01/27/2012 12:37PM

Fair Grounds: Avie’s Sense hoping for a washout


Without cooperation from Mother Nature – and she does not appear to be feeling helpful this weekend – the most exciting horse entered on an appealing Sunday racing program at Fair Grounds will stay in the barn.

Avie’s Sense, probably the best-looking 3-year-old filly maiden winner of the meeting, was entered main-track-only in Sunday’s seventh race, an entry-level allowance carded for one mile on turf and also open to $50,000 claimers. But after a wet start to the race week, there’s little but sunshine in the weekend forecast, in which case Avie’s Sense and trainer Josie Carroll must wait for another day. The next 3-year-old filly route-allowance race in the condition book is scheduled for Feb. 4, which would leave only three weeks until the Rachel Alexandra Stakes, a race in which Carroll hoped Avie’s Sense could earn a spot after a 5 3/4-length maiden score in her dirt debut Jan. 5.

If Sunday’s seventh does remain on turf, trainer Larry Jones, the man with the leading 3-year-old filly on the grounds, Silverbulletday Stakes winner Believe You Can, appears to have the horse to beat. Firehouse Red won a Dec. 2 turf-route maiden over the Fair Grounds course and came back with a respectable closing third Dec. 21 while facing winners for the first time. Neither of the fillies who finished in front of Firehouse Red are back Sunday, and Firehouse Red has posted a solid-looking five-furlong workout since her last start, suggesting she still is doing well.

The seventh is the first of three consecutive allowance races on the program, with race 8 the highest-class offering, a third-level dirt-sprint allowance race for fillies and mares also open to $62,500 claimers. The field of seven includes Sharp Tongue Lady, who already has won twice at this meet and was scratched from two possible stakes spots last weekend in favor of this allowance race. But while Sharp Tongue Lady has hit peak form over the winter, she has beaten no rival in her two recent wins as good as a couple she meets Sunday, Fast Tip and Moon Buzz.

Fast Tip’s most recent start in the Oct. 16 Remington Park Oaks produced a meek 10th-place finish, but the 4-year-old filly figures to appreciate returning to a sprint. She won a first-level Fair Grounds allowance race over six furlongs by more than three lengths last year and also captured the $60,000 Panthers Stakes, a one-mile race at Prairie Meadows, during the dirt portion of her 2011 campaign.

Moon Buzz scored a particularly sharp debut win last March at Fair Grounds and has won 3 of her 5 starts. Trainer Steve Margolis shipped her to Tampa Bay Downs for the Dec. 31 Minaret Stakes, in which Moon Buzz finished a respectable second while racing over an unfamiliar track surface that might not have entirely suited her.

Race 9, at one mile on turf, is for second-level allowance horses or $40,000 claimers, and Carroll could have the right horse here, even if the race stays on grass. Merkabah finished third, beaten less than a length, in a Nov. 26 grass race at this class level, and the winner of that race, Mr. Vegas, has since captured a third-level allowance and the Colonel Bradley Handicap. The other primary win threat is Forbidden Forest, a talented Illinois-bred who finished second by a nose in a Jan. 7 race at this class level, but who must overcome an outside post Sunday.