08/05/2009 12:00AM

Duke putting a rising filly back on turf


BOSSIER CITY, La. - Last weekend was crunch time for many of Louisiana's 2-year-olds. With a pair of stakes at Evangeline Downs and another two at Louisiana Downs, it was time to see which were ready to take their game up a notch.

One filly in particular made a major step forward: The Rumor's True. A daughter of Kafwain trained by Steve Duke, she charged from off the pace to win the $100,000 filly division of John Franks Memorial Sales Stakes at Evangeline last Friday and has the Donnie Wilhite Memorial at Louisiana Downs on Aug. 15 at a mile on the turf as her next objective.

"We are going go back to the grass with her," said Duke earlier this week. "Her dam was best on the turf, and we think that surface and two turns is going to be where her future lies."

Duke went on to say that The Rumor's True's maiden win, which came at 7 1/2 furlongs on turf, was perhaps key to her success in the Franks, at 5 1/2 furlongs on the main track.

"I think it helped that she had just gone seven and half on the grass," Duke said. "She ran big in that maiden race going in. She never gave in. The sprinters got away from us early on Friday night, but she had plenty to come and get them. We were a little surprised at how well she ran, but it was a good surprise."

The Rumor's True became eligible for the stakes by passing through the sales ring in the Franks sale held at Evangeline back in March.

"We got her at the Texas yearling sale at Lone Star last year," Duke said. "We put her in the sale at Evangeline but ended up buying her back. It was a good thing we did."

In addition to the Wilhite, Duke says future plans for his latest stable star could include the $100,000 Happy Ticket on the Super Derby undercard or the El Senorita at Retama Park.

Field sizes increase

Indications are that the usual midsummer slump at the entry box this year may be short-lived. After a couple of lean days last weekend, field sizes at Louisiana Downs have swelled to begin the first full week of August.

"Entries have definitely gotten better, at least for the time being," said the track's racing secretary, Trent McIntosh. "I think it was a combination of factors. We had a couple of good days with the condition book with regard to timing of some horses, and we are starting to see some Lone Star stock with the conclusion of that meeting last week."

Five consecutive days of turf racing being moved to the main track has also led to a pent-up demand for the surface. Significant interest for the grass helped contribute to a total of 91 runners entered for Thursday's nine races and 106 for the same number of races on Friday.