Updated on 09/16/2011 7:37AM

Fair Grounds: Horse for the course


NEW ORLEANS - His race had come off the turf, his stiffening 7-year-old bones hadn't been in competition in two months, and sheets of rain swept over Fair Grounds when Northcote Road went to the post in the $75,000 Colonel Bradley Handicap.

He was a cinch.

Northcote Road was the only speed in the Bradley, and for the last two days at Fair Grounds an intense inside speed bias has ruled this venue. It also did not hurt that Northcote Road basically owns New Orleans. His win in the Bradley, which started off with 11 entrants but scratched down to six with the surface switch, was Northcote Road's ninth win in 16 starts here.

Most of his local success has come on turf, but Blackie Huffman, who trains Northcote Road for owner Charles Duncker, did not waver in his commitment to keep Northcote Road in the Colonel Bradley regardless of the surface, though Northcote Road clearly is a better horse on grass.

But as the controlling speed in a short field - he ran a half-mile in a leisurely 48.98 seconds - Northcote Road and jockey Larry Melancon dominated the Bradley despite drifting off the golden rail turning for home. Neki, who would wind up last, briefly headed Northcote Road, and Candid Glen came between horses to offer a challenge, but Northcote Road was going away at the finish to score by 1 3/4 lengths.

Northcote Road paid $4 to win and ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:46.03. Candid Glen finished a length clear of Red Mountain for the place.