12/31/2008 12:00AM

Cya Later Bert should get the setup he likes

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NEW ORLEANS - Friday's ninth race at Fair Grounds shapes up as a wide-open betting affair, with Cya Later Bert looking like the legitimate favorite. Nine will go forward in the $46,000 turf sprint, a second-level optional claiming race at 5 1/2 furlongs.

Cya Later Bert enters the race off a strong second-place finish in a race at this distance and level here 19 days ago. In that race, he nearly caught Groovy Luck, finishing second by three-quarters of a length.

Tom Amoss claimed Cya Later Bert for $32,000 on Nov. 11. In his first race for Amoss, Cya Later Bert finished third in his turf debut in a $50,000 claiming race at Churchill. Amoss said he had a troubled trip.

"He was racing next to a horse who broke down and caused him to break his stride," said Amoss. "We thought he ran a nice race, considering the trip he had."

Amoss thinks the move to turf has worked to Cya Later Bert's advantage, and that the horse likes the 5 1/2-furlong configuration at Fair Grounds.

Cya Later Bert usually comes from well off the pace.

"We would like the kind of race that sets up well," Amoss said. "The more speed up front, the better for us."

Amoss may get the speed up front with Polarity and Giant Hit breaking just outside of Cya Later Bert. Both have had success on the front end, and they are likely to be joined by Mountain Stag, who also likes to be near the early lead.

If those horses set a legitimate pace, two other closers, Mr. Rowdy and Wild Slide, should benefit.

Wild Slide was scratched from a race on Dec. 14 due to a cough, but looks ready for this race off a bullet work on Dec. 27.

He came from 7 1/2 lengths back to win his last race, which came Nov. 27 at Fair Grounds. That race was also at 5 1/2 furlongs on the turf. In his two starts on turf, Wild Slide has a win and a second.

"Sprinting on the turf, he may have found his niche there," said trainer Michael Stidham.