11/26/2009 12:00AM

Euroears looks for past form


On a wet Thursday night at Hoosier Park last month, there was the old Euroears again, or at least a flicker of him. It had been awhile. Euroears won his first six starts in 2007 and 2008, four of them at Fair Grounds, three of them stakes. Turf and dirt, on the lead and off the pace, the burly chestnut looked unstoppable. Until injury stopped him.

Euroears fractured a leg, had surgery during which screws were inserted to stabilize bone, returned to the races, suffered his first loss, and then went back under the knife for repairs to the original operation. Finally back in action Aug. 1, Euroears finished eighth in his comeback, then was a distant sixth five weeks later. Trainer Bret Calhoun found himself proffering excuses. The soft turf course at Penn National led to Euroears's poor comeback. And, having gotten nothing out of that race, Euroears tired chasing a sizzling pace the next time out on Philly Park dirt.

The Oct. 15 Hoosier allowance was more like it: Euroears popped to the front and led all the way. But Thursday's $60,000 Thanksgiving Handicap at Fair Grounds will help show whether Euroears is grasping at lost glory or might still be same horse seen two seasons ago in New Orleans.

"Obviously, the jury's still out on that," Calhoun said. "As far as watching him in the morning, he appears to be every bit as good."

Euroears has been tearing up the track mornings at Fair Grounds: His Nov. 1 half-mile work in 48.20 seconds was fastest of 83 at the distance; his half-mile in 47 a week later was fastest of 110; and his five-furlong drill in 58.80 on Nov. 15 was a full second faster than any of the other 72 horses working the distance that day. According to Calhoun, Euroears has been doing it all easily.

To win the six-furlong Thanksgiving, Euroears has Sok Sok to beat. Sok Sok is one of the great current horses for courses in the country. He easily won the 2008 Thanksgiving, and his 3-for-3 record at Fair Grounds includes a win over Kodiak Kowboy. Elsewhere, Sok Sok has won only 2 of 11 and has never run nearly as fast.

"Its way more than just the surface," trainer Steve Asmussen said. "He just hasn't done as well when he wasn't there."

Sok Sok is 0 for 5 since winning the Duncan Kenner last March in New Orleans and only posted his first work for his first start since Sept. 13 on Nov. 1.

"I don't know if we're back to how good he was at Fair Grounds previously, but it's impossible not to give him a chance," Asmussen said.