Updated on 09/15/2011 1:38PM

Dollar Bill works for first time since surgery


NEW ORLEANS - Triple Crown participant * breezed three furlongs at Fair Grounds last Saturday, the colt's first work since returning to training after surgery to remove a bone chip in his leg. Dollar Bill's breeze was a slow one, about 38 seconds, but was merely designed to serve as a stepping-stone for more intense works.

"This was just the first test to be sure everything's okay," trainer Dallas Stewart said. Now, Stewart said, Dollar Bill will start maintaining a regular work schedule as he prepares for his seasonal debut, which could come Feb. 10 in the Whirlaway Handicap here. Dollar Bill's main goal this spring, provided his training goes well, is the New Orleans Handicap.

Dollar Bill, who has not raced since the Travers Stakes at Saratoga, was one of the top 3-year-olds at Fair Grounds last season and might have won the Louisiana Derby had he not stumbled badly about a quarter-mile from the finish of the race. But that piece of bad luck was a signal of things to come, as Dollar Bill suffered through one bad trip after another and never had a chance to live up to his potential. Dollar Bill's last win came in the Risen Star Stakes here, after which he lost six straight starts.

Stewart also is making plans for the other top horses in his barn. Breeders' Cup Distaff winner * may make her 2002 debut here, and recently resumed regular training after getting a bit of a freshening following her third-place finish in the Falls City Handicap. Unbridled Elaine trained here last winter before making her seasonal debut at Churchill.

Meanwhile, Stewart said that he has altered course with Nasty Storm, who had been penciled in for the Grade 1 La Brea Stakes at Santa Anita, and that the 3-year-old filly would likely race next in a sprint stakes at Fair Grounds this winter. His decision was based on the upgrading of the Humana Distaff at Churchill Downs to a Grade 1 for next year. That race will be Nasty Storm's first major goal of the 2002 season.

Pay and play

Jockeys guilty of riding infractions at Fair Grounds now have the option of paying a fine rather than serving a suspension. The fine is a steep one, $1,000 for every day of a suspension.

The new system is modeled on one adopted in Chicago earlier this year. A steward at Fair Grounds, Peter Kosiba, also serves in the same role at Chicago tracks, where the penalty is $500 a day.

"We're going to make sure this is done right and that it's going to be fair," said Albert Stall, chairman of the Louisiana State Racing Commission.

Eddie Martin, currently the leading rider at Fair Grounds, was suspended five days for an infraction during the meet's opening week, and was the first to choose the optional fine, in his case $5,000. Martin chose the fine at a Louisiana Racing Commission meeting last week, but in the future, as the system becomes more regularly used, a rider's choice between a fine or suspension will be issued through Fair Grounds stewards.

Woodchopper may overfill

No surprise - Saturday's $100,000 Woodchopper Handicap should draw a full field of 14 starters, and it's likely that at least a couple horses entered in the race will be excluded. Like the Pago Hop last weekend, which was for fillies, the Woodchopper is a turf race restricted to 3-year-olds, and coming only a week before Jan. 1, the birthday for all Thoroughbreds, it is an attractive race to horsemen.

Unlike the Pago Hop, where weights were assigned under allowance conditions, the Woodchopper is a handicap, making it less likely the most talented horses nominated to the race will be left out. Sweet Prospect, who would have been among the favorites in the Pago Hop, was one of five fillies excluded from the 14-horse field.

Top weight in the Woodchopper was assigned to Startac, who is not expected to run, leaving the Illinois-bred Fan Club's Mister the expected starting highweight. Fan Club's Mister earned a 120-pound assignment by winning the Grade 2 American Derby. In the Grade 1 Secretariat for 3-year-old turf horses, Fan Club's Mister set the pace and finished sixth, beaten less than five lengths.

Fan Club's Mister got some time off this fall and has been training well at Fair Grounds, where trainer Rickey Harris is wintering for the first time. Harris saw her stable dwindle to a handful of runners as she came back from a severe car accident several years ago, and the presence of Fan Club's Mister has given her operation a boost.

Harris considers Fan Club's Mister an unusually classy horse, but recently his competitive spirit has been outstripping his professionalism. The break between races has left the colt looking for a fight, and in an effort to temper his morning gallops, Harris has been sending Fan Club's Mister to the track just before the morning renovation break at 8 a.m.

"We try to get him to the track when no one's there," Harris said. "If he sees another horse, he wants to pass."

Fan Club's Mister may not be favored Saturday, since trainer Michael Dickinson, whose horses always attract strong support, starts Bowman's Mill, second to the talented Navesink in the Kent Breeders' Cup this summer.

Training race report

Trainer Frank Brothers won three of the six training races Wednesday morning at Fair Grounds. Of the three, Lincoln Center, a colt by Our Emblem, made the strongest impression, showing good speed and kicking away from his field with a strong stretch run and galloping out very well.

Macatawa Bay, second in the same race, was under stout early restraint and also ran well. This colt, who is trained by Tom Amoss, is from the family of champion Kelso.

Also making a favorable impression were Bien Sur, a long-striding filly who showed nice acceleration winning the first heat for trainer Al Stall Jr., and the Mike Stidham-trained Leslie, who was wrangled well off the pace, came between horses, and finished well in the final schooling race.

* Past Performances require Adobe Acrobat Reader.