12/27/2009 12:00AM

Fair Grounds allowance a springboard to '10


It's difficult not to see Monday's feature at the Fair Grounds as a graduation exercise for 2-year-olds - a last chance to earn a win before turning 3.

Ten 2-year-olds will run in the $45,000 eighth race, all trying to score a second win in the first-level allowance at about a mile over the turf. Mountain Justice and Workin for Hops look to be the prime candidates to cross into the new year off a victory.

Mountain Justice comes into this race off an impressive eight-length victory over the Fair Grounds turf course Nov. 15. Mountain Justice's victory came in his second try. In his first attempt, he faded to finish eighth going seven furlongs over the Polytrack at Keeneland.

In his maiden score, Mountain Justice came from off the pace in a race at Monday's distance of about a mile.

"His first race was unexplainable, but his second race was what we expected," said Mountain Justice's trainer, Andrew McKeever. "Now this is his first race against winners, and we hope he keeps progressing as he steps up."

For Workin for Hops, Monday's race is his second chance to beat winners. Workin for Hops wired the field in his debut, drawing off to win by seven lengths in a $40,000 maiden claiming race at Arlington.

The claiming race made him eligible for a $40,000 starter allowance at Keeneland on Oct. 24. In that race, which came over the Polytrack, Workin for Hops raced evenly while finishing second, two lengths behind the winner.

While the race was encouraging, Workin for Hops will be going longer while trying turf for the first time on Monday. His trainer, Mike Stidham, believes he will handle the changes.

"I think he will handle the turf," Stidham said. "His Polytrack races have been really good. I don't like to switch both distances and surfaces at the same time, but I do think he'll handle both."

Of the remaining eight, Flatter Than Me stands out, having shown flashes of talent in his seven races. He won at Churchill in his debut in April, and in six races since then his best efforts have been a second, beaten a length, in the Grade 3 Bashford Manor at Churchill Downs in June, and a second in an allowance sprint there two starts back on Nov. 1. By the A.P. Indy sire Flatter, Flatter Than Me has run exclusively on dirt.