03/16/2011 2:04PM

Fair Grounds: Hanna looks to end meet on a high note

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It has been a winter of discontent in New Orleans for Clark Hanna, but thankfully for him, it’s nearly over.

Hanna entered Friday action with a 1-for-27 record at the Fair Grounds meet, but the 42-year-old trainer is looking to depart for his home track, Churchill Downs, on a positive note when he sends out Maximus Ruler in the Friday feature.

“He’s doing well, breezing well, and looks fantastic,” Hanna said.

Maximus Ruler, with Jamie Theriot to ride, will break from post 8 in a field of nine older horses in the seventh of nine Friday races, a $51,000, first-level allowance at a mile and 70 yards. A series of 11 workouts precedes a return to action for Maximus Ruler, a 4-year-old colt who has been beset with a variety of setbacks since finishing second in the Lecomte at Fair Grounds in January 2010.

“He had the start of a condylar fracture after the Lecomte, and then after he ran the one bad race at Saratoga, we had to take out a small ankle chip,” Hanna said. “Then I had him ready to run here a couple of weeks ago, and he came down with a high fever. He’s come out of that fine, though, and I’m excited about bringing him back in such good shape. I’ve put so much work into him because I wanted to make sure when I send him over there he’s 110 percent and I’m not running a short horse.”

Maximus Ruler figures as one of the favorites in what shapes up as a well-matched feature. Other contenders include Good and Lucky, in for a $17,500 claiming option; Up and Out of Site, claimed recently in good form by Bret Calhoun; and Necaise, a game last-out winner, albeit versus lesser company.

Friday marks another “Starlight Racing” card, with the first race going at 5 p.m. Central. General admission is free, while clubhouse admission is hiked to $10 for a variety of special features.

◗ The highlight of an 11-race Saturday card is the $60,000 Bienville Stakes, a 5 1/2-furlong turf race that drew 11 fillies and mares, led by Midst and Starlite Starbrite. The following Saturday, March 26, is Louisiana Derby Day, the biggest day of the year at Fair Grounds.