03/11/2011 1:44PM

Fair Grounds feature gets Elusive Jozi back in action


Not all horses can race every three weeks or so. Elusive Jozi has had her races amply spaced, not by design, but out of necessity.

“She’s kind of hot-headed and takes a lot out of herself when she runs,” explained Ralph Nicks, who trains Elusive Jozi for breeder-owner David Garner. “It takes her a while to get back to where I’m satisfied that she’s ready again.”

Elusive Jozi is one of nine fillies and mares entered in the Sunday feature at Fair Grounds, a $53,000, second-level allowance scheduled for 5 1/2 furlongs on turf. Elusive Jozi has been assigned post 1 with Corey Lanerie named to ride.

Elusive Jozi, a Kentucky-bred by Johannesburg, raced seven times last year at 3, ending with an off-the-turf triumph in a first-level allowance at Churchill Downs in November. The filly has gone to the post just once since then, finishing fourth as the favorite in another off-the-turf sprint on Jan. 10 at Fair Grounds.

“If she’d run her race that day and finished up the way she can, I think she might’ve gone on and won,” said Nicks, the longtime Bill Mott assistant who went out on his own in 2004. “She’s not the most consistent sort, but when she’s got her mind on running, she’s alright.”

Nicks said a surface switch to the main track “probably wouldn’t matter. She’s probably just as effective either way.”

Thundering Chance, 3 for 4 lifetime over the Fair Grounds turf course, looks like the one to beat, assuming dry conditions in the New Orleans area prevail. Trained by Karl Broberg, who continues to enjoy a productive meet, Thundering Chance comes off an authoritative victory in a first-level turf sprint just two weeks ago.

Other contenders in a well-matched feature include Speedy Spice and Hello Monday, second and third, respectively, for these same conditions on Feb. 21; Sensational Love, entered under a $40,000 claiming option for owner-trainer Steve Asmussen; and Shutupanddance, who clearly would benefit from the race remaining on the grass. Dajohna is the lone main-track-only entrant.

First post Sunday is 12:40 p.m. Central, with the featured eighth scheduled to go at 4:21. Fair Grounds also will race Monday before going dark for three days, with action resuming March 18.