Turf races have been moved to dirt 16 times. No turf racing was scheduled on one card, and the turf has been labeled “soft” two times, “yielding” six times, and “good” seven times in 2011.

Fair Grounds had been off turf nine times in a row when an attempt was made to conduct grass racing Saturday, but after two races, the course was deemed unsuitable for use. Turf racing returned Monday, when the turf was labeled good.

Eric Halstrom, vice president and general manager for racing, said that Fair Grounds’s track superintendent, Pedro Zavala, started new turf-maintenance procedures as of Monday.

“In between [grass] races he’s going to go out there with the roller,” said Halstrom. “We’ll try not to run turf races consecutively, to give him time to get around there. And, we’re not going to cut the grass for awhile.”