01/15/2013 4:52PM

Fair Grounds: Cool Street going for third straight win


Hot Fair Grounds starts have become old hat for trainer Andrew McKeever. McKeever got on an epic roll early in the 2010-2011 meet, and went well again at the start of 2011-2012. So far this meet, its déjà vu all over again – 6 wins from 15 starters.

Trainer Bernie Flint’s hot Fair Grounds start, however, has come out of the blue. Flint’s 23 runners this meet have produced 7 victories, a total it took his stable the entire 2011-2012 season to reach.

Two of Flint’s wins have come with Cool Street, who cleared the maiden ranks Dec. 20 and repeated in a first-level allowance 10 days later. If Cool Street is to make it three straight, he’ll have the McKeever-trained Street Serenade to handle in the featured eighth race Thursday.

The feature, carded for one mile and 70 yards on dirt, and open to second-level allowance runners or $40,000 claimers, is part of a flood of allowance races on a nine-race card – as opposed to the literal floods that have hit the New Orleans area in recent weeks. Fair Grounds has barely raced on grass since the calendar struck 2013, and with a wet start to this week, it would be no surprise if three entry-level turf allowance races – two routes, one sprint – wind up on the main track. The program also includes a first-level Louisiana-bred allowance.

Street Serenade and Cool Street make up two-sevenths of an evenly matched group. None of the entrants can easily be ruled out, but Street Serenade has a good win at the meet and potential upside to recommend him. Street Serenade won his maiden on Keeneland’s Polytrack last spring, and made 5 of his first 6 starts on turf or Polytrack, but his performance Dec. 14 suggested dirt-routing might be his niche.

Street Serenade contested a moderate pace in that first-level allowance before drawing away to win by two lengths. He has had more than a month to recover from the effort and has worked three times between starts. With front-runners drawn to his outside, Street Serenade’s key to victory might be his willingness to rate behind horses after breaking from the rail under James Graham.

Cool Street rated and rallied in his two wins this meet, but one wonders whether he can maintain his strong recent form making his third start in about three weeks and sixth since he returned from a layoff Oct. 12.

Gospel Lesson and Tycoon, both entered under the claiming option, finished one-two in a Dec. 23 race at this class level and will have plenty of backers.