01/11/2011 5:09PM

Fair Grounds feature expected to stay on turf


Considering trainer Neil Howard’s strong start to the Fair Grounds meet – six winners from 18 runners – it’d be mistaken to say ill fortune has hovered over his stable. But weather-wise, Howard’s developing 3-year-olds have not had much recent luck. The promising colt Prime Cut was entered main-track-only in Sunday’s entry-level-allowance opener, and didn’t get to run when the race remained on turf. Not long afterward, the skies opened and grass racing was scrapped during the rest of the card and on Monday, too. For Thursday’s fifth race, another entry-level grass allowance, Howard entered the promising 3-year-old filly Chloe Kate main-track-only, and now the weather has turned clear and dry again, with Chloe Kate likely to be found in her stall Thursday afternoon.

A dry week actually would be a welcome event in New Orleans, but Thursday’s two open allowance races might have benefitted from a rain-off. Besides Chloe Kate, who looked like a potential stakes horse winning her two-turn debut Dec.  20, dry conditions will cost the card Join in the Dance, an interesting 5-year-old entered main-track-only in race 9, a second-level allowance also open to $40,000 claimers.

“We were hoping to get lucky and have it come off, but it doesn’t look like that will happen,” said trainer Steve Margolis, who will target a dirt race next week for Join in the Dance, an entry-level allowance winner Dec. 9.

Harmonizer is part of race 9’s main body, but he, too, might prefer dirt to turf. In a Dec. 27 main-track race at this class level, Harmonizer gave stakes-bound Fast Alex a good fight, eventually losing by three-quarters of a length. Harmonizer finished an even third in a Belmont first-level allowance in his lone prior turf try, and his trainer, Mike Maker, also entered a more established turf performer in Thursday’s ninth, Lonesome Street. Grizzled Robert, entered under the featured race’s claiming option, finished strongly to capture a $30,000 turf claimer Dec.  12 in his Fair Grounds debut.

There are six sophomore fillies in the main body of race 5, with Fun Filled a 7-5 morning-line favorite. Since Fun Filled finished a distant second at odds of 1-2 in a race at this class level and distance Dec. 17, and Fun Filled’s big debut win came in a one-turn Woodbine grass race, it’s possible that this daughter of turf-sprinter Confessional is not suited to route racing. At least her connections, unlike those of Chloe Kate, should learn more Thursday.