12/28/2012 5:54PM

Fair Grounds: Dead On gets class relief in return

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NEW ORLEANS – Fair Grounds will offer horseplayers a hodgepodge of handicapping challenges Sunday in a 11-race card.

The tests include a first-level allowance race for older horses, a route race for 2-year-old maidens, a turf sprint for maiden 2-year-olds fillies, and two stakes races for Alabama-breds.

In the mile and 70-yard allowance race, Dead On, trained by Malcolm Pierce, will be competing for the first time since finishing fifth in the Prince of Wales in July at Fort Erie. Dead On, who ran in stakes in Canada in four of his seven starts, was edged at this level in a two-turn race in March at Fair Grounds.

Scat About, who finished a clear second at this level and distance Dec. 14 for trainer Danny Peitz, is likely to draw attention in the nine-horse field. Trainer Bernie Flint will saddle Cool Street, who is coming off a victory against maidens in a 1 1/16-mile race moved from turf to dirt Dec. 20. Stinking Creek, who won three of his last five races in starter-allowance company at Parx Racing, is stepping up in class for trainer Doug Mathews.

Also on the card, nine 2-year-olds will be running 1 1/16 miles in what looks like a competitive maiden race.

Trainer Dallas Stewart is running Golden Soul, who was edged in a one-turn mile at this level at Churchill Downs in his debut. Proud Strike, who finished a clear second at this level and distance at Churchill, will be making his third start for trainer Steve Asmussen.

A likely pace threat is March Man, one of two colts entered by trainer Bret Calhoun. March Man, who’ll be trying two turns for the first time, has worked solidly at Fair Grounds since fading to finish fifth in his second start in the mile race with Golden Soul.

Trainer Wayne Catalano has an entry – Night Patrol, stretching out and getting blinkers after finishing in midpack in a turf sprint in his debut, and Winning Note, a first-timer with a two-turn pedigree. Another first-timer with distance blood is Seeking an Empire, trained by Steve Margolis.

The other maiden race drew 10 fillies, including six first-timers, who will be running about 5 1/2 furlongs on turf. Crazy Lucky, trained by Margolis, has two in-the-money finishes at six furlongs but is unproven on turf. She finished third on the synthetic surface at Keeneland in her debut and set the pace before finishing second on dirt at Churchill in her last start.

The card opens with seven Alabama-bred 2-year-olds, all maidens, running 5 1/2 furlongs in the Kudzu Juvenile. The mile and 70-yard Magic City Classic drew eight older Alabama-breds.