03/12/2010 12:00AM

Clues hint Formaggio will take to turf

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NEW ORLEANS - Will a horse who has run well on dirt show his talent on grass? No one can know for sure until a dirt horse actually goes out and succeeds on the turf. But trainer David Carroll said he believes Formaggio, a debut dirt winner here on Jan. 25, could carry his form onto the turf in the seventh race on Sunday at Fair Grounds.

"He has grass on the top and bottom of his pedigree," Carroll said. "And he's got a big flat foot on him. A lot of times horses with feet like that seem to get a hold of turf better than they do dirt."

Formaggio was one of eight 3-year-olds entered to run about one mile on turf in an entry-level optional $50,000 claimer. Race 7 shares top billing on Sunday's nine-race program with race 8, a no-conditions sprint allowance for Louisiana-breds in which Mr. Porter should be heavily favored.

Formaggio, a son of Dynaformer and out of the Danzig mare Garden Spot, was entered for turf in his first career start, but Carroll left the colt in that 1 1/16-mile race even when it was rained onto the main track. Formaggio somewhat slowly found his stride after breaking from a wide post under jockey Miguel Mena, but advanced steadily from the three-eighths to the finish to win by a nose over Mister Marti Gras. Mister Marti Gras came back to capture his next race, and could start in the Louisiana Derby.

"He's a big, raw horse that has a lot of developing to do," Carroll said of Formaggio. "He was never really taking Miguel anywhere last time, but when the second-place horse came up on his outside, Miguel said he wanted to run with him."

Formaggio is likely to vie for favoritism with Mountain Justice. Mountain Justice didn't factor in the Risen Star Stakes last time out, finishing ninth, but that race was too tough, and probably on the wrong surface for Mountain Justice, who has a win and a second in two turf tries. Mountain Justice won his maiden by eight lengths over the Fair Grounds course in November, but finished a well-beaten second at odds-on while racing at Sunday's class level on Dec. 29.

Coffee Break also merits consideration, since his ninth-place finish last time out probably isn't representative of his talent. Coffee Break wound up bogged down on the inside of the Fair Grounds course on Jan. 22, a day when outside paths were far superior to inside on turf.