02/24/2007 12:00AM

Corrupt still looks ready to party


NEW ORLEANS - The Mardi Gras Handicap was canceled last Tuesday when a small fire at Fair Grounds caused the track to close after the sixth race. They'll try it again Monday, and Corrupt will once again be the likely favorite in the 7 1/2-furlong test for 3-year-olds on the grass.

Corrupt has won both of his starts, including the Grand Canyon Handicap at Churchill Downs Nov. 25. That race was at 1 1/16 miles on the grass, but the cutback in distance should not be a factor since this is still a two-turn race.

Corrupt showed a lot of poise from the get-go, winning at a distance of ground from the rail in a turf maiden race at Hawthorne last October for trainer Chris Block, whose family owns and bred the colt. The way he angled out for the drive and just took off, opening up more than seven lengths through the stretch, marked Corrupt as something special. Block moved him right into stakes company and Corrupt handled the class jump professionally, getting up by a length despite racing a bit greenly.

Block sent Corrupt to Jeff Trosclair here at Fair Grounds, and Trosclair has liked what he's seen of the Belong to Me colt.

"He's doing very well and I'm excited about his chances on Monday," said Trosclair. "He looks like a horse who is going to mature into something special."

The only thing that might stop Corrupt is the weather. Forecast rain could move the race to the main track, and Trosclair was unsure if Corrupt would run on dirt.

"I'll have to make that decision in consultation with Chris Block," he said.

Mayor Bozarth has also won two turf races, beating another Mardi Gras entrant, Tactical Weapon, by a nose last time out.

Awesome Hero is making his first grass start, but has won a pair of races on the Turfway Park Polytrack. Follow My Moon traded decisions with Awesome Hero and is also trying grass for the first time. Sammy From Miami won his first two races before finishing fifth in the Triple Sec at Delta Downs. Jump'ien has finished just ahead of Royal War Academy in his last two starts.

Royal War Academy is the most experienced horse in the field with seven lifetime starts, but he's still a maiden. Nevertheless, trainer Jamie Sanders likes his chances, and after she scratched Teuflesberg from this spot and sent him to win the Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn instead, her opinion carries a lot of weight.