02/29/2012 12:48PM

Fair Grounds: Calhoun has two shots to produce a Derby prospect


This is precisely the time of year when the importance of first-level, two-turn allowances for 3-year-olds becomes magnified, most notably at a major track such as Fair Grounds. A proverbial jump off the television screen tends to earn an up-high mention in the “up-and-coming” or “sleeper” category for the Kentucky Derby, just below the confirmed candidates.

So, depending on how dominating he might be, the winner of the seventh race Friday at the New Orleans track could start getting a little Derby ink. However, the most plausible of those colts to advance, Sir Bond, is a probable scratch from the $49,000 race, according to trainer Neil Howard, although there still are a few decent-looking prospects who will stay in to compete in the mile-and-70-yard event.

Chances are, Paul McGee or Bret Calhoun will have the winner, as they account for half of the eight 3-year-olds that figure to remain. McGee will send out the uncoupled duo of Bold Front and Tetradrachm, both of them last-out maiden winners around two Fair Grounds turns, while Calhoun counters with the Gary and Mary West entry of Fire Alarm and Tiz Moe, each of them already experienced among the ranks of winners.

In a similar race Feb. 9, Tiz Moe was beaten just a nose, with Fire Alarm finishing another 2 1/4 lengths back in third, so it would make sense if the collective strength of the Calhoun entry makes them the post-time favorite.

Meanwhile, Sir Bond “has had a little scheduling issue” and probably will scratch in favor of waiting for the March 17 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park, said Howard. Sir Bond, a Street Sense colt owned by Jerry Durant, came under scrutiny when posting a 7 1/4-length victory in a Feb. 16 maiden route at Fair Grounds.

The race for 3-year-olds is the second of three straight allowances on a nine-race Friday card.

In race 6, a $48,000 turf mile for older Louisiana-breds, Old Bushmill and Wildrally look like deserving favorites, assuming the race stays on grass as scheduled; otherwise, Populist Politics would draw in as a huge threat.

In race 8, a $49,000, first-level turf mile for older fillies and mares, Distorsionada and Moon Struck Nemi both will be regarded as top contenders after finishing second at this same level in their respective last races.

First post Friday is the usual 12:40 p.m. Central. Two twilight Fridays remain on the schedule for March 16 and 30.