Updated on 03/22/2012 1:28PM

Fair Grounds: Field of 14 makes for wide-open betting affair

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Fair Grounds runs the occasional 14-horse race, but only on the main track and only at six furlongs. Fourteen will run in the richest race on the Friday program at the New Orleans track, a $41,000 first-level allowance for Louisiana-bred 3-year-olds, giving the race plenty of allure to bettors.

Carded as the eighth of 10 races, the feature has a program favorite listed at a juicy 9-2. That tepid choice is Hurricane Bluff, who followed a gate-to-wire score in his career debut with a creditable third in the restricted Pelican Stakes, with both races coming at Delta Downs. Hurricane Bluff has been assigned post 6 in the full gate and will be ridden by Shane Sellers.

Other contenders in a wide-open race include Ad On First, Balidor Desol, and Lindau.
Directly following the main Friday feature is a starter-allowance race with a $30,000 claiming option (race 9) in which Tutti Buona Gente has been pegged as a 3-1 choice for jockey Ramsey Zimmerman and trainer Michelle Lovell. The 6-year-old gelding is 2 for 2 going a mile on the local turf course, and those are the same conditions he will get when trying to extend that record.

The two raes anchor a Friday program that starts at the usual 12:40 p.m. Central.
Next Friday, March 30, will mark the sixth and last in the “Starlight” series (first post, 5  p.m.) for this four-month 2011-12 meet.

Nehro works for New Orleans Handicap start

Nehro, runner-up in the Kentucky Derby last year, tuned up for his first major race as a 4-year-old by breezing six furlongs Monday in 1:13 in company with his 3-year-old stablemate Z Dager. Nehro is slated to run on the April 1  Louisiana Derby undercard in the $400,000 New Orleans Handicap. The colt returned from an injury sustained last June in the Belmont Stakes with a 7 1/4-length victory in a Feb. 25 allowance. Among his expected opposition in the Grade 2 New Orleans Handicap will be Redeemed.

◗ Entries for the entire Louisiana Derby card will be taken and drawn Monday. Nominations closed last weekend for the 99th Louisiana Derby with 79 3-year-olds, although a supplementary fee of $50,000 can be paid at entry time.

◗ Fair Grounds announced Wednesday that the track will host a “Pink Out” day next Saturday, March 31, the eve of the Louisiana Derby, in much the same way that Churchill Downs has utilized its Kentucky Oaks Day since 2009 to raise funds and awareness for breast cancer research. Both tracks are owned by Churchill Downs Inc.
The March 31 card, anchored by the Fair Grounds Oaks, will raise $1 from each admission for the Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the international breast-cancer foundation. Other activities also will be held, including a survivors’ parade, and everyone in attendance will be encouraged to wear pink.

Churchill announced recently that it is renewing its “Pink Out” day for May 4 with “Stand Up to Cancer,” another breast-cancer foundation, as the beneficiary.