02/18/2010 1:00AM

Fair Grounds Handicap looks hard to decipher


NEW ORLEANS - In the Fair Grounds Handicap there is a 10-year-old making his first start since September, Silverfoot, and a 7-year-old making his first start since May, Transduction Gold. There is a horse named after a hockey star, Gretsky, and a male horse named like a female horse, Dubious Miss. There is a horse named Get Rich Quick who has lost nine races in a row. His trainer, Malcolm Pierce, deadpanned after a second-place finish last month that the horse should be renamed "Get Rich Slowly."

What there is not in the Grade 3, $100,000 Fair Grounds Handicap is any semblance of clarity.

A field of 10 will lose Giant Oak if the 1 1/8-mile race remains on turf. Acting Zippy was made a tepid morning-line favorite at 4-1, but is hard to love. He led all the way winning the Grade 3 Connally Handicap at Sam Houston last month, but the front end is unlikely to be the right end Saturday at Fair Grounds. The moveable turf rail will be placed on the inside of the course for Saturday's races. When that has happened this meet, speed has fared poorly, and horses stuck anywhere near the boggy inside part of the course have floundered.

A wide-rallying closer could be effective - a horse such as Silverfoot. But can a 10-year-old gelding racing for the first time in more than five months really win a Grade 3 stakes?

"It's hard to gauge, but he's been training really well," said trainer Dallas Stewart. "I hope he's fit enough."

Secret Getaway has appeal, though his most recent start produced a fading fourth-place finish in the Louisiana Handicap. That was a dirt race, as have been all Secret Getaway's starts since the 2008 Secretariat Stakes, but in his turf debut in July of that year, Secret Getaway won a nine-furlong stakes race at Woodbine.

"We're hoping a slower pace on turf and a mile and an eighth will help him," said trainer Mike Stidham. "He's a one-paced stayer."

Long-layoff horse Transduction Gold has won 3 of 6 Fair Grounds grass starts, and won a nine-furlong turf allowance race here exactly one year ago.