02/10/2009 12:00AM

Earmuffs help Lady Chace regain best form

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NEW ORLEANS - Maybe it was the earmuffs she has worn in her last two races, maybe it was getting out of the heat, or maybe she likes the Fair Grounds turf. Whatever it is, Lady Chace is looking like her best self again.

If she improves off her most recent race, she will be tough to beat in Thursday's featured ninth race, a third-level optional $62,500 claimer for fillies and mares going 5 1/2 furlongs on the turf.

Lady Chace began her career as a horse of promise, with a $290,000 price tag, and two dominating wins in her first three starts. Then came three disappointing efforts.

By the time she arrived in the Steve Margolis barn in July, she was not at all the horse who had run a 96 Beyer Speed Figure while winning an allowance race at Gulfstream Park.

"We got her in the worst heat of the summer, and she regressed and threw a couple of subpar races," said Margolis. "We freshened her up after that, then brought her to the Fair Grounds in the middle of November."

In addition to the change in venue and cooler weather, Margolis experimented with putting earmuffs on her, to keep her more focused.

"I put the earmuffs on her, and I don't know that it helped, but she responded," said Margolis. "She can be a little quirky, but she has been training well since she got to the Fair Grounds."

She raced like she trained when she won a second-level allowance on Dec. 18. In that race, she rated in second before taking over midway on the turn. It was an early move for the Fair Grounds turf course, but Lady Chace held on, winning by a head.

In her second race here on Jan. 10, she stepped up into the Leggio Memorial and ran well, finishing second to Classify after taking the lead in the stretch.

If she moves forward in her third race off her layoff, Lady Chace looks like the one to beat.

She will face two separate entries from Bret Calhoun's barn. Aronia ran well at this distance on Jan. 16, winning a $50,000 claiming race on turf.

Calhoun's other entry is Blue Angel, who ran third to Aronia in the Jan. 16 race. It will be her second race off a five-month layoff, and she may be ready to fire.

The wild card is Polar Circle, who threw a bad race in her first start of the year, setting the pace and then failing to hold in a 1 1/16-mile turf race at Tampa Bay Downs on Jan. 24. She may thrive at the shorter distance.